OpenROV (via OpenROV)
Exploring the sea or other bodies of water is usually limited to either SCUBA diving, piloting a small sub or using ROV’s. All three can be costly and limited for the average explorer; however a team of engineers has designed an open-source project that will change all that with submersible they call ‘OpenROV’. Led by NASA engineer Eric Stackpole, the team developed the mini-sub for amateurs and teachers who have an interest in underwater exploration without being complicated or the most expensive part of one's gear.
The latest iteration of OpenROV was designed using laser-cut acrylic for the ROV’s chassis, which houses a BeagleBone (modified BeagleBoard) single-board computer that’s equipped with an Arduino and features an ARM-Cortex A8 processor and multiple IO ports which is used to control the sub’s systems. Propulsion of the OpenROV consists of three brushless motors that are commonly found on RC planes (two for horizontal thrust/one for vertical) and is powered by 8 on-board C batteries that provide 1.5 hours of operation. The sub is equipped with some pretty cheap technology including a HD forward-facing USB webcam and two 87lm LED light arrays mounted on a tiltable platform for navigating in dark areas.
OpenROV is tethered to a laptop with 100ft of ‘twisted’ 10 MB ethernet cable, which is used to relay video and control the submersible. Control of the sub is done from a laptop running software that was developed using OBCROV-1 (on-board controller running on Arduino) and TSCROV-1 (top-side controller that uses Processing programming language) which runs through a web-browser. The total weight of the sub is 5.5Lbs and supposedly has neutral buoyancy but can be augmented with weights for the user’s desired depth (up to 100ft). The sub is still a work in progress, but it should be available later this summer (check Kickstarter) and cost around $750 US which is not to bad considering the ROV (Alvin) used in the first Titanic exploration cost $55,000 a day to use!