Posts with «rov» label

Amateur Builds Super Deep Super Cheap Ocean Vehicle

During the summers [Doug] has been building a 75 foot sailing junk to be launched from America’s most inland port. When Oklahoma’s winter hits he heads indoors to work on an ROV that will prowl 3,000 feet below the surface. Originally building a piloted submarine, he grew bored and decided to use the sailboat as a carrier for his fleet of remote submersibles instead.

A consummate amateur, Doug is the first to admit how little he knows about anything and how much he enjoys the open source spirit: collaboration, cooperation and learning from others. Determination and hard work fills in everything in between.

Hackaday covered the beginnings of his ROV last winter. In the year since it has progressed from some sketches and a 10″ steel pipe turned into a pressure testing rig to a nearly-complete, 10 foot long,  custom-lathed 4″ aluminum torpedo laying on his shop table. In a bow-to-stern walk-through Doug shows how he is building science equipment for less than a penny on the dollar using largely off-the-shelf imaginatively-repurposed parts or things he could fabricate himself with only a lathe and a 3d printer.

Continue after the break for a breakdown of the tech used.

The body of the ROV alternates between wet (flooded) and dry sections to preserve balance. Surprisingly, the multitude of thrusters on-board are plain RC outrunners most of us would recognize from quadcopters – apparently with a little potting they are not overly harmed by immersion in salt water. Ditto for the LED banks which lack any heat-sinking, relying on exposure to near-freezing seawater for cooling. Dry sections are stuffed full of all manner of gear: a complement of HD IP cameras, RC LiPo (11.1v, 6Ah each) packs, motor ESCs, external & internal pressure sensors, humidity sensors, an inertial measurement unit and relay banks all controlled by an Arduino Mega with an ethernet shield.

The pride and joy of the electronics are an affordable pair of Lowrance sonars for ocean bed mapping, commonly used as fish-finders. He chose the model he did because the board can be collapsed smaller, making it easier to fit into a pressure vessel. Each sonar board is connected to a transducer, one side-scanning and one spotlight facing forward. These display up on the surface what the terrain looks like 150 feet away in the pitch black.

Unexposed wiring having to traverse a between dry sections is handled by brass hose barbs and sealed inside vinyl aquarium tubing. The pressure through the wet section crushes the tubing tight onto the wires. For exposed wiring, [Doug] has come up with own solution of centrifugally packing epoxy into plumbing fittings fitted with connection pins for a 2,600 PSI seal.

The ROV maintains a data connection to the surface with a simple, slightly-buoyant Cat-5e and polycord tether. 5000 feet of cord is too long of a run for household hardware so [Doug] has mounted ordinary Startech VDSL2 extenders which also reduce the wiring requirements down to a single twisted pair  (3000 feet yielded 46MBps and only 2ms lag). A bigger issue are the HD cams themselves which they found to be rather jello-like anywhere near HD performance.

When his carrier ship is finished [Doug] plans on sailing around the world, exploring the depths and doing meaningful science into retirement. He figures his $5,000 ROV will match ones sold for $1,200,000. For research projects that puts his open source ROV design in the realm of disposable relative to operations costs. For him it means he is able to own one at all.

All of [Doug]’s videos regarding both his sailing ship (with an ubiquitous $250 schoolbus diesel engine as a backup) and his ROV are superbly filmed, cut and edited. Camera angles change quickly enough to stave off boredom and show both scale and detail of the work. It is easy to spend hours watching how he overcomes each obstacle and budget hurdle.

Ever the collaborator, [Doug] is calling out for anyone who wants to stop by for a visit to work on the boat or to participate in the ROV build with advice. His videos regularly feature collaborators who travelled to help. If you feel you have something to contribute, he seems welcome for assistance.

Filed under: transportation hacks

ROVs and Long Boards at Maker Faire Trondheim

A group of electronics students from HiST brought two very different projects to the faire—an underwater ROV and a bunch of electric long boards.

Read more on MAKE

MAKE » Arduino 29 Aug 17:17

Water glider prototype

[Byrel Mitchell] wrote in to share some details on this water glider which he has been working on with his classmates at the Nonlinear Autonomous Systems lab of Michigan Technological University. As its name implies, it glides through the water rather than using propulsion systems typically found on underwater ROVs. The wings on either side of the body are fixed in place, converting changes in ballast to forward momentum.

The front of the glider is at the bottom right of the image above. Look closely and you’ll see a trio of syringes pointed toward the nose. These act as the ballast tanks. A gear motor moves a pinion connected to the syringe plungers, allowing the Arduino which drives the device to fill and empty the tanks with water. When full the nose sinks and the glider moves forward, when empty it rises to the surface which also results in forward movement.

After the break you can find two videos The first shows off the functionality and demonstrates the device in a swimming pool. The second covers the details of the control systems.

Filed under: robots hacks
Hack a Day 18 Aug 00:30

Sensor board for underwater ROV

Since I had bought the robotics club an I2C accelerometer and magnetometer, I decided to make a new PC board for them to mount the accelerometer, the magnetometer, and the pressure gauge on the same board.  I don’t have the SMD soldering skills to solder all the chips onto one board, and I already had breakout boards for the accelerometer and magnetometer from Sparkfun, so I decided just to put connectors for those breakout boards onto the back of the pressure sensor board.  (The back, because the pressure sensor on the front has to be stuck through a hole in the dry box and glued in place.

The new boards are tiny (1.05″ × 1.425″), so I decided to try BatchPCB (which has pricing by the square inch) rather than (which has fixed pricing per board, up to a fairly large size).  The price from BatchPCB was $10 per order plus $2.50/square inch plus $0.90 for shipping, so ordering 3 copies of the board (though I only needed one), cost me $22.12, substantially less than a single board from, which is $33 plus $17.30 shipping and handling per board (plus an extra $50 if your board has multiple boards on it).  The 4pcb price is lower if your board is bigger than about 15.76 square inches, so even my HexMotor boards (at 12.44 square inches) would be cheaper from BatchPCB.  If you get multiple boards from on a single panel and cut them apart yourself, the breakeven point is about 35.76 square inches for a single design (so three HexMotor boards from a single panel is cheaper than from BatchPCB). For multiple designs on a single panel, the deal is better: for 3 different designs, a total of 27.04 square inches would make the cheaper way to go.

If you want a copy of the board, you can order it from BatchPCB, or pick up the Eagle files from my web site and order copies from elsewhere.  I’ve put the HexMotor Eagle files on line also, but not put them on the BatchPCB site.  I should probably upload them there sometime.

Bottom line: BatchPCB is better for small numbers of tiny boards, but is better for larger boards and multiple designs.

The BatchPCB orders came back quite quickly (12 days from order to delivery by mail), though I had been worried because their design-rule check, which they say takes minutes had taken about 8 hours.  The problem was that each check takes a few minutes, but they had hundreds in the queue over the weekend, and it took a full day to clear the queue.

I had less trouble soldering the pressure gauge this time (this was my second attempt at soldering surface mount devices).  You can see in the pictures above that the results are much cleaner than in my first attempt.

The robotics club has tested the pressure sensor on the new board (using their own code on the Arduino) and it seems to work ok,  have drilled the hole in the dry box for the port, and glued the sensor board in place using superglue.  It seems to be waterproof (at least down to 1 foot—we’ve not tested in deep water yet).

Related articles

Tagged: accelerometer, Arduino, BatchPCB, magnetometer, pressure sensor, Printed circuit board, ROV, SparkFun Electronics

Underwater ROV again this year

Last year I blogged about MATE ‘s Monterey Bay Regional underwater ROV competition in Underwater ROV contest.  I coached a robotics club at my son’s high school, and they built a small vehicle which they barely got into the water the day before the contest, because we started so late.

Although my son is being home-schooled this year, we have kept the team going, losing one member and picking up another (so we still have only 3).  The robotics club is no longer affiliated with a school, but that makes no difference, as all the school provided us was an inconvenient time to meet (lunch on Tuesdays) and 15 minutes in the pool once.  We meet for 3 hours on Sundays at my house, which gives them enough time to get something done.

I’m still paying the expenses out of my own pocket, and we now have the construction of the vehicle taking up about a third of our living room (the benchtop drill press is the first thing you see on entering the house, unless it is on the floor to make room on the robotics table for the scroll saw).

The students have made considerable progress since last year, having replaced the high-resistance tether and switch box with a low-resistance power wire and a dry box that will house an Arduino microprocessor with H-bridge chips.  They’ve made the tether with a waterproof disconnect and have tested everything for water tightness (though only at bathtub depth, not 10 feet deep).  I think that they’ll have the basic vehicle and electronics finished by the end of January, leaving some time for designing and building mission-specific tools, programming the Arduino and the laptop GUI, and learning to pilot the vehicle.  Now we just have to find a pool to practice in.

The club members have gotten much more independent this year, so my coaching involves my making some suggestions about what they should work on at the beginning of the meeting, checking to see how they are doing about once an hour, and having a discussion with them about what they’ll need to design or build next over snacks near the end of the meeting.  I also try to get them to give me specific parts to buy, but I usually end up having to find and select parts for them.  If the group were bigger (and my wallet more able to tolerate mistakes), I could have the students doing more of the purchasing.

The challenges for this year have been published, and they are in the usual verbose style.  I may have a hard time getting all the students to read the specs carefully, since the specs go on and on with irrelevant “color” hiding the nuggets of critical information.  I’m not looking forward to making the items needed for practicing the missions this year, since they are described in the same wordy way as last year (which I found difficult to follow in several places), and they haven’t even released photos or drawings of what the objects are supposed to look like.  Trying to re-create the objects from the turgid assembly directions without pictures is going to be a nightmare.

The contest does not have any tasks this year that need a depth gauge (but I bought a pressure sensor, so the students will measure depth!), but they will need to determine compass headings, so we’re trying to decide whether to get a cheap compass and put it in the camera view, or add an electronic compass module to the electronics in the dry box.  An electronic compass is definitely cooler, but we may be running out of pins on the Arduino.

Related Articles

Tagged: Arduino, contests, electronic compass, H-bridge, remotely operated underwater vehicle, robotics, ROV