Side Scan Data Logging with ArduPilot

Howdy, I know there are threads like this floating around, but they’re kind of all over the place and I can’t really find a definitive answer to my question. So here’s the deal, I really want to build a USV (unmanned surface vehicle) equipped with some sort of sonar transducer capable of Side-Scan imagery, similar to a commercial fish finder.

So I have a few questions:

1.) Are there any off the shelf transducers that could be used with the PixHawk controller, OR log directly to something like a Raspberry Pi acting as a companion computer, without needing the big display unit thing that fish finder sonars often come bundled with? Note I am only really interested in transducers capable of SideScan imaging, as this is vital for the mission in mind.

2.) Assuming there is some viable transducer capable of SideScan imaging, (would something like the Lowrance Active Imaging 3 in 1 or Lowrance TotalScan work?) how would it be interfaced with either A, the pixhawk directly, or a companion computer for data logging?

This is something I’ve seen around, and I know it accepts NMEA 0183 signals and digitizes them to serial, so I’d imagine it would be possible to connect it to any serial enabled device that has the appropriate software for reading NMEA 0183 sentences and logging them. But even then, is SideScan analog data compatible with such a device?

I’m kind of picking apart a bunch of potential solutions here, but really I don’t have a great starting point. I have a need (produce SideScan images on an ArduBoat and log them) and not much else to go on. So if anyone has successfully done this, please let me know.



This video showcases basically EXACTLY what I want to achieve, sadly I can’t find anymore information on this project, and I can’t really tell from the video how this was achieved, except that he used some sort of Lowrance Fish Finder setup, and most likely just extracted the GPS data and Sonar Log after the mission and viewed it in ReefMaster. This may be the route to go, but it would mean dropping a fair bit of money on a display + transducer setup that would only half be of use to me. I also can’t tell how automated this process is or how he synchronised GPS data with the Sonar, (unless the Lowrance device has it’s own GPS data stored along with the Sonar File).

Old thread, but I’ve been working on this same issue for a few months.

The easiest way for you to record side scan data for processing is to skip the Pixhawk integration and record directly to a small consumer sonar MFD mounted directly on your boat. You start the sonar data recording before you launch, run your mission, then save it to the MFD’s SD card before shutting down.

The data from SD cards is what is imported to reefmaster for processing.

There are several inexpensive marine MFD’s that would fit the bill. Humminbird Helix 5 xsv and the Lowrance Ti2 are both good, small, options with integrated sidescan.

If you need to monitor sonar data in real time during the mission, the Lowrance unit has built in wifi networking that allows you to monitor and control it via a smartphone app. The 3-in-1 transducer would be a good option.

That Actisence module doesn’t do what you think it does. (NMEA messages ARE already serial data.) It connects to any old transducer, and acts as the topside electronics circuitry. It powers the transducer, and converts the raw analog signals to serial NMEA sentences.

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