Dec 14, 2015 | By Alec

3D printing technology has been steadily reaching more and more aspects of everyday life, but an intriguing Kickstarter campaign by New England-based Magurobotics has just added a whole new field: fishing. With their crowdfunding campaign, they are seeking to bring a clever fishing tool called Zombait to life, a small robotic device that can reanimate dead bait used for catching predatory fish.

Don’t worry, the guys from Magurobotics haven’t discovered the secret to zombies or anything. Instead, they are simply trying to tackle a practical and expensive problem typically associated with catching big fish for commercial ends, such as Striper, Tuna, Wahoo, King Mackerel, Mahi, Marlin, Swordfish, Pike and Sturgeon. Any fisherman will tell you that live bait works best, but it’s also expensive. ‘To the target fish, it looks right, it smells right, it moves right, and heck it even tastes right. Nothing beats the real thing. But it’s also a huge pain. You’re out there to catch The Big One, and you spend the morning searching for bait schools, untangling tackle, and burning daylight. And for all the cost and space on the boat your livewell eats up, you usually end up without a single kicking fish before the day is done,’ the guys behind Zombait explain. ‘Not to mention, if you’re fishing from shore, live bait fish are pretty much not an option.’

The alternative is dead bait, which is cheap and can even be bought frozen. "But they’re also… well, dead. Motion is a key attractor for predatory fish, which sense vibration through the water as well as the signature flash of reflected light given off from their favorite swimming prey. Dead bait are simpler to use, but not nearly as effective as a living, swimming bait," they explain. Team member Rink Varian knows this problem in detail; being a commercial fisher with 35 years of experience, he and Matthew Borowski came up with an intriguing idea while discussing the problem over a meal in 2013. Borowski is an electrical engineer, and the two quickly brought in mechanical engineer Jessy Cusack and systems architect Chris Hamman.

Together, they set out to build an intriguing device: a small robotic tool that could recreate the movement of a fish and be inserted into dead bait fish easily and repeatedly. "Armed with a 3D printer and some custom electronics, we have revised our design to improve the durability, run time, power, motion profile, size, and ease of use over 6 versions of Zombait. Hundreds of prototypes have been built, using 3D printing, bench-top injection molding, hand soldering, and custom waterproofing," they explain.

The result is Zombait, a clever robotic fishing device that is inserted into the mouth of most common bait species, mimics movement, and can be retrieved once you haul in your line. "Zombait is incredibly easy to use. It allows you to fish your choice of bait, the way you want, and stick to your proven techniques.  Use the bait you like best, rig it the way you always do (everyone has their top secret tricks to make dead fish look just right!), insert the Zombait device right through the mouth of the fish, and you’re ready to go," its makers say. "And, unlike live fish, it won’t get tired over time or die unexpectedly.  More importantly, it won’t try and escape from the trophy fish you’re after!"

It’s an interesting little tool that could benefit both hobby and professional fishermen everywhere. While you do need to make a small investment, it looks to be a typical money saving option in the long run. And, through Kickstarter, you can get a pretty good deal: An early bird pledge of $54 is enough to get a full Zombait package, provided that the campaign is successful. For more information and for pledging options, check out their crowdfunding campaign here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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