I’ve now glued the balsa hull down onto a flat sheet of plywood. I plan on making the hull in a slightly different way to how racing sparrow hulls are completed. Firstly I’ve given the hull increased girth (I have now idea of the correct terminolgoy) . I also decided to make a plug mold to allow me to create new hulls a lot easier. I’m also planning on making a smaller Auton hull based on either the racing sparrow RS750 or the RS1000. The aim is to use these as testing boats.

You may have also noticed the lip I’ve created I  the attached photo, this is to ensure there’s a L lip all around the top of the hull. Reason for this is two-fold, firstly it gives me more surface area to attach the hulls deck and secondly it could allow me to use encapsulent to cover the deck and solar cells.

Just waiting for this to dry and I’ll continue to fill and sand.



It’s been around 1 and a 1/2 years since my last post. Crikey, time flies. It was never my intention to stop researching and building Auton but life gets busy sometimes!

I got married nearly 2 years ago and we moved into our new home, since then we’ve been working on the house. I now finally have some spare time to work on the project. 


The balsa frame has only just made it to our new house (it was stored at my mother’s house). The transit isn’t what I would of called plain sailing (sorry for the pun !). There’s been some damage that I’ve started to repair. I’ve been using an extra light filler that I mix with resin – this results in a nice easy sand. 

I’ve mounted the balsa hull to a sheet of plywood as I’ll be attaching a small rim to the top of the hull. This will give more surface area to seal the hull deck to the hull. It will also serve to hold the encapsulent for the solar cells.

Below are a couple of snaps to prove Auton is still alive and well. Ignore the filler, it was my first time using it and may used a little too much.




On my various travels around the internet I sometimes stumble across really useful websites. The one I’m sharing today is It’s a beautiful website that visualises the current and future predictions for the wind forecast amongst other things such as cloud coverage.

As you can imagine, this could come in really handy for predicting short term weather.

You can view the site here.



OS Options

I’ve been investigating what OS to run on the Raspberry Pi, I’ve been looking for one that has an up to date kernel yet not come with all the bloat. The one I’m looking at the moment is called Minibian, more can be found on it just here but here are the most important features.

  • Kernel 3.12.28+ #709 ARM HF (Hard Float)
  • 21 secs boot
  • 16 MB RAM used
  • 314 MB disk space used
  • Fit on 512MB SD Card
  • Optimized ext4 file system with swap disabled
  • Support for both B and B+ version
  • Targeted for embedded or server applications (NAS, Web server, electronic applications)
  • 100% full compatbile with officiale release
  • DHCP client enabled
  • SSHD enabled
  • root user enabled (default password: raspberry – please change it a.s.a.p.)

Snoopy sets sail

As things are going a little slow on the Autonboat front I thought i’d post a little bit of news on the Sloopy boat. It’s creator, Rob Lovelock has recently set the little boat on it’s journey to the US. At first it got a little stuck in the tidal currents and then started to make it’s way down the English channel. Update: Unfortunately it looks like Snoopy has run aground. More on this after the break. Continue reading


New Raspberry Pi A+ Released

The fine folks at the Raspberry Pi towers have today announced a freshly baked Pi in the form of the A+. The A+ is a revamp of the A, not only is it cheaper and smaller but it pack more GPIO ports and consumes less power. I don’t have exact figures of the power savings but reading around it should be in the region of 20-25%, which will of course be a massive help for the Autonboat. Continue reading


Progress Photos

As promised i thought I’d upload a few photos of the hull with now complete strip planking. Next step is to continue with the sanding. I’ll be glueing the hull down to the flat surface, creating a small lip around the edges (described in the previous post) and then it will be on to laying a layer of fibreglass, finally it will be laying a layer of filler. This will enable a nice easy surface to sand.





This project is still going, its just been going at a snails pace. However i have had some spare time this past week and so i’ve carried on with the strip planking (still worries me how dodgy that sounds). I haven’t taken any pics (i’ll add them later) but i’ve now finished strip planking!!

Up next will be mounting the boat on a flat surface, i’ll be using a sheet of plywood. This allows me to ensure the top of the hull is flat. Once the hull is mounted on the flat surface i’ll create a little lip around the boat, this means when i create mould the top of the hull will have a little L shaped lip, the top of the hull will have the same. This gives me more surface to bond the two parts together,  and will hold the clear silicon (i can’t remember the correct name for it) that will cover and protect the solar cells on the deck.

Going forward i should have a little more time to spend on this (Finished organising the wedding), just to buy a house now!) and i hope to make some real progress. Funds are still tight, the £4 from the Google Ads doesn’t help that much!


An update!!

Yes, you may think your dreaming but i’ve actually had the time to post an update! An update to show there has actually been some progress!!

First up the news regarding Autonboat and it’s progress.

I’ve continued with the most time consuming job ever, strip planking. Hopefully i’ll have this finished in the next couple of days. I’ve included some pics in the post below to show you the progress i’ve made. Once the strip planking is completed there will be a single fibreglass layer placed on the balsa construction, once this has cured i shall be using fairing compound. Fairing compound allows you to create a thick sandable layer, this is when i’ll be taking the time to get it nice and smooth ready for creating a mould.

I’ve placed an order with the guys over at for the following;

  • Q-Cell Lightweight Filler 1kg
  • 1kg pack General Purpose Resin
  • Paddle Roller 140mm x 21mm
  • Demoulding Wedge 150x50x18mm
  • 2x2 Twill Fabric 280gm 100cm 3m role
  • Mixing Sticks 100 pack
  • Bucket 550ml 10 Pack
  • Catalyst Dispenser 15ml
  • 400ml (16oz) Paper Cups 10 pack

Of course i shall need more resin and fibreglass/chopped strand matting when i lay the mould. But the above gets me half way there.

Any tips? then let us know in the forums!

Other boats
You may of noticed if you’ve ventured into the forums recently that i’ve added another section called ‘Other boats’, this section is for any other projects similar to autonboat. So make sure you check out the thread for the latest news on a few of the attempts.

WP_20131028_003 WP_20131028_006




Testing the GPS Module

I’ve been playing around with the GPS module today (Ublox NEO-M6) and thought i’d post some information on it. I’ve started with the standard Rasbian Wheezy image and got everything booted up. Continue reading