Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Entropy on Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:14 am

Microyacht wrote:There are many PCB GPS units around that cost about the same or little more than a Flugate module. I'll have a hunt around and see what's readily available in the UK. Later on, I could add an LCD display and take advantage of the actual position as well as tack heading. The boat already has a GPS repeater.

Steve
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GPS repeater?

You mean GPS receiver? If it has NMEA output (it should!), you can just use that to get position/track info.

Some GPS receivers have built in electronic compasses, so you might have everything you need already.
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:45 am

GPS repeater?

You mean GPS receiver? If it has NMEA output (it should!), you can just use that to get position/track info.

Some GPS receivers have built in electronic compasses, so you might have everything you need already.


No, I have a GPS Repeater in the cockpit and a waterproof Marine GPS on top of a mast. It's wired together through stainless steel conduit and not get-at-able easily. The Tiller pilot/autopilot needs to be a stand-alone self contained. Problems is, what's in my mind, is not always what I type on the keyboard! LOL. I meant by "The boat already has a GPS Repeater", I don't need the GPS/Fluxgate in the unit to use for steering the boat/Navigation/knowing where I am because I have the "Ship's main system". I'll take some pictures as soon as it stops raining.

Bye for now

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Entropy on Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:17 am

So is the "GPS Repeater" just an NMEA 0183 distribution box of some sort? Does it have a spare NMEA 0183 output? You could run this to the serial input of an Arduino.

(Why does it need to be standalone/self-contained? Given your budget, it sounds like you would want to use data from any existing sensor on your boat rather than a secondary redundant GPS receiver.)
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:14 pm

I was withholding more information so not to confuse. I want to use the unit on another boat which does not have a GPS. The unit has to be to self-contained and will be powered from a 10 Amps worth of battery pack, charged from a solar panel (I already have both). I would sail by night (sailing manually) and run the unit during daylight when I sleep and when the solar panel can charge the battery. There will also be an Aux 12V I/P for charging or running from the boats main battery.

The GPS repeater is just an additional display in the cockpit that has an LCD display with huge digits. There is no additional MNEA O/P and it is not possible to break into the wiring. The unit will be housed in a waterproof enclosure, roughly 6" X 4" X 4", that clamps onto the outboard motor bracket (When sailing, the outboard motor is stored in a locker) . Sketch:

Image

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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Entropy on Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:58 am

OK, then I suggest looking for a GPS receiver module from Adafruit or Sparkfun.

Sparkfun is quite dead at the moment though - looks like they didn't upgrade their servers enough after the last Free Day to survive the DDoS. :)
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:55 pm

OK, then I suggest looking for a GPS receiver module from Adafruit or Sparkfun.

Sparkfun is quite dead at the moment though - looks like they didn't upgrade their servers enough after the last Free Day to survive the DDoS.


I've just purchased an EM406a GPS Unit from Cool Components in the UK, which is where I live and which is the same as listed by adafruit and Sparkfun.

http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=a12b2cfa9c341de399a7d5d304cf74fd

They have 50 in stock and it should be here in 2-3 days. I'll take it from there once I've got it.

Many thanks for the info and help . . . . . . .

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by jdl2001 on Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:39 am

Microyacht wrote:
OK, then I suggest looking for a GPS receiver module from Adafruit or Sparkfun.

Sparkfun is quite dead at the moment though - looks like they didn't upgrade their servers enough after the last Free Day to survive the DDoS.


I've just purchased an EM406a GPS Unit from Cool Components in the UK, which is where I live and which is the same as listed by adafruit and Sparkfun.

http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/index.php?cPath=21&osCsid=a12b2cfa9c341de399a7d5d304cf74fd

They have 50 in stock and it should be here in 2-3 days. I'll take it from there once I've got it.

Many thanks for the info and help . . . . . . .

Steve
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Hi Steve,
I have no affiliation with Adafruit other than being a happy customer, but, your project would benefit greatly from a GPS Shield. It does several things that will make life easier. It provides a built-in connector for the EM406a so you won't have to do any SMD soldering. It also provides the capability of logging data to an SD card. When you get around to fine-tuning autopilot gains, being able to look at the variation of your track as a function autopilot gain (how quickly you have it respond to off-track errors) will speed the process. I assume your initial testing would be in flat water under power. In any case, it might be a helpful addition to your project and could be used in the future to log voyages in any case.

Good luck and let us know how it goes. I looked your boat up on the internet and it looks like a great little sailboat. Growing up on the Great Lakes, a fellow at our club had a Westerly which also had the twin keels, he was the envy of club when we laid up for the winter not needing a cradle.

Regards,
Jim
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:56 am

Thanks for the info Jim.

The EM406a GPS unit arrived this morning. You could easily loose items this small, let alone the even smaller lead/connector! Talking of connectors, definitely a bit smaller than a Jones plug! I need to clear my radio/construction bench before doing anymore.

Please tell me which GPS shield I need.

Just three main components. Maybe an LCD Display later:

Image

The giant servo has a torque of 25Lb/in at 6V. Should be sufficient but I have BIGGER!

My Leisure 17-SL is a gem. It's a real miniature yacht. OK, it does not have the headroom of something larger but it has a lot of things you get in a bigger boat . . . just that some are smaller.

Many thanks

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by jdl2001 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:43 pm

http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_ ... 9f3df53d2f

I have no idea if Adafruit has a UK distributor for this shield.

I look forward to hearing how it all goes together,
Jim
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:23 am

Adafruit tell me there is no one in the UK that actually stocks their GPS Shield although I may have found someone who stocks other items and may be able to order one for me. How long that will take is anyones guess. On top of about $20 shipping, I have to pay import duty and 20% VAT which is why so many imported things are double the price in the UK.

However, I have found a similar unit from Sparkfun that is in stock here but it does not have the data logging facility. Pity, because I can now see how useful that could be as the whole unit further evolves!

The Sparkfun unit also comes with a connector for the EM406a GPS plus a few other components but without docking headers to the Arduino as picture:

Image

Completed and fitted to Arduino:

Image

A few days and I should know which route to take.

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:30 am

Just for information, the boats main Marine GPS > Evermore SA320:

Image

I forgot to take a picture of the cockpit GPS repeater. I'll post it here tomorrow.

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:48 pm

I have a Sparkfun GPS shield which I assembled this morning. I have the Arduino program on my little Asus Eee PC 900 running Ubuntu. I'd previously run one of the LED "Blinky" test programs, so I know that the notebook is talking to the Arduino . . . . I thought. I downloaded the Sparkfun test program from here:

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/GPSQuickStart/gps_parsing_v13.pde

It uploaded to the Arduino OK and I then switched on the GPS module. The status LED did as it supposed to and after about 40 seconds started blinking denoted that it has satellites! Clicking on the SERIAL MONITOR window . . . . NO DATA! 4 hours later of trying this and trying that, still nothing. Never seen anything displayed in the window. Mmmmm, either something on the board is faulty of just maybe it's a Linux issue?

After dinner a swopped everything over to my Apple iMac. As soon as I ran the Arduino program and clicked on Serial Monitor, loads of data! It works.

Next problem or maybe not. The unit is updating say every second. My position is totally static as the GPS is not moving at all BUT the course is changing all the time and with every refresh it's different. Hugely different. With no movement of the GPS, surely there should be no course? BUT it's varying between 40º and 120º ! Weird. However, I think that it will show a more meaningful figure with real movement. I'll make the whole kit a bit more mobile and take it for a walk.

Image

You can clearly that the unit location is static!

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Entropy on Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:37 am

Microyacht wrote:I have a Sparkfun GPS shield which I assembled this morning. I have the Arduino program on my little Asus Eee PC 900 running Ubuntu. I'd previously run one of the LED "Blinky" test programs, so I know that the notebook is talking to the Arduino . . . . I thought. I downloaded the Sparkfun test program from here:

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/GPSQuickStart/gps_parsing_v13.pde

It uploaded to the Arduino OK and I then switched on the GPS module. The status LED did as it supposed to and after about 40 seconds started blinking denoted that it has satellites! Clicking on the SERIAL MONITOR window . . . . NO DATA! 4 hours later of trying this and trying that, still nothing. Never seen anything displayed in the window. Mmmmm, either something on the board is faulty of just maybe it's a Linux issue?

After dinner a swopped everything over to my Apple iMac. As soon as I ran the Arduino program and clicked on Serial Monitor, loads of data! It works.

Next problem or maybe not. The unit is updating say every second. My position is totally static as the GPS is not moving at all BUT the course is changing all the time and with every refresh it's different. Hugely different. With no movement of the GPS, surely there should be no course? BUT it's varying between 40º and 120º ! Weird. However, I think that it will show a more meaningful figure with real movement. I'll make the whole kit a bit more mobile and take it for a walk.

Image

You can clearly that the unit location is static!

Steve

As we've mentioned, at low speeds things can get funky - you're seeing this exact phenomenon.

Your position is static but there is some noise in the measurement, so the GPS receiver thinks you're kind of bouncing around your immediate vicinity at random.

Usually above 3-5 mph, things settle down. This is why on GPS units with electronic compasses, they transition from electronic compass to the GPS results at around 3-5 mph.

Some GPS receivers (typically ones that are driving-oriented) have a feature called "static navigation" that applies a VERY strong filter to the position data until the speed goes over a certain threshold or the GPS moves more than a certain distance from the last reading. (Intended to keep driving-oriented GPS units from going nuts at traffic lights and stop signs).

In your case, a "static navigation" type of GPS (either with a firmware change to the module, or implementing your own filter on the received data) might be best.
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by Microyacht on Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:06 pm

I now have it setup with my Asus Eee PC 900 Notebook. With the GPS/Arduino module on the standard USB programming cable, it's quite portable. I took it all for a walk down my road, much of which is dead straight. Hey presto! Constant course and constant speed. Well, the decimal points were up and down a bit but basically very steady. I found it difficult walking at 1 mph or less and due to balance (lack of) the Asus/GPS were wobbling and causing greater variations.

Next step > > > decide which pin to use for the servo and "Set" switch and connect them!

So far so good . . . .

Steve
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Re: Simple Arduino Tiller Pilot for tiny Yacht

by franfrank73 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:02 am

hello I am Francis, I was also planning to make a one arduino autopilot, but I could only do a digital compass, you may post the sckect your autopilot to try to make one? thank you very much!
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