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Project Pontoon Pool Skimmer

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KozmoK

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#1
What do I do on my Spare Time? I like to do little projects! My next project I am going be developing is a Robotic Pool skimmer.

There are currently 2 similar products out there.

Remote Controlled Skimmer - Jet Net

http://www.smarthome.com/dunn-rite-pool-jn06-jet-net-remote-control-pool-skimmer.html
buy cheaper here: http://www.sears.com/dunn-rite-dunn...=Y&PID=1609763&AID=11044874&redirectType=SRDT



You must use the remote control, and keep it going forward, or the leaves can flow out of the front.


Solar-Breeze Skimmer (not a remote control, but a robot)
http://www.solar-breeze.com/




I have the Solar Breeze Currently, however it has some downfalls. Its designed to go straight until it bangs into something, the propeller gets caught up on rocks etc and damages the gears.

The debris compartment needs to be emptied all the time, and it doesn't hold much. Also, when you try to get the unit out of the water, it will release a lot of the small debris. I've had this repaired 2 times now, and I am afraid they wont repair it again, as the warranty will soon be out - and its running into my pools rock waterfall, which their warranty states you must not have.

The solar part of this Solar-Breeze is really nice, never have to worry about charging it, it will hunt around until it has a suitable charge to start going. When this does work in my pool, it works well. Cost of this is $500 and some change. This is slow as hell, it is designed to take its time, since it can run all day with the sun out. They put a lot of R&D $ into this.

So! I am going to be trying my own build!


Description
===============================

The unit will be a pontoon type boat with two motors powering 2 paddle wheels, a left and a right. It will only go forward. This unit wont be remote controlled, but will be controlled by a Adruino Uno board. It will have a ultrasonic ping detector to know when an object is 1-2 feet away, and will tell one motor to stop, while the other motor runs avoiding the walls as much as possible, and definitely wont sit still like my Solar-Breeze does when its stuck.

Mine should go 2x-3x as fast as the solar breeze, and clean the pool in 15 minutes or less. If the battery runs down, it will go to an edge and stop. If it doesnt sense an edge it will hunt for one. Heck I can even have it hunt for a docking space :)

The paddle wheels/impeller will be powered by 2 RC car/boat/airplane engines with electronic Speed Controls and a LiPo battery Pack.

I will be having some parts made by 3D Printing to get the prototype done.

Phase 1 will be to get a movable boat
Phase 2 will be to figure out best way to collect debris
Phase 3 will be to figure out how to solar charge the LiPo battery so you dont have to take it out of the pool and charge it

I very well could have taken the remote controlled skimmer, and hacked it with my mods - but I wanted to do it a little cheaper, and totally on my own.

Parts
===============================

Two 2" by 2' PVC Pipe from home depot
Two 2" PVC End Caps (for rear Pipe ends)
Two Pontoon Front Caps being made VIA 3D Printer
1 small sheet (12" x 18") of ABS Plastic to connect the pontoons to create the deck
Two HobbyWing Ezrun Brushless Sensorless 25A-SL-LVer. 2 12T Motor (probably overkill, the motors don't need to run fast)
1 Adruinio Uno R3 Board
Two Ultrasonic Distance Modules, to detect left/right
LiPo Battery and Charger
Two Plastic Impellers (to be used as a paddle wheel) - will try different ones to find a good fit
Misc Wires, LED's, Switches

I will be providing some PICS as I go, first PICS will be this weekend hopefully. I've ordered all the parts, and waiting patiently!


Here are the Pontoon Tips I am getting 3D Printed to fit into the front ends of the PVC Pipe:



Contact me if you want any of these printed, I can give you the contact here that will do that.

Some quick thoughts on a debris catcher, I could make something like the Jet Net above, but have a butterfly flap at the opening, that when goes forward it opens up to let stuff in - I can also use a servo to open it, not sure what I will do.

I have a design in my head - I will just wait it out until I get the boat built and working first.

Quicky MS Paint Sketch of Layout - The two orange rectangles in the middle are for the water impeller (Paddle Wheel) to fit through.

 
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Akula

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#2
Thats kick ass... I didnt know those were out there... I have to go out every morning & clean the skimmers... Sucks ass...
 

KozmoK

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#3
Thats kick ass... I didnt know those were out there... I have to go out every morning & clean the skimmers... Sucks ass...
Well Build one with me!!! Let me get mine up and rolling first. If for some reason my pontoons dont work well, I will use 3/4 PVC Pipe with a Pool Noodle like this RC Boat Retriever (this is not mine)

 
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Akula

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#4
I'll have all Fall, Winter, & Spring to work on it... We are winterizing it now... In Minnesota, August is usually the last month swimming... :*(
 

KozmoK

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#5
Shit, we still have 2 months! I will have a proto type built here in 2 weeks hopefully, and everything smoothed out. We actually dont ever winterize it rarely gets below 50 here

Yeah nothing like during winter months going out and cleaning/skimming the pool!
 
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TheRevolution

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#6
Ohh shit that is awesome!! We don't have a pool but my sister-in-law does. Her husband would love for me to build him something like this. Considering I haven't done any programming since college, 20 years ago, I'd have to steal your code for the Audrino. :)

Let us know how it works out.
 

KozmoK

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#7
Got my Tips picked up today!!!!!!!!! They turned out so nice:



Here is a mock up with no glue. I am going to need a thicker acrylic sheet, going to look for a ABS sheet (white) same demensions

upload_2014-9-5_11-8-23.png
 
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KozmoK

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#9
Float Test - It performed better then expected, and glided through the water in my spa. This is def because of the tips. I put tape round the tips to temporarily bond it to the pipe. You can't see the acrylic sheet connecting the two pipes. You can see my 4 screws holding it on. I am going to be ordering a 12" x 15" .125 Thick sheet to replace the acrylic. This thickness will allow me to put some weight on it.

I am thinking some custom 3D Printed End Caps may reduce any drag at all. (Once I put the net on the front part, that will be the biggest drag, so we dont need any extra.

upload_2014-9-5_12-1-34.png
 
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KozmoK

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#11
You can probably get that size acrylic sheet at Home Depot.
I ended up online ordering 2 pieces to the exact size, so I don't have to cut it myself.
Cut to: 12" x 15" 0.177" - its almost double the size thickness of the piece I am using now. I don't want it to flex that much. If it flexes too much, I will go to the next thickness (1/4" = .236" = 6mm)
Just in case I ordered this too: https://www.tapplastics.com/product/plastics/cut_to_size_plastic/pvc_sheets/531 --
PVC Sheets (Cut-to-Size) - Ultra White
1/4 (.236) inches Thick, 12 inches Wide, 15 inches Long



I went to home depot, they have thicker bigger sizes but I didn't want to cut it... I will wait the 3-7 days for it to arrive at my door :)

EDIT: So I don't crowd up the whole thread with my minor updates.

I got it in the pool and did some drag tests... The Front end with the tips are freaking awesome.. I can give this thing a shove and it cuts through the water great and goes a good distance (1/2 my pool). I did notice a big wake where the black caps are.

Also the Black caps are 2 times heavier then the front tips, and so it dips lower on the back.

I am having the 3D Printer guru print me up two rear tips with no horizontal stabilizer fins, but add 1 vertical bottom fin. This will give it no drag at all, make it go straighter (you know like a real boat!). This will add more buoyancy to the rear, which is great.


Instead of drilling and mounting the plastic sheet to the pipe, I am thinking of using a fastener of some sort. I couldnt find any, I found one close, but I dont want it to wrap around, I want it less then half.

upload_2014-9-5_17-36-27.png

So I may have these 3D printed if I can't find any. (I chopped the rest of the image off on purpose).. I would glue these to the pvc, and possibly drive 1 stainless screen through the flat part into the top of the pipe, creating a good mounting surface.
 
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KozmoK

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#12
RANDOM THOUGHTS WRITTEN DOWN

I received my 3D Printed parts today for the rear caps, and Deck Mounts! They turned out killer! I will post some pics tomorrow, as I got home late today. I did a test in the pool and it glides through the pool end to end with one little push, almost too good for what I need it to.

It will be interesting to see if my paddle wheel motor type will work out, I need to keep the impellers as far apart as they can be.

Here are the end pieces 3d printed..

upload_2014-9-8_9-23-5.png

I don't know if my project will work out, but with these 3D printed parts + 2" PVC from home depot, this could make a awesome remote control pontoon boat! Its surely glides well, and the water level only comes up to 1/2 the pipe.
If it doesn't I will definitely take it out to the lake with a high speed motor!

Waiting on my two HobbyWing Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) and 12T 2030 Motor....Once these come in, I can finish up my programming of the ADRUINO.

I was playing around with my BeagleBone Board, and another boat motor I had, and the ADRUINO is way easier. The BeagleBone is more expensive and is way overkill for this project.

I Really Really want to glue these pieces to the Pipes, but I will be drilling holes in the pipes for best placement of the plastic Deck to find the best placement for it, so I can't glue until I have the final positions of everything, or else I will be buying new pontoon parts :(

I may take the 24" pipes and cut 6" from them to make it a little more compact.
 
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KozmoK

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#14
Well I got some time today to work on the boat.

Here are the latest PIC. Still using the tape to secure the tips, because I don't want to be 3D Printing new ones all the time :)
I
UPDATE: Learned something about the ESC Brushless motors I was using... They really need to be geared down for what I am using them for. I went to my local hobby store and talked to the guru there. He hooked me up with

HBZ7129 CUB GearBox
HBZ7134 Motor w/Pinion CUB
AQUM7037 ESC forward/reverse bristol bay fisihing boat (Electronic Speed Controller)...

So the Two Combo Kits I have are worthless now - $100 down the drain.

New problem, Since I put on the mounts, and the new PVC Sheet board for the Deck - Its too high for my impellers to be atleast a inch under water...gotta figure something out to lower them without getting everything wet.

I have my adruino code working the motors now, took some tricks in calibrating without a remote control. The slowest speed might night be enough, not sure.

Next Up is mounting the motors. I need to cut impeller/motor rectangles out of that thick ABS plastic.

mockup.JPG

almost1.JPG almost2.JPG almost3.JPG
 
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KozmoK

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#15
Well the height with the Pipe Mounts are too tall. My Impeller doesn't make enough contact with the water to make it move much. I need to drop it an inch.

I drimeled out the PVC pipe and layed the plastic sheet into it. Its currently drying right now after gluing.
 

TheRevolution

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#16
If that doesn't work what about making it an airboat?? Mount an engine and propeller on top to push air instead.
 

KozmoK

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#18
at first battery - once I get the whole thing working, then solarize it.

I am waiting for two pinion gears to be delivered in the mail - I geared the motors down a bit so they dont spin so fast!
 

KozmoK

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#20
I will pick this back up when I get back from Training in 2 weeks.

I have been busy with the website issues lately. I have some updates to post about it :)
 
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