Pioneer Program FAQ

Who can apply?

The Pioneer Program is open to anyone to apply. Special consideration will be given to individuals and organizations that:

  • Aren’t able to self fund as easily.

    If your organization has a budget for this, let us know, there are ways to still apply and make the most of what’s available.

  • Are working on novel technology or implementations in the marine tech space.

  • Have an idea that will make a big impact on marine science, climate, environmental protection/conservation, or a new idea to introduce to the blue economy.

  • Are able to share what they are doing with the Bristlemouth community.

    Not everyone can share everything that they are doing, but we hope that awardees will be able to share what they are able to.

What skills / experience should I have to make the most of it?

Being a Bristlemouth developer will require you to know or learn the following skills and experience:

  • C/C++ and/or Python programming
  • Command-line interface (CLI) use
  • Working collaboratively with other developers using GitHub
  • Marine hardware integration skills such as basic wiring and potting/waterproofing/penetrators
  • Deployment, testing, and recovery of hardware in a marine environment

You don’t need to be an expert in any of these. You’ll also be able to rely on help from the Bristlemouth community but if you’re starting at square one please think about how you are planning on getting the resources you need to succeed.

To get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into please check out the Development Kit guides here:

What do I get if I am awarded?

If you are awarded you will receive a fully-functional Sofar Spotter + Smart Mooring with a Bristlemouth Development Kit.

The Bristlemouth Development Kit includes the following:

  • Bristlemouth Mote
    • STM32U575CI ARM Cortex-M33 processor
    • Open source rmware with C/C++ and MicroPython [coming soon] user-programmability
    • Additional 64 Mbit NOR FLASH memory
    • Supported data rates of 10 Mb/s
  • Bristlemouth Development Board
    • I/O connection access for rapid prototyping and development
    • On-board interface transceivers for common payload protocols for the following: RS232 / RS422 / RS485 / SDI-12 / UART / SPI / I2C / GPIO
    • Digital interfaces for embedded integration
    • Provide power to payloads at 3.3Vdc and 5Vdc on the development board with third selectable delivery of 9Vdc, 12Vdc, or 19Vdc.
  • Marine Housing
    • Watertight enclosure keeps electronics safe and dry up to 100m
    • Dual Bristlemouth ports support daisy-chain configurations
    • Modifiable endcap for external sensors and payloads.

More information can be seen on the spec sheet:


What can I do with the Bristlemouth Development Kit?

Using the Bristlemouth Development Kit paired with a Bristlemouth-enabled Spotter, you can add plug-and-play functionality to your sensing application on the Spotter + Smart Mooring. This will enable you to:

  • Provide up to W of power to the connected Bristlemouth network. (Average sustainable energy available from solar panels depends on deployment latitude, time and configuration. Typically between 250mW and 1W).
  • Configure periodic sampling control to conserve energy for continuous long-dwell deployments.
  • Log data to SD card, send data to the cloud over satellite and/or cellular telemetry where it can be retrieved over the Sofar API.
  • Track systems and deployments with GPS positions and geofence alerts.

What is expected of me?

In terms of a timeline and deliverables the Pioneer Program is explicitly leaving this open-ended and long-term. Projects can vary in scope and we don’t want to limit what you can do with Bristlemouth. But we do hope that if awarded you will:

  • Make the most of the opportunity. There are a limited number of awards available and if you don’t have the time or resources to use it please consider passing it along.
  • Use the forum to connect with other Bristlemouth community members and share your experiences and project as you go along.
  • Help shape the future of Bristlemouth. Being a developer is more than just doing your own work. Bristlemouth is built by developers for developers. Consider being a pioneer as being a community leader first.

What are the added costs or other considerations?

Often the largest driver of cost is the development time / engineering hours needed. That depends on the project and what other things besides the awarded hardware you will need.

The Sofar Spotter + Smart Mooring comes with 3 free months of Iridium satellite data and 12 months of free cellular data. Ongoing costs can vary but expect to pay between $20 (cell) or $90 (satellite) per month for continuous usage in the field.

What kind of support can I expect?

The Bristlemouth community is behind you every step of the way. There is help available from other developers and Pioneers on the forum Dev Kit Support. There are also a number of in-person workshops and events to join Events.

Are there open libraries and example code?

Open libraries, how-to guides, and example code are central parts of the Bristlemouth ecosystem. As a Pioneer you will be amongst the first users of Bristlemouth so it’s unlikely that your exact use case or integration will have something already made. Some of the core features and functionality have examples already and there will be a lot more to come from Bristlemouth and the Pioneers over the next weeks and months. But this is also a call to action:

As a Pioneer, we’re counting on you to be the one to share your work. When you find something that works for you, maybe these can become examples for others to use in the future.

Do I have to share my work? How open-source do I need to be?

Not everyone can share everything. We completely understand if you need to keep some things to yourself, so it’s not a requirement to be a Pioneer. But, we bet you’ll find that getting help from the community will be a lot faster and more helpful if you’re able to show us what you’re working on.

But everyone can share something. A lot of what makes Bristlemouth special is that it is a community of scientists, engineers, conservationists, students, and hobbyists who are all enthusiastic about tackling some of our biggest problems and answering some of the most urgent questions (not to mention in one of the harshest environments). If you share what you can you’ll find others who are just as passionate about your work as you…and maybe partners, new collaborators, and/or life-long friends.

What if I want to commercialize my idea / project?

Awesome, the Bristlemouth community loves that. The future of Bristlemouth both creates and depends on a robust and sustainable ecosystem of commercial marine hardware. Let us know how we can help.