Mapping a lake with ArduPilot

Hi, Randy @rmackay9 is there any wiring diagram? I have a confusion, Should we use BlueRobotics T200 two of CW motor or 1 CW and other 1 CCW?

Thanks, @rmackay9, I got the answer from your youtube replay, Thank you

I did not receive and data from ect400. I 'm using Pixhawk cube and ardurover 4.0. Could I know how to connect ECT400 with pixhawk cube?

@rmackay9 Firstly, thank you very much for providing/developing the NMEA sonar driver. It has been incredibly helpful for my project!

I am using the EchoLogger ECT-D24S for building a scan boat for bigger lakes. Aside from providing the depth reading, the ECT-D24S also has an integrated temperature sensor as well as a two-axis tilt sensor. Especially for deeper lakes, it is necessary to read out the tilt values in order to obtain meaningful depth readings (correct for tilting of the boat, which is quite significant, especially for small vessels).

Would there be a chance that you could extend the driver, such that the values for the temperature, longitudinal tilting (roll), and lateral tilting (pitch) are additionally read out? Ideally, there would also be suitable log messages containing these values.

I have been using ArduPilot for a while now and have studied the “Sensor Drivers” tutorial page. Unfortunately, my programming experience is very limited…
Would anyone else from the community be able to assist?

I will provide all information necessary, such as serial/UART logs, documentation of the sensor, etc.

Hi Randy. Can you suggest a easy way to get depth and gps data from telemetry logs? (for mapping)


You could use the DISTANCE_SENSOR and GPS messages I guess. Dataflash logs are better though if you have a choice.

Hi guys, I am very happy to have found this discussion. Thank you for every contribution and comments. I will do my final thesis soon, and i would like to do a research about mapping a local lake with a transducer and autonomous boat. I am a environmental engineering student, and a beginner in arduino and coding learning.
With the actual monetary crisis, my country’s (Brazil) currency has devaluated, then I need to make a cheap project.
So, I would be very grateful if you guys could answer some questions I have.

  1. Initially i want to focus in the transducer and after in the boat. About the transducer, i understood that if i bought a analog transducer then is necessary a Actisence DST-2 or a equipment to digitize the signal, right? But the DST 2 is more expensive than i can afford.
    If I bought a garmin intelliducer NMEA 0183, can I connect directly to an arduino? Do I need a cable or other eletronics?

  2. Is NMEA 2000 too much complicated and complex?

3, There are some suggestion about cheap nmea 0183 transducers?

  1. This transducer is digital or analog? Nmea 0189 or NMEA 2000?


I can’t all of your questions but I think any NMEA 0183 sonar will work and the setup is probably very similar to the echologger ect400.

I don’t think that NMEA 2000 will work.

I think the garmin transducer you’ve provided a link to isn’t sufficient. I think it’s essentially just the ping and antenna part and that you will still need the equivalent of an analog-to-digital converter.

I’m guessing a bit… I’ve only ever used the ECT400 on a real boat. I think the Blue Robotics Ping sensor is another decent option but its range is only 30m.


I follow this thread for a long time, I am really interested in.

I try to find the best solution to make rivers and lakes mapping. Today I can use “huge” sonar as Garmin or Humminbird do, but, this cost a lot, this is heavy to use. I look for something more convenient to use, more light too.

Pix + EC400 or similar transducer seem to be a solution. That I will try in the coming days.

But, something is not perfect yet : we need a software as Reefmaster. This is not convenient if we want to edit a map directly outside, on the lake or river.

Is there a mean a get and edit the map directly in Mission Planner or all the Android app (Mission maker etc)? I did not find any information on this point.

Then, one of the part of my project is to get a real 3D map of the lake / river. Reefmaster can do this but same question, a mean to get it directly in an Android app?

And the final question, what about RTK modules for pix in order to improve accuracy?

Thank you! :slight_smile:

The linked transducer is an analog transducer I think.

If you are able to get hold of a Garmin Intelliducer NMEA 0183 I am pretty certain it should work (as far as I know they only make NMEA 2000 versions since some time back, but maybe some are still in stock). There’s some good descriptions available for the NMEA 0183 in this forum: Take a look here (schematics and all plus link to in depth material for the intelliducer):

@rmackay9: I still would very much like to get some additional sensor data from that nmea stream sent as serial input. The data is typically already there, in the MTW sentence (mean temperature of water):

Is this at all on the table? Should such a request be posted on Github for Ardupilot?

We have a example lua script that could decode the NMEA stream

On master it would be possible to save the stream directly to the data flash log.

Hello everyone. I am planning to build a RC bodyboard boat with echosounder to make depth map of water bodies. Looking at the build made by rcmackay9 here I found that using submerged thrusters will cause debris to get stuck in the thrusters.

I was also curious if an airboat version can be made using the same sized body-board so as to eliminate chances of debris and aquatic plants getting stuck. If I plan to build an airboat, will it affect my efficiency and performance in any way when compared to submerged motor pod like T-200 thrusters?

I also noticed that with T-200 we get bi-directional motor which makes reversing of boat possible. Is it possible to make reversible airboat?

In short, should I go with submerged motor pods or with airboat?

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Pods are more likely to be efficient from a physics perspective.

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If you want to do real surveys, you will not afford to see your boat stuck on the other side of the lake because entrapped by floating debris or submerged vegetation ingested by the submerged propellers

Consider also that if the power of submerged propellers allow them to “process” any kind of vegetation or debris, it will do the same also with the fingers of a curious kid that approaches the boat (also on the other side of the lake :wink:

Efficiency can be good with a proper design of the propulsion chain, and weight is not a major issue for this kind of drone


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Hi @Shubham_Thakur, yes, the debris issue is the biggest downside of the boogie board design. More recently I’ve started using a deeper more traditional shape of boat.

I think another alternative is to add some kind of stand-off between the frame and the thrusters. I think if the thrusters could be lowered 10 to 15cm it would greatly reduce the amount of debris that gets trapped in the motors.


Thanks for the response @rmackay9 @RobMor @Naterater

We have built a few different boats…boogie board platform, modified from the great design of rmackay9 (Randy’s posts and info were of great help!):

We are in the process of upgrading this platform and are currently prototyping a using a kids kayak as the hull to offer more flotation and rocker in the hull. I did notice that we torpedoed the boogie board a couple times in large waves. We have also made a few airboats:

The airboats are very tricky to get tuned correctly, and they are highly power inefficient. We blast through a 30,000 mAh 12 cell in less than 30 min. The only reason we went with the airboat platform was due to the corrosive nature of the water that we were using it in, an abandoned mine pit…no moving parts underwater. They are very difficult to have the pixhawk control, they work best when going fast (5-10 m/s), and have no reverse. As a result I would not recommend an airboat as a surveying platform as you want to go slower (2 m/s), have the pixhawk accurately follow survey lines, and have a longer endurance in the water.


Hy ! I Have HST-WSU 200 .
How to read arduino the deepth and temp ?
Me bay how to make 2.4 ghz/433mhz wirless signal sender ?

We have used airboats with custom fiberglass hull, they are pretty inefficient. We use EDFs for power, and proper rudder for steering. There is no issue with reverse though and pixhawk is perfectly capable to drive it.

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