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  • Surfgate 2011 Wakesetter esp32

    • Year: Choose Below Brand: Malibu Model / Trim: Wakesetter Device Type : Hinged Gate Style Surf Device Material: Other Control: Powered with Automated Controller Cost: $500-$999 Platform Type: Fiberglass

    This is similar to a lot of the DIY surf gate installs. In particular Marks CorianGate install gave me the confidence to start drilling. And it inspired my gate material selection. I used some left over Corian countertop material from my parents home built in the 80's. So, theres one point for being a hoarder.

    I upgraded this year from an older, IO boat to a used 2011 Wakesetter VLX. I was able to surf on it, but it got old quick switching ballast around to change sides. I determined that some mods were required to get the most from this boat. So, with inspiration from everyone else here who has made a DIY surf gate, I decided to make my own.

    I started by making a plywood version of what I thought the gates should be. I made mine about 12x18, worried that bigger gates would put more force on the hull that it was not designed for. They seem to work pretty well, so I'm not sure how much the size and shape of the gates affect the resultant wave.

    I first assembled the hinges, and test gates into a test fixture that I could use to test the controller software. This also let me do a test install with crap hardware to see how the gates hinge, and how much of a bevel was needed on the hinge side of the gates.



    I wanted my gate to be as automated as possible, with GPS control and all of the bells and whistles, so it had to have an electronic controller. I have a lot of esp32 controllers laying around that I wanted to use. They are pretty advanced with WiFi and Bluetooth which I figure could be handy for firmware updates and for potential control from a smartwatch. I'm not sure how well that would work, but why not put the capability there?

    The controller is not as full featured as I want it to be yet, but so far it has GPS, multiple gate control levels, wifi control, wifi firmware updating, and a nifty e-ink screen.


    I just used some 20A relays that I found on Amazon. There's also a 12V to 3.3V converter in there to power the esp32 and a few other things. Its not pretty, but I coated it all with some silicone conformal coating and threw it in a box.


    The screen, buttons, and GPS are all mounted on an aluminum piece that will mount under the dash. They got a double coat of the conformal coating.

    The buttons match the factory power and horn buttons on a 2011 Wakesetter. Originally, I used a color OLED display but I found it to be very difficult to read in the sunlight. I swapped it out for a nifty e-ink screen that is very readable. I'm super happy with the results and it lets me show some information which was helpful in debugging the gate software control.


    EDIT: I updated with a better photo of the control panel as installed. It didn't turn out as clean as I'd like, but I rushed to get it installed before a trip to Powell. You can see the original holes where my original OLED screen would have went before I had decided to go with the e-ink screen.


    On the control side a single button push on the side of the surfer will "ARM" the system. It uses the GPS to deploy the gates at 8.5 mph, and retract them at 13.5 mph. A button push on the other side will transfer the wave, and a button push on the arm'd side with disarm the system. When the gates are active the light ring will illuminate.

    I wanted to be able to experiment with different angles, so a long push on the buttons will cycle the gate through 1-5 extension levels. I found that about halfway extended was the sweet spot. I'm using lenco actuators, so the settings are just fractions of the full extension time.

    For the install, I used my plywood gates as a template and cut the corian pieces to match. Corian is pretty easy to work. I just cut and sanded everything.



    I ended up using bigger hinges that I used on my test rig, they are beefy and probably overkill, but I'm happy with how solid they feel.




    I used some aluminum plate and stainless steel washers on the inside to make sure the load was evenly distributed. Everything sealed with 3M 4200.


    The first water tests blew my 10A fuse and I had to go back to dock with a fully extended tab. After replacing it with a 15A, I was good to go. 

    Also, the GPS receivers on water require much better antennas. I don't have photos, but my GPS module came with a small antenna that worked fine on land, but would not lock on the lake. After I upgraded to an active antenna it worked perfectly.



    Overall, I've very pleased with the results, the wave is much longer, and much easier to transfer and setup. I do feel like it lost a little bit of push, but I now have a much longer surfable area. I went from full ballast on the surf side and center tanks, 88% wedge surfing at 10.0, to full left, right and center and full wede surfing at 10.6. 

    Let me know if you want any additional details.

    Next up, I need to upgrade the ballast system.



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    Nice project!  I'm an electronics dummy so I went straight for the wake logic system,  but I am so impressed with the DIY controllers you guys are coming up with.   I didn't know what a esp32 is... is that  essentially a different flavor of a Arduino / raspberry, etc.?    I love how you made the ring light up around the side that's on.    That's something I'd like to do to mine, since I have not found a good spot to put my wake logic LCD display, I want to make small LED indicator lights but will have to come up with a way since it uses a momentary (on) off (on) switch to control.  

    That e-paper display looks cool too!   Well done all around. 


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    You are spot on, the esp32 is like a fancy Arduino, but a lighter Raspberry PI. It falls in a similar category to both of those, but would be considered to be more similar to the Arduino class device. One thing that is a bit odd on the e-ink screen is that the parts of the display that are not changing slowly fade to a lighter shade of grey. They are still easily readable in the bright sunlight, but its the kind of thing that can trigger an OCD episode. :)


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    I don't have a parts list gathered together yet. The current design is sort of a rats nest of wires and parts. I plan to build a proper circuit board when I get time, if there is interest I may make it available at some point.

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    Hi joshl,

    great project! I‘m very impressed on how you guys „easy“ build this diy programming and stuff. I own also a 2011 wakesetter with self made surf gates from the pre owner but they will controlled by 2 switches under the dash, so it‘s hart too find the sweet spot every time.. 

    If you would like to share the part list, programming and wiring it would be great to build it für my vlx.

    Regards from Germany!


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    Great Job!

    You mentioned you can cycle through different extensions with a long push using timing of the extension. How do you stop at a certain extension? another push?

    Also, when you start the system, what level of extension do you have it set to?



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