2021 HDP Dream Team: EJA

Learn more about Team EJA's intelligent buoy, and how their solution will help the global fight against ghost gear.

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The Challenge-

Reducing Ghost Gear:
Up to 10% of the world’s ocean plastic comes from lost or abandoned fishing gear. This poses a threat to large whales (the Red List estimates that 45% of all threatened marine mammals are impacted) and small crabs (NOAA estimates that there are 145,000 derelict crab pots still “fishing” in the Chesapeake Bay alone, killing over 3 million crabs a year).

This challenge seeks innovations that reduce “soak time” – the time that gear (pots or longlines) has to be left in the water unnecessarily, or deployment in undesirable locations, that increase the chances of snags, or loss.

The Team:

Erin "RobotGrrl" Kennedy
Robotics and Digital Fabrication
Canada, Ontario, Ottawa / Kingston

Oluwatobi Oyinlola
Embedded Systems Engineer and Inventor
Nigeria, Ibadan

Leonardo Ward
Electronics Engineer and Technology Developer
Venezuela, La Guaira, Catia La Mar


How might we decrease the occurrence of marine species entanglements with fishing gear and decrease ghost gear creation, while making the commercial fishing process more intelligent for fisheries?

Our main goal is the prevention of gear loss. A great solution not only benefits the environment but also benefits the fishers, they can avoid the income losses that ghost gear creates and also benefit from an intelligent gear that collaborates to improve their efficiency. 

To achieve our goal we define a concept of operations the includes an intelligent buoy that allows fishers to track the position of the traps, and a ropeless mechanism that prevents entanglements.


This project contains the design of 2 electronic devices (from left to right in the following image): the Intelligent Buoy and the Onboard Gateway.

Intelligent Buoy

To achieve the position marking of the traps we selected 5 main components

  1. ESP32-DEVKITC-32D
  2. RFM95W LoRa Radio
  4. Adafruit Ultimate GPS
  5. SIM7600CE-T 4G(LTE) Arduino Shield

From this main components we designed 2 PCBs: Buoy A V1.0 and Buoy B V1.0.

Buoy A V1.0 is a 141.73 mm x 54.86 mm PCB that integrates the 5 main components (ESP32, LoRa, GPS, Motor Driver and GSM/GPRS). Buoy B V1.0 is a 102.46 mm x 44.20 mm PCB that integrates 4 of the main components (ESP32, LoRa, GPS and Motor Driver). 

To describe the PCB designs we have prepared the following guides:

It is possible to adapt more modules/breakout boards to the current designs, there are dedicated connectors that allow it in each board, we have explored the following additions:

Onboard Gateway

Onboard Gateway is a 134.11 mm x 62.48 mm PCB that is used to communicate with the intelligent buoy and receive the GPS data. The design integrates 3 main components

  1. ESP32-DEVKITC-32D
  2. RFM95W LoRa Radio
  3. USB LiIon/LiPoly charger

From this main components we designed the PCB: Onboard Gateway V1.0 (134.11 mm x 62.48 mm).

To describe the PCB design we have prepared the following guides:


The Eja ropeless gear system consists of three parts: Release Mechanism, Intelligent Buoy, and Onboard Gateway. Here are the mechanical design specifications for each, also available as a pdf here.

Release Mechanism

3D viewer:

Intelligent Buoy

3D viewer:

Onboard Gateway

3D viewer:

For additional information relating to the Bill of Materials and the Parametric Design, please see this project log: Mechanical Design Specifications.

All of the 3D print files, .STEP assembly, and more can be found on Github here.

Eja Resources & Links.pdf

All of the links for our project

Adobe Portable Document Format - 29.27 kB - 10/01/2020 at 17:15


Eja - System Overview.pdf

One pager of Eja system overview

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.58 MB - 10/01/2020 at 17:13


Eja - Features and Applications.pdf

One-pager of Eja features and applications

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.68 MB - 10/01/2020 at 17:13


Eja Final Presentation.pdf

Slides of our final presentation

Adobe Portable Document Format - 5.69 MB - 10/01/2020 at 17:03


Eja Concept Review FINAL.pdf

Slides of our concept review presentation on July 20

Adobe Portable Document Format - 2.86 MB - 10/01/2020 at 17:01


View all 12 files

  • 2 × ESP32 DEVKITC 32D Microcontroller | Onboard Gateway V1.0 | Buoy A V1.0 | Buoy B V1.0
  • 1 × Adafruit Ultimate GPS GPS | Buoy A and B V1.0
  • 1 × CONN HDR 6POS 0.1 TIN PCB Connector for the Battery Charger and the GSM/GPRS Module | Onboard Gateway V1.0 | Buoy A V1.0
  • 3 × CONN HDR 9POS 0.1 GOLD PCB Connector for the LoRa Module and the GPS | Onboard Gateway V1.0 | Buoy A V1.0 | Buoy B V1.0
  • 4 × CONN HDR 19POS 0.1 TIN PCB Connector for the ESP32 | Onboard Gateway V1.0 | Buoy A V1.0 | Buoy B V1.0

View all 21 components

View all 70 project logs

View all 3 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Carlos Sanoja wrote 09/03/2020 at 11:32 point

Hi guys, what an incredible project, I understand you have been working for a couple of months now, hopefully you can share some progress. I'm an embedded developer and I would like to see how this project has been tackled, but I see that you haven't published anything about it yet, my notes include:

1. What tools are you using? FreeRTOS?
2. How do you manage the offline behavior? I checked some hardware descriptions and I don't see any RTC, do you have any different idea to address this issue maybe by software? If you are using it, how is the process of initializing the device to take the correct time reference in your code? Without a doubt being in the middle of the ocean without an internet connection is a big problem.

3. Will you publish your work opensource? with some repository?

I hope you can answer my questions and I wish you the best of success, waiting to see your results!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Oluwatobi Oyinlola wrote 09/05/2020 at 08:18 point

Thank you for your comment really appreciate it,

1. We are using ESP32 (NodeMCU) which is almost generally available everywhere if anyone need to prototype it, together with Arduino IDE

2. Well, RTC will be included-still contemplating if we should implement it in the firmware or just put the hardware RTC(Probably YES) and about the internet connection- yes we are saving a spiff data inside the microcontroller (About 50 or more data) which will be uploaded when the bouy is connected to the onboard gateway, and push the data when the bouy is on top of the water with Internet to AWS server.

3. Absolutely, its is completely opensource.

For team EJA.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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