I just found this site after a while of googling, and have had a bit of a read of some of the help, and it seems pretty good.
I'm a British electronics student (I'm near the end of an MEng), and I'm looking into the feasibility of a particular project.
I've been googling a lot and found a lot of info, and just wanted to discuss some ideas and get some thoughts from you all, if that's ok?
The idea is to make an aquatic robotic platform for monitoring wildlife. It's just one idea for a final individual project for next year, so there's time enough to play around with ideas.
A rough outline of specs is that the platform should be able to cope with becoming tangled in weeds or flipped over; and it should have video cameras both above and below the surface.
After that, the idea would be to add a range of sensors and a datalogger and other bits and bobs.
One idea is to make a catamaran, with small turbines built into the chassis - either a couple that could be controlled independently for steering; or one at the back and steering fins.
I thought about just making an RNLI-style self righting boat shape out of styrefoam; and a more standard morphology.
I personally would like to make a homemade AUV, but I'm aware that trying to transmit live video to the surface via sonar could be a big project initself (but I'm not necessarily put off by that).
Still, it might be best to just keep it simple and make a H-frame with a watertight box for battery, microchip, memory, datalogger, comms, and sensor circuitry, with a couple of aerials - one for
Another issue is that I'm not entirely sure how much power consumption I'm looking at for all this stuff.
One idea I've been looking into is mounting a parabolic mirror with fresnel lens on the end of a stirling engine for gentle and renewable propulsion (I doubt I can assemble one good enough to recharge an on-board battery); maybe a small photovoltaic array.http://www.nmri.go.jp/eng/khirata/stirling/boat_design/index_e.html
...and maybe using the piston motion for a biomimetic fish-fin rudder:http://www.nmri.go.jp/eng/khirata/fish/model/modele.htm
I'm not sure whether attaching a heavy battery charger along with battery, and then connecting it up to a Stirling engine as described will work because of all the compensations and accommodations for that weight in terms of the size of the vehicle for stable weight distribution, and the overall weight the engines need to push, even if the chassis is built entirely from plastic foam. ...or whether it'd be feasible to find a cheap-ish battery that could drive the video transmission and the microchip, ram; the sensors, datalogger, and the propulsion.
...so I s'pose the first question might be, does anyone know of a low power programmable chip with in-built wireless comms; and a low power lightweight microcamera that might be feasible?
I need to weigh up the basics of approximate input v output power for the whole system based on some realistic components and a sensible way of powering it (and to a sensible budget, e.g.: £100).; then look at the comms and control aspects of it.
I'm not asking people to do stuff for me, I'm just hoping for a chat and bounce a few ideas around to see if it's a doable project and an interesting one.
Naturally, I'd try and provide as much "how to" info as I can from the whole project - and I don't mind being detailed about it if that's of interest.