The idea for an Arduino-based drifting buoy arose from a fascination with the Internet of Things applied to the ocean. In 2016 we deployed an Arduino-based buoy with GPS and an Iridium transceiver off Norfolk, VA. Amazingly, that buoy lasted over two years and travelled over 9000 miles. Since then, several more capable buoys have been deployed and documented here. The current Maker Buoy design is a descendant of those earlier buoys, but smaller, cheaper, and easier to construct. This design is currently in use providing valuable information on ocean currents.
We don't condone putting more plastic in the ocean, but we hope lower cost drifting buoys can contribute to environmental awareness and a better understanding of the ocean environment.