Vanchor - An Open Source Trolling Motor

My latest project: Vanchor (Virtual Anchor)

Vanchor is an Open Source trolling motor for smaller boats. It’s created with a goal to be cheap and easily modifiable to fit your needs. The total cost of the project including a cheap trolling motor is around $300.


Hold Position

Locks the boat in position by using GPS. It can be configured to an radius that fits the acuraccy of your GPS receiver.

Hold Heading

Locks the travel towards the current magnetic heading. It has 2 different modes:

  • GPS Mode - Travels in a straight line from current destination to a waypoint 1000km away with the help of the AutoPilot. This counters side-drift that might occur.
  • If GPS is not available, it will use the eCompass to try to hold heading. This does not counteract sidedrift in the same way as GPS Mode.


AutoPilot reacts to NMEA APB sentences and steers the boat accordingly. The APB sentences can be generated in 2 ways:

  1. From a plotter, like a Garmin, Humminbird or OpenCPL
  2. From a GPX file with waypoints

NMEA server

Can send and receive NMEA to apps like Navionics, iNavX or SignalK

Web interface

Vanchor is controlled through a web interface with bootstrap and JS.

Written on September 22, 2021