Quiet electric trolling motors are great for gliding into your favorite fishing spot but require constant correction if wind and water currents are at play. As an alternative to expensive commercial GPS-guided trolling motors, [AlexAsplund] created Vanchor, an open source system for adding autopilot to a cheap trolling motor.
To autonomously control an off-the-shelf trolling motor, [Alex] designed a 3D printed steering unit powered by a stepper motor to attach to the original transom mount over the motor’s vertical shaft. A collar screwed to the shaft locks the motor into the steering unit when the motor is lowered. The main controller is a Raspberry Pi, which hosts a WiFi hotspot and web server for control and configuration using a smartphone. Using navigation data from an e-compass sensor and a marine GPS chart plotter, it can hold position, travel in a specified direction, or follow a defined route. [Alex] is also planning to add the option of using a GPS module instead of a commercial plotter.
For an estimated total of $300, including the motor, this seems like a viable alternative to commercial systems. Of course, it might be possible to add even more features by integrating the open source ArduRover autopilot, as we’ve seen [rctestflight] do on multiple autonomous vessels. You can also build your own open source chart plotter using OpenCPN, which rivals commercial offerings.
Utah is a place that features a wonderful and varied wilderness. Its mountainous terrain is home to many valleys, ponds, and streams. They’re a particular favorite of recreational anglers who visit the region for the great fishing. Oftentimes, however, these areas are fished out by visitors and need to be restocked. Other environmental factors also come into play in reducing populations, too.
When this happens in some areas, it’s as simple as driving up a truck full of water and fish and dumping them into the lake. The problem is that many of these lakes and streams are difficult to access by foot or by road. Believe it or not, the most practical method found to deal with the problem thus far is dropping in live fish by air. Here’s how it all goes down.
Typically, the fish dropped into these remote watercourses are quite young, and on the order of 1-3″ long. The fish are specifically raised to later be fished, and are also usually sterile, making it easier for Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources to manage numbers. When it comes time to restock remote lakes, waterbombing planes are pumped full of water and loaded up with fish.
Fishing is generally thought of as a relaxing and laid-back activity, but it still requires a certain amount of physical strength and dexterity. This can be a problem for older anglers or those with physical disabilities. To bring back the simple joy of fishing to those who may no longer be able to hold a rod on their own, [Ozz] has been working on the FISHBOT.
The FISHBOT looks like a miniature crane, complete with an electric motor and winch to pull in the line. But there’s a bit more going on here than meets the eye. Anyone who’s tried to land a large fish knows you have to be cautious of snapping the line, so [Ozz] has added a load cell to the system that can tell when its being pulled too tightly. In the future he hopes to make this feature a bit smarter by taking into account additional variables, but for now it should at least keep the more energetic of your quarry from getting away.
[Ozz] is controlling the beefy 400 watt motor with an IBT-2 H-bridge module connected to an Arduino Mega. The electronics can communicate with the user’s smartphone over a HM-10 Bluetooth module, which allows for more advanced features such as gesture controls that utilize the accelerometer in the phone. Long term, it sounds like he hopes to use the microcontroller in conjunction with the load cell to pull off more advanced tricks like weighing the fish and sending the data off to the user’s fishing buddies to show off.
In the past we’ve seen a drone used to get a lure out where the fish are, but catching one and reeling it back in is a very different challenge. It looks like [Ozz] still has some work to do on this project, but so far it seems things are going well. Being able to return a simple pleasure like this to those who thought their fishing days were behind them will surely prove worthy of the effort.
There’s a laundry list of ways that humans are polluting the earth, and even though it might not look like it from the surface, the oceans seem to bear the brunt of our waste. Some research suggests that plastic doesn’t fully degrade as it ages, but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller bits that will be somewhere the in environment for such a long time it could be characterized in layman’s terms as forever.
Not only does waste of all kinds make its way to the oceans by rivers or simply by outright dumping, but commercial fishing gear is estimated to comprise around 10% of the waste in the great blue seas, and one of the four nonprofits help guide this year’s Hackaday Prize is looking to eliminate some of that waste and ensure it doesn’t cause other problems for marine life. This was the challenge for the Conservation X Labs dream team, three people who were each awarded a $6,000 micro-grant to work full time for two months on the problem.
It isn’t about simply collecting waste in the ocean, but rather about limiting the time that potentially harmful but necessary fishing equipment is in the water in the first place. For this two-month challenge, this team focused on long lines used by professional fishing operations to attach buoys to gear like lobster pots or crab traps. These ropes are a danger to large ocean animals such as whales when they get tangled in them and, if the lines detach from the traps, the traps themselves continue to trap and kill marine life for as long as they are lost underwater. This “ghost gear” is harmful in many different ways, and reducing its time in the water or “soak time” was the goal for the project.
Let’s take a closer look at their work after the break, and we can also see the video report they filed as the project wrapped up.
Blast fishing — the act of using explosives underwater to kill entire schools of fish with shock waves — has been a widespread problem in the Philippines for decades. Although a few fishermen get rich from the first blast at a fresh site, it isn’t good for anyone in the long term, especially the coral and other sea life. Many blast fisherman use homemade explosives, often at the risk of losing fingers and limbs.
The CBobby system works by analyzing the audio spectrum. It looks for transient changes from the ambient background noise levels, and analyzes duration and the frequencies it heard to decide whether there was an explosion or not. Plans to field test this in the Philippines have been dashed by the pandemic, but [ifthekar] has been hard at work testing in Germany with underwater speakers blasting out explosion noises. Already, the system can differentiate the blasts from various environmental sounds like ships, the bellows of large sea creatures, earthquakes, rain, and thunder.
Although the test rig is encased in neon orange acrylic, the actual blast fishing tattler will be disguised as a venomous stonefish, making it as appealing to mess with as fire ants or wasps.
For many of us, this whole pandemic thing has produced some unexpected upsides. One of [George Turvey]’s was finding a nice new scenic route to work that goes by a lake with bike trails. [George] thought it might be nice to go fishing after work, and use a folding bike to cover a lot of ground while looking for good spots on the shore. There was just one problem — riding a bike while transporting tackle is awkward.
Milling won out, at least for the initial proof of concept, and result is a modular mock-up that combines a milled Kydex connector and tackle box holder with a double-barrel PVC rod holder. This way, [George] had a prototype in a fraction of the time it would have taken to design and print it. Cast your line past the break to see how fast [George] can switch gears into fishing mode.
Every fisherman has a secret. A secret spot, a secret technique, or a secret bait. Maybe that’s why tying flies is so popular. [Steve] certainly has is own special lures, although he’s not keeping it a secret. (Video, embedded below.) He designs lures in Simplify3D, 3D prints molds, and then casts them.
The 3D printing part is interesting, but it is also kind of neat to see the lures and the natural prey he uses for inspiration. If you want to catch fish, you have to use bait that looks like real food.