Tiller autopilot for small sailboats

[Dennis] sent in the glider that [Art] built, but I had to feature his dinghy autopilot. It runs on solar power, takes GPS data via serial and maintains the heading using a servo motor to drive the line. It’s an excellent solution for the hardware hacking boater.


  1. As one who enjoys sailing, I have to say that this is one project that rocks. High five.

  2. M K B says:

    Don’t want to be a grinch, but I did this about a year ago and submitted it to the site. Why did it never appear?

  3. strider_mt2k says:

    Nice project!

    Seriously. That is clever and useful.

    Keep up the nautical hacks folks, It’s interesting stuff!

  4. userjjb says:

    I reccomend that everyone check out his autonomous glider, some seriously awesome stuff there

  5. m k b says:

    Search for “navcom” on youtube and you can see mine :) the URL with the source code is in the url thingie above. My system is microcontroller based and has been put on two boats and a plane.

    if you can’t see the url:

  6. Orv says:

    The glider is pretty cool. Wonder if anyone has tried to write a thermaling algorithm? Birds with brains the size of a walnut do it with great success; how hard could it be? ;)

  7. fartface says:

    Why not do a typical autohelm? you can get the sensors to sense rotational drift for dirt most anywhere and that would be more sensitive to the really slow update that GPS has.

    Now autopilot that does Waypoint x,y,Z and will traverse the three enroute to waypoint Z that’s cool.

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