Autonomous GPS-guided RC-Boat

I gutted a the radio components from a cheap RC boat I got off Amazon and ordered a GPS shield and compass/accelerometer from Adafruit, thinking this would be a quick and easy project. Now I see why the other autonomous projects use the prebuilt ardupilot module! But it was fun and a great learning experience. As with most projects, I was highly motivated at first and got the software to convert lat/lon pairs into compass angles and so forth, but eventually I hit that stopping point and the project layed dormant for months in my closet. I woke up a few saturdays ago, particularly frustraited with my table full of unfinished projects, and said, "To hell with it, I'm going to finish the boat." The day was filled with a horrible blend of awful code, messy solder, and strands of electrical tape. That afternoon, I went out to a local lake with my wife and put the boat in the water. I didn't even care if it came back, so long as the project had some kind of closure. The damned thing went out exactly where it was supposed to, turned around and came back. I was shocked. That piece of junk actually worked! Now that I was once again excited, I brought it home and altered the code to crank it up to full speed, which led to a whole series of problems. After about four rescue swims over a two week period, the boat finally returned on its own. Its not pretty and the code isn't pretty. In fact, it doesn't even use radians, degrees, or meters. All of the units of measure are completely made up, but they are simple and effective so I didn't bother converting. All the navigational code is home-made so I consider myself lucky the thing ever turned on.

Mounted GoPro footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVGbIEKrOJM

The first complete run (At full speed)

I loved the video JoeFortune. How has your project progressed since then? I think even though it's fraught with potential problems, you look like you're onto a winner! congrats!

Great job, it's working! I'm a teacher and our school is located at a lake. We want to analyze the lake (water, depth). For this I have built a buoy with a radio controled submarine. So far, all seems fine and save, other boats can see the outstanding buoy (it is yellow) and it 'floats' slowly to the desired location. But the range of the signal is too low for the maximum distance of 3 miles. What I need is the autonomous GPS guide and I'm glad that you realized a similar project.

Please help me with my questions. The requirements: The buoy has to reach a waypoint, there it should stop for some ~30 minutes - at the same place, even when wind is blowing. Then it should go to a second waypoint and so on.

  1. Which components do I have to buy? I still havenĀ“t bought anything... Arduino, GPS, compass, accelerometer, ardupilot, what else? It should not be too expensive.
  2. Is it possible, that the arduino is sending the rc-signal? I think this would be the best way, because the electronic parts could be in the dry buoy.
  3. I've a lot of experience in programming, but I'm an 'arduino-newcomer'. If you've some codelines my start would be easier.

Thanks for all