Author Topic: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie  (Read 755 times)

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Offline waymond91

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Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« on: October 16, 2021, 11:28:06 pm »
Hello all!
I am getting ready to have a PCB I have been working on assembled, and I was just hoping to run it by some other people (no other EEs here with me).

WHAT I AM MAKING:
A spearfishing walkie talkie to help freedivers, snorkelers, and spearfishers track and communicate with their diver partners.
The device does the following:
  • Guides you to your partner in the event of a shallow water blackout: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shallow-water_blackout
  • Notifies you if your partner has been underwater longer than a preset amount of time
  • Notifies you if you and your partner have drifted farther apart than a preset distance
  • Notifies you when your partner submerges or emerges (actually diving below the surface of the water)
  • Basic "walkie talkie" function so you can communicate if and when you are seperated
An early rendering of the device:
spearfishing-mask-and-snorkel-silver-v30" border="0

HOW IT WORKS
  • A GPS receiver tracks your location and an IMU tracks your orientation
  • A LoRa module transmits your location to your dive partner
  • When you dive, the radio link between you and your partner is broken (as water blocks anything except ELF)
  • When the link breaks, a speaker sounds on your partners unit indicating that you have submerged
  • When the link breaks, a timer starts counting your "elapsed down time."
  • If you do not surface in a given amount of time, your buddies device enters "emergency mode" guiding them to your last known surface location to help recover your body and resuscitate you
  • If you do surface as expected, the speaker sounds another notification indicating you are back on the surface

There are a few other features, but these are the most critical.

EARLY DEMONSTRATIONS
We've actually done some preliminary testing in the water and the water did not interfere in a significant way while on the surface.
Software Demo:
Screenshot-2021-10-16-193137" border="0
Location Demo
Screenshot-2021-10-16-193848" border="0

Those first few demos were put together with some TTGO TBEAM boards + a BNO055 imu + piezo buzzer.


HARDWARE OVERVIEW:
The board makes us of the following hardware:
  • An ESP32-WROOMU for main the main MCU and mobile configuration
  • A generic LoRa module for transmitting location and audio
  • A BNO055 for an IMU and AHRS
  • A Quectel L89 GNSS receiver
  • An ICS-43434 MEMs microphone for audio capture
  • A MAX98357AETE for speaker amplification (a la Adafruit)
  • A MCP4725 DAC to provide 12bit output to the speaker
  • A MCP73831 single cell lipo charger
  • A XC6220B331MR LDO linear regulator
The project makes use of 3 PCBs.
The main "back" PCB which hosts all main components except the GNSS receiver.
A "front" PCB which hosts the GNSS receiver and a larger ground plane (hopefully to help with receiver accuracy).
A "bottom" PCB which contains two concentric, capacitive touch pads to provide contactless button functionality. There must be two to provide a reference between a real button press and submerging underwater.

A 3D assembly of an older PCB layout:
Screenshot-2021-10-16-194728" border="0Screenshot-2021-10-16-194742" border="0

My current PCB layout as of this morning:
Screenshot-2021-10-16-185405" border="0

MY CURRENT CHALLENGES:
  • Bearing accuracy - The BNO055 can provide a bearing accuracy of +/- a few degrees. However, if both GPS devices are off by 2 meters (very common in with GPS) there's a scenario where the bearing accuracy will be off by as much as 40 degrees while 5m away from your partner. Here's a graph of the bearing error, distance, and gps error (expressed as "r"): https://www.desmos.com/calculator/wyhzkjrkmo
    For this reason, I'm hoping that a Kalman filter will help significantly. But I have never implemented my own GPS + IMU kalman filter, does anyone have an idea of what kind of results I can expect?
  • Capacitive touch button in wet environment- I don't want any physical button for the device as the pressure and wet environment really makes it quite a mechanical hassle. So a capacitive touch will be used. In order to remove false positives created while submerged (the water will activate the touch sensor) there are two touch pads and the difference is compared
  • Voice Activity Detection- This is a new feature that I recently wanted to add. Because the device really only has one button (long press for on/off, and short press to emergency locate your partner) I would like the device to auto-detect when you are speaking, clean the signal, compress, and transmit over LoRa. I have never done VAD before, but it seems that the new ESP32 libraries from espressif support some level of offline voice recognition/VAD. Maybe there is tflite network that can work? Does anyone have experience with this?
    Since the microphone and speaker will be in a water tight enclosure, far away from the user's mouth, I'm worried that something "special" will have to be implemented to amplify and denoise the signal.
  • Waterproofing/Potting- prototyping a watertight enclosure presents a lot of challenges. If possible, I would prefer to pot the whole assembly in epoxy (or some such thing) and tack on a universal qi wireless charging receiver. However, I don't have good ideas regarding how to ensure that the microphone and speaker retain functionality if the whole circuit is potted in resin.
  • Charging Circuit- This should be relatively straightforward, but I'd like the device to be powered on and charge while plugged into USB/Qi. Currently I'm basically just using two schottky diodes to switch between USB and battery power. Is a circuit similar to what I have here functional? Is it a common implementation?:
    Screenshot-2021-10-17-011354" border="0

 :-+ :-+ :-+ ALL FEEDBACK WELCOME! :-+ :-+ :-+
This is a passion project for myself and a couple spearfishing communities I am part of, and as a result, the feature creep (and the project complexity) is getting out of hand.
Any input at any level to help bring this project to life would be a huge help! I have been working on this alone in my apartment for too long, and an extra set of eyes on this would be a huge help.

SCHEMATIC ATTACHED BELOW
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 02:38:50 am by waymond91 »
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2021, 11:40:55 pm »
Potting RF modules, and antennas in particular will change their characteristics, probably to the point where they won't work to spec, or at all.
Batteries will also be a challenge.

Capsensing in a wet environment is a bad idea. I'd go for something that measures flexing of a thinned part of the enclosure wall - this could potentially be capacitive.

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Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2021, 11:56:19 pm »
Thanks for the feedback. I think the main use case for this device would push it to about 10-50 meters of depth depending on the group. So most IP68/9 rated buttons would require a lot of force to depress if they are not going going to "self depress" at depth... Likewise a "flex" sensor I worry might also give some false positives, or be very tough to push.

I was hoping that if I provided a reference cap sense and compared the difference between the two I could get away from this issue - excuse my horrible picture:
Screenshot-2021-10-17-015242" border="0

It worked on a spare circuit board in my kitchen sink :palm:
But who knows how that actually works out in the ocean. Is it really show-stopper?
***imagines waves hitting back of head and water dripping off the button on the device***
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 12:01:38 am by waymond91 »
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2021, 12:03:09 am »
I'm surprised that potting an RF modules affects its performance if the material is non-ferrous. Is there some crazy piezo-electric thing happening that I don't understand?
 

Offline Benta

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2021, 12:19:30 am »
A CB Radio underwater?
A GPS tracker underwater?
And this all in a salt water environment?

Wow. The US Navy's VLF communications have been wrong all the years...

I'll be buying an Eiffel Tower tomorrow.
Nice Sales Plug disguised as a post/thread here, though.

« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 12:31:13 am by Benta »
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2021, 12:22:17 am »
Hahaha - well so the GNSS isn’t really supposed to be working underwater - just on the surface before you dive down. Freediving not SCUBA
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 12:31:12 am by waymond91 »
 

Offline Benta

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2021, 12:24:13 am »
Yes.

« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 12:26:27 am by Benta »
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2021, 12:28:07 am »
Lol yes I’m hitting the giant “electronics hobbyist + spearfishing enthusiast” market.

But seriously if you do know any ELF/VLF modules or reference designs I’d love to check them out. Can the public use those frequencies?

Hmmm… can you triangulate with just two points underwater? Or would it have to locate like some kind of dowsing rod?
Can you even send audio on public ELF/VLF frequencies?
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 02:30:06 am by waymond91 »
 

Offline Benta

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2021, 12:41:15 am »
This thread needs to go over to "Dodgy Technology". Not because of the questions, but due to the presentation

Moderator, please!
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2021, 01:16:03 am »
What’s wrong with the presentation? I was just trying to make my design intent clear so people have context for feedback.

I was excited to share, but now I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong, if this a joke, or just am being trolled…

Like you get what I’m trying to make - if it’s not a good idea please pitch a different device/subsystem instead of just throwing shade - you’re gonna scare off people who might actually have some useful ideas for me.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2021, 01:42:03 am by waymond91 »
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2021, 04:32:04 am »
I don't see anything wrong with this thread. It's a big forum, there's always a chance someone will react negatively, just ignore them.
 
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Offline cgroen

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2021, 08:34:06 am »
What’s wrong with the presentation? I was just trying to make my design intent clear so people have context for feedback.

I was excited to share, but now I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong, if this a joke, or just am being trolled…

Like you get what I’m trying to make - if it’s not a good idea please pitch a different device/subsystem instead of just throwing shade - you’re gonna scare off people who might actually have some useful ideas for me.

Nothing wrong with the presentation at all, there might be a couple of challenges in the project, but so there is in most projects. You clearly stated that GPS is only above water, Lora too, so nothing wrong there. Be aware of the potting of antennas etc, it WILL change the antennas quite a bit. In devices I do in my "day job", the antennas are mostly seperate from the GPS receiver, this enables ud to tune the C/L circuits to help with the de-tune the potting does. One thing that we have found to be of great value is to have a "shell" around the antennas so that the potting compound are kept away from the antennas (by maybe 5 to 10 mm), this helps a lot.

And yes, as james_s writes, some people are best to be ignored :)
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2021, 09:19:27 am »
Thanks for the feedback. I think the main use case for this device would push it to about 10-50 meters of depth depending on the group. So most IP68/9 rated buttons would require a lot of force to depress if they are not going going to "self depress" at depth... Likewise a "flex" sensor I worry might also give some false positives, or be very tough to push.

You only need to detect a sudden change in pressure, so pressure from water shouldn't be an issue as long as you have enough sensing range. You might also want to look at using an accellerometer to detect a tap or shake in specific directions.

Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2021, 10:34:50 am »
You only need to detect a sudden change in pressure, so pressure from water shouldn't be an issue as long as you have enough sensing range. You might also want to look at using an accellerometer to detect a tap or shake in specific directions.

Ok that makes good sense.The accelerometer seems like a winner since all the changes can be made on the PCB without fiddling with the enclosure. Plus it should be easier to take theU from a deep sleep since it can probably generate an interrupt…

I swear I considered the accelerometer but I talked myself out of it because I seemed to think it would produce too many false positives when worn.

I know that a lot of them you can set some detection thresholds…

Just wondering, is there a part off hand you have worked with or can think of?
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2021, 10:40:41 am »
Ok this is so foreign to me! If somebody outside the field told me this was the case with potting electronics I would have told them they’re crazy. Its not just a matter of picking a different porting compound then?

My RF design is pretty horrible, which is a problem given the project is all radios. I was considering using ESP NOW to remove the LoRa transceiver…

Clearance around sensitive parts makes a lot of sense. I don’t suppose you have experience potting audio components?
 

Offline cgroen

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2021, 10:42:06 am »
Ok this is so foreign to me! If somebody outside the field told me this was the case with potting electronics I would have told them they’re crazy. Its not just a matter of picking a different porting compound then?

My RF design is pretty horrible, which is a problem given the project is all radios. I was considering using ESP NOW to remove the LoRa transceiver…

Clearance around sensitive parts makes a lot of sense. I don’t suppose you have experience potting audio components?

If the question was directed at me, sorry, no experience potting audio
 

Offline waymond91

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2021, 10:43:53 am »
Haha yes sorry struggling to use the forum on my phone.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2021, 06:18:56 pm »
RF is almost black magic, dielectric materials indeed have a huge effect on things. This is why you typically can't use ordinary FR4 PCB material at microwave frequencies and fancy exotic substrates exist. The losses when using fiberglass PCBs would be far too high for most applications.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Spearfishing Walkie Talkie
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2021, 10:59:15 pm »
You only need to detect a sudden change in pressure, so pressure from water shouldn't be an issue as long as you have enough sensing range. You might also want to look at using an accellerometer to detect a tap or shake in specific directions.

Ok that makes good sense.The accelerometer seems like a winner since all the changes can be made on the PCB without fiddling with the enclosure. Plus it should be easier to take theU from a deep sleep since it can probably generate an interrupt…

I swear I considered the accelerometer but I talked myself out of it because I seemed to think it would produce too many false positives when worn.

I know that a lot of them you can set some detection thresholds…

Just wondering, is there a part off hand you have worked with or can think of?
they are all very similar, though pinouts and register maps vary a lot. At the moment the biggest issue is finding any that are in stock :-(
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
Day Job: Mostly LEDs
 


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