Outboard engine

Is anyone aware of any Arduboat projects utilising outboard engines?

I’m wanting to build a USV and all of the commercial options carry a premium!


Look up John Easton. He runs one in South Africa.


Thanks David

Was a little hasty with this post ended up finding Johns project shortly after! Some great stuff

How do you feel his setup would scale to say a 40hp outboard?


I don’t know. That’s a big engine or boat. At some point an unmanned boat becomes dangerous with size.

I think ArduPilot should work with nearly any size of vehicle… of course, as DavidB says, safety is important.

We haven’t yet found a limit on any type of vehicle size (22’ fixed wing, 5.5m trad heli, passenger vehicles, 40’ boats). The IMUs and EKF are getting better and better, which I think is allowing this.

We have integrated successfully with quite a few outboards, to include the new Suzuki 300HPs. They have the steering actuation built-in, which is super nice! No more hydraulics and feedback sensing! We control over PWM out of Ardupilot translated to multiple NMEA 2000 messages for all the controls.

But, another trick is to use one of the marine autopilots (Garmin GHP20) and just send the next WP heading info over from the AP, much like a chart plotter does. Those systems tune really nicely on the larger boats, and if you figure out the NMEA stuff you get a lot of additional features (trolling modes, clever fishing maneuvers, etc).

We have thought about integrating a ThunderCat Inflatable with a 40HP Tohatsu (with de-watering) and a Max Jac linear actuator with some additional sealing for steering. They handle exceptionally well in high surf conditions, and we were going to include a water bladder for adjustable ballast. Curious what your application might be.

Heed the safety comments - these things have a mind of their own if you screw up a message or bypass an engine interlock. We spend 59 minutes thinking about safety concerns for the 1 minute task.

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