This blog will allow you to follow my creative journey

  • Kim Burke

28/ CAD Modelling

Updated: May 11

It has taken some time, but the CAD model has made a leap in progress over the past week.

My aim for the CAD model was to illustrate the final model of the buoy. I wanted the CAD model to be descriptive of its internal components, and by doing so I would be able to illustrate the function of the buoy well. This could be a good tool for VIVA presentations but also a good marketing tool to use to clearly describe the buoys function.


As I was not physically modelling as much anymore due to lack of facilities and deciding too use my time more efficiently, I used my sketchbook heavily to plan and sketch out sizes, alignments and ideas in the CAD modellinig process! This worked well for me and I was able to make small prototypes and take inspiration from parts around the house of the garage for inspiration for fittings etc. This element was really helpful and allowed me to critically reflect how the buoy would function and alter parts where necessary. It largely helped me to be organised and keep track of sizing for all of the models parts.

Below is the current model of 'SEE BUOY'... I will release my next blog post soon on branding, logo and how I came to this name!


The outer appearance of See Buoy is not too dissimilar to what is on the current market. There is of course a very good reason for that. One being that the buoys identity should not be highlighted through a flashy design to encourage or tempt theft. Through my research I already stablished that 'turf war' and vandalism of equipment can occur between fishermen, so I would not want to advertise a tech filled buoy. The second reason for the buoy being visually keeping with what is on the market is simply that it is in keeping with what fishermen are used to! Through my research I also had re-occurring statements from individuals stating that fishermen are set in their ways and don't like change. By keeping the buoy visually similar, I hope to get around this barrier.


The light is the main output of the buoy, so this element took a lot of consideration. Including what type of light I was using, placement of the light, colour of the light and of course the lighting sequence. The lighting sequence was particularly important to avoid interference with existing navigation at sea. To generate the best possible outcome I spoke with a Angus Young, a Navigation officer from the Royal Navy. (More detail on my interview with Angus can be seen in previous blog posts). Concluding that a cold white, flashing high intensity light was best for visibility and would avoid any clash with current lighting at sea. I chose to use a ring and a strip of High Intensity (HI) LED's. Having both would ensure that I had 360 degree light and also lighting from above, to allow ships sitting higher in the water to see the light just as clear. This light would feature in the top of the buoy and elevated further out of the water by the buoys unique shape.

Sketches can be seen below that demonstrates my development and thinking behind the feature. It features a lot of consideration for the attachment of the light holder onto the top of the buoy. I concluded that multi-point fittings and screws would be sufficient and allow the part to be adaptable to take apart if necessary for possible maintenance.

This was my first render of the buoy. The lighting compartment at the top wasn't in keeping with the design and the internal components were extremely visible, using transparent red Acrylic as a material. Altering the opacity of the material, so that light would still shine through the buoy was a solution around this, whilst still having a definition in appearance from the main body of the buoy.

*At this point in time I did not have the LED strip attached around the light holder due to complications, however the HI LED ring is in place*

Note that the model of the buoy here features a different attachment, using screws. This was the first model of the buoy which later was altered. Read on to see what changed.


The attachment of the two halves of the buoy (top and bottom) was something I had been brainstorming for some time. Upon the first CAD model iteration, I developed an attachment using screws and bolts around the rim of the buoy. However this would not wear well and rust/carode at sea, even if it stainless steal due to salt water and abrasion. Ideally my aim was for a method of attachment that was flush, minimal, water tight and something that wouldn't wear!

First model:

Upon reflection I developed a clip system which I had previously considered which would ensure the two halves of the buoy were secure.

This meant that the buy could be taken apart if necessary with a firm push on either side. (To highlight the method of this movement, I added grip above the push points of the buoy.) With a combination of a rubber seal, connecting when two halves meet, the buoy is guaranteed to reman water tight and the internal electrics are protected.


This is the most important component behind the power for the buoy. This part took a lot of adaptations and design consideration to make sure it worked to its best ability and allowed the internal magnet to move freely with the movement of the waves. A model of this component can be seen below.

My aim for the CAD model of this part was to capture the physical model as best as possible. At this stage of modelling I hadn't considered the attachment and fitment into the bouy, other than the legs to help the part stand on the inner base of the buoy.

Through sketching I designed a slot cut into the internal side of the buoy, that was a sleek solution to allow the generator to sit tightly inside the buoy. The addition of pins to attach the two halves of the generator rings showed below in the sketch, ensure that the two rings are tightly attached together but adaptable to take apart if necessary. (The copper wire wrapped around the exterior of the ring would of-course ensure this also, but I wanted to make sure that it was secure in its choppy environment!)

See fitting below:


The generator inside the buoy will be running constantly, with the movement of the wave to power the light. The light will also be running constantly too.

NOTE: I am currently thinking of method for the fishermen to put the light off if the buoy is not in use or temporarily comes out of the water. This will ensure that power isn't wasted and the buoy isn't necessarily lit.

The power generated from the generator will need to be stored in a battery. This will ensure that the light is always lit and can receive power from the battery source, despite if the sea is calmer that day. There will of course be peak times for the generator to develop more power, ie. if the sea is has more movement due to wind, tide or swell.

The battery I have chose to use in the buoy is a Piezoelectric Energy Harvester, which will feature in the base of the buoy in a holder to ensure it is safe and secure.

With the CAD model now complete, I am working on how I am going to present the model and what I want to communicate through doing so.

My aim for the CAD model is for it to:

- Reflect the appearance of the final product and be the feature of my Hero Image. Currently I plan for this to be an image of the buoy sitting in the water. Below is image I have selected and have gained appropriate image rights for.

- Make an exploded view of the model, to explain and illustrate the components inside the buoy. This board will heavily focus on the technology and inner workings of the buoy. I also plan to make a Digital orthographic drawing of the buoy for added detail and explanation.

- 'How it works' board. This board will be an environmental shot of the buoy in action, explaining how the buoy works and how it prevents fishing equipment from getting damaged. I am deciding to create this board for a more informal and less detailed explanation of the buoy. This will be great on the website and directed towards the products target market. See some wireframe sketches of the website below also:

I have taken some inspiration from Polyform Buoys website, largely for their wording and style of description. But also for their layout, however I don't intend for the boards to be as full and cluttered.

Next steps?

Complete the exploded view and orthographic sketch of the CAD model in preparation for the boards. I also aim to complete renderings of key parts, to show things in detail, such as the clips and generator etc.

Besides this, I am currently working on the A5 60-100 page booklet we have to submit, alongside the website daily.

Storyboarding has been put aside for just until I complete these necessary tasks.


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