Raspberry Pi Pico W Powers Tiny Recycled Bluetooth Boat

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Mr. Nr)

The Raspberry Pi Pico has been used for tons of cool RC projects from simple robotic cars to robotic drones. Today we’re excited to share something on the nautical side created by Mr. Nr from YouTube channel Lily’s Planet. Using our favorite SBC, he’s created what he calls the Niki boat. It uses the Pico to drive a tiny RC boat built entirely from scratch by Mr. Nr using recycled bottles. So not only do you have the fun of playing captain, you get to help the environment along the way.

The Pico is responsible for driving a tiny motor that causes the boat to locomote across the water. It also is able to be controlled remotely thanks to its Bluetooth support. In this project, Mr. Nr has created a mobile phone app that can be used as a controller so all you need to pilot this teensy ship is a smartphone.

As we mentioned above, the body was created using recycled bottles. This makes for a cheap chassis that is quite buoyant and lightweight. It consists of three contact lens solution containers stuck together and the cap to a water bottle to with a little propeller attached. Hardware is housed inside of the center bottle and sealed up for protection from the water.

 If you want to make something similar, here’s a parts list provided by Mr. Nr detailing what went into the project. It uses a Raspberry Pi Pico connected to a dAISy HAT. This is an Automatic Identification System (or AIS) receiver which is used to signal location data for boats. A battery powers the unit as well as a small DC motor which makes the propeller rotate. Lastly, Mr. Nr is using three plastic bottles as the main body.

To handle the Bluetooth communication, Mr. Nr is using an application called LightBlue. This is a mobile app designed to communicate with low energy Bluetooth devices, like the Raspberry Pi Pico. Mr. Nr also opted to use QT Design Studio which is made for created user interfaces. In this case, he’s able to set up controls for the boat that can be used by his smartphone.

If you want to get a closer look at this Raspberry Pi project, you can see it in action over at Mr. Nr’s demo video shared to YouTube. He not only shows off the final project but gives some behind the scenes footage of its creation process.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.