Affordable transducer for autonomous boat

Hi there, are you looking for a transducer for your autonomous boat that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars? So was I. This is how I set up the $300 Airmar DST800 triducer. Hopefully you find this helpful :slight_smile:

-mission planner build ArduRover V3.4.2
-airmar dst800 triducer (nmea 0183 version)
-pixhawk px4
-rs-485 to ttl converter (any one with MAX485 chipset will do but this is the one i used)


Mission Planner Parameters:

I used a rs-485 to USB converter to plug into my computer. to view the NMEA messages simply open putty (windows), select the appropriate com port (you can check in device manager on windows) and select 4800 baud rate. You may need to swap around the NMEA A and B cables to get it to work. You can google a NMEA 0183 sentence guide to decode the message.

I hope this helped, best of luck



This is really great. I’ll add it to the wiki in the coming days…

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Very Nice Evan!
Thanks for your input

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That would be great! Unfortunately mission planner can only display sonar range, but this transducer also transmits temperature and wind speed. Would you be interested in developing those functionalities? My company could send you a model to work with if needed.

I think you mean boat speed? I’d certainly be keen to implement this for the sailboat code.

I did mean boat speed. I’m stoked that you’re interested in implementing the functionality. Is there anything I could do to accommodate you?

if you have a spare sensor that would be great. I’m hoping to be able to re-use the wind-speed estimator in the EKF for calculating the ‘water speed’ for tides or flow on a river. I guess the first thing to do would be to add in a ‘tide’ to the boat SITL and see how the EKF manages to estimate. Then look at adding the sensor into the airspeed library probably. Although i’m not sure of the best way to handle sensors like this that have things for different library’s all coming down the one bus. I guess the best way would be to handle it in the rangefinder library and forward the appropriate stuff to airspeed.

@rmackay9 do you have any thoughts about this?

I’ll talk to my boss and see what I can do. It should be possible.

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@iampete Peter, any updates to this?..I am working on adding a wiki page if this is still valid and viable…

no update on my end, sorry

I’d just like to point out that there are different variants of DST800 transducers. And from what I can tell from finally contacting the manufacturer the one @evan is referring to is the DST800PV-S

I haven’t gotten it working yet (because I need to get a new transducer) but I do know now that the DST800-P617V will not work.

I actually don’t necessarily prefer this sensor but I cant seem to find another one from a stateside vendor my company is okay buying from… aaaaand I don’t really know what I’m doing.

May I know why DST800-P617V wouldn’t work please?

The DST800-P617V is an analog sensor and requires additional electronics to interface with the ultrasonic and convert that data to an NMEA string.

STW speed is not taken into consideration by autopilot, is not displayed in MP?