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I am building a prototype for a remote controlled vessel, the LoRa Marine Environmental Ranger (LoRa MER) that gathers environmental data and relays it to a shore based station using Arduino MKR WAN 1300 LoRa boards.  This post is the eighth in a series, and describes the first successful sea trial and how it almost ended in disaster.


Implementation Status

Last week I described how the boat was disassembled and inspected.  Some dubious hot glue work was done to secure the electronics and a quick test was done in the bathtub.  This week, despite the wet weather I was able to get out with the kids and perform sea tests..  Changes from last week are in red bold



  • RC control inspected and retested
  • MKR WAN 1300 firmware tested
  • Following sensors / hardware more permanently fitted and tested
    • ST3775 TFT Display
    • ICP10100  Atmospheric Pressure / Temperature
    • NEO-6M-0-001 GPS
    • Thermistor Water Temperature
    • Thermistor Air Temperature
    • KX224-I2C 3 axis Accelerometer
    • RPR-0521RSLight Sensor
    • TSW-10 Turbidity Sensor
  • Sea Tests Performed

Shore base:

  • Enclosure completed
  • TFT screen fitted
  • Firmware has LoRa reception (polls) and responds with RSSI
  • MKR WAN 1300 connected to Raspberry Pi by USB serial
  • Python script sends data over internet to
  • Dashboard implemented on
  • Fitted a DIY dipole antenna
  • Tested TTGO LoRa32 with MKRWAN 1300


Sea Trials

For these tests it was just me, the captain, and science officer.  Functionally, everything performed well.  Although we did not have a Raspberry Pi sending the data over the internet, the shore base captured data as it was coming in and displayed it properly.  In the photo below our 3 year old science officer is holding the base station and reporting out pertinent information.

Shore Data Displayed

The radio controlled boat also performed well while the 7 year old captain skillfully navigated it around the duck pond.

Catastrophe avoided.  We moved downstream to a less dangerous area for the boat but it started to rain and we called it a day.


Next Steps

There is a lot I can do to improve the way the instruments are fitted and to improve the mounting of the antennas.  I hope to do that over the coming weeks and get one more test in and do a little more citizen science.


MKR WAN 1300: LoRa Marine Environmental Ranger

Week 1:  Making it Portable

Week 2: Boat in a Box

Week 3: Building a Shore Station and Starting the Boat

Week 3.5: Testing Turbidity and Posting to the Internet

Week 4: Boat Afloat and New Antenna

Week 5: Indoor Testing

Deadline Extended: Join the Challengers: Build a Smarter World: Build an Arduino MKR WAN 1300 Project for an Arduino Engineering Kit!