The point of this exercise was to test the thrust of the motors on one of the boats I purchased as a donor hull. It is able to push a normal sized leaf net around the pool (slowly).
This particular boat has dual motors/propellers and steers via “tank control”. It turns in relatively large circles even when a leaf net is not taped to the front. Luckily, I bought more than one…my plan is to built a dual hull boat (catamaran) with the leaf net (and a larger 12v sealed lead acid battery, and perhaps a solar cell) between the two hulls. That way I’ll have two props on each side of the boat, and should be able to turn much faster because the thrust will have a larger moment arm. Also, I’ll have twice the thrust (and hopefully less than twice the drag?).
I don’t know if the motors in the boats can be ran in reverse. They can’t be reversed using the provided remote control, but once I wire them up to a standard H-Bridge I suspect I may be able to travel backwards. That will be key for keeping from getting stuck directly up against a wall.
I’ll need to work out a nice roller arrangement to make it easy to skim along the sides of the pool (where a lot of leaves stick) while still being able to scrape and escape corners. My current plan is to built the mechanical platform making use of the provided remotes for testing purposes (the boats can be selected between 3 different channels, so I’ll be able to control two at once) and only work on the robotic control (sensing, h-bridge, autonomous motion) after the mechanical system is working well. At a minimum, I want it to be able to pilot around all 4 walls, and perhaps just do a random walk through the rest of the water. I also want it to be able to detect the pool skimmer opening, and be able to drive the debris net up against it (and wait, or reverse) to deposit the debris it has picked up.
Here are some commercially built similar items: