About Locarb

What is LOCARB?

LOCARB stands for Low-cost autonomously run boat. LOCARB seeks to be a simple to build, long range, and relatively low cost vessel (under $1,500), and aims to use easily sourced parts that require little to no modification. LOCARB hopes to be a project build which is accessible to even the most inexperienced Arduino and maker hobbyist.

Many autonomous boat projects found on the internet do not seem to disclose their full source code, build of materials, and instructions on how to reproduce the vessel, and I hope to do that here.

I also try to eat a Mediterranean diet and minimize my carbohydrate intake so yea, there’s that too.

How did you decide to build LOCARB?

I was inspired to start this project after getting the idea a few years back looking at RC boats, when I thought to myself…why not make an RC boat to float to hawaii or beyond? I hit the internet and found that I was not the first to have such a wacky and inspiring idea (well to me at least), and I found projects such as Seascout, Seacharger, the Microtransat challenge, and Autonaut.

At that time, I realized that I was far out of my range of expertise as I was basically copy and pasting code and was pretty unfamiliar with programming with the Arduino IDE, so I put the project on hold. In the meantime I worked on various other micro-controller projects, with each building my confidence and skill level to where it is now (still an amateur!).

My first micro-controller project was a simple little IOT Arduino connected garage door opener. Next, was a tele-presence robot using a motor shield and an ESP8266. It used an old cell phone as a camera (running ipwebcam) and motor control was done using a web interface. After that I moved to the raspberry pi and created a web controlled food menu ordering system written in Php and Python which lit up ingredients laid out on a table using pixels.

Further along the way were smaller random projects that solved a problem or filled a need (like a gopher trap which would text me its status, and an internet connected battery charger which I could monitor and operate from afar). These were all practical projects and I felt enjoyment working on them, yet when I began thinking about how micro-controllers could be used for “art,” I got excited. It wasn’t just a “oh thats cool” but “WHOA!! THATS AWESOME!” So I started thinking about my next project and how it wouldn’t just be practical in nature but what could I do? What kind of impractical project could be made complete with the totally practical nature of a micro-controller?

…And that is how LOCARB came to be.