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posts / Remotely operated vehicles 12/25/2021

"Remotely operated vehicle" could really mean any remote control car or airplane, or whatever. I guess this would include miniature trainsets and slotcars too. In this case though, mean submersibles. Essentially a drone what for catching video of underwater critters.

For a while now I've been interested in messing around with ROVs. I even came pretty close to snagging an OpenRov off ebay recently. There's been a lot of consumer-grade ROVs available for sale recently, so naturally my impulse is to ignore all of them and attempt to build something out of parts. Thankfully there's a community and some pretty good sources for parts and info to build this kind of thing.

BlueRobotics has been helpful in this regard, since their stuff is largely open source hardware. Most everything in their store includes a downloadable 3d model on the product page. It's refreshing seeing an org take this open source biz seriously, instead of just having a page on their site about how rad open source is, but then nothing else. So you can order parts or 3d print them, then mix and match with components from other vendors. It all goes together like legos, but with a little more creative control.

So now that there's context, I'll introduce my latest project:

The Ratbucket ROV

ROV, in building process

The enclosure is BlueRobotics, because you can't really 3d print that kind of stuff. The electronics are pretty standard Bluerov stuff. I'm cheaping out on thrusters at the moment because I'm new to all this stuff and expect to burn and/or break a few components. Probably best that they are cheaper ones, not anything nice. Getting Ardusub to work has been fun, and I think I'm at a point where I can just add components and test them as I go. It's definitely got a long way to go before it's seaworthy (or even bathtub worthy) but it's been fun putting this thing together. Outside of the software/electronics aspect, this has mostly been the assembly of 3d printed Bluerov components. But I've modeled up some super cool bracketry, too. Those t-slot extrusions are from my old Mendelmax printer. I figured it would make it easy to move ballast and thrusters to different positions, if necessary. I'll probably post the brackets on prusaprinters.org pretty soon.

Sketch of planned ROV layout As for overall design, the vector thrust configs of some of these ROVs with like 8 motors on them is really cool, but I'm just going to keep it simple.

I don't need to use this for actual science or boat hull inspections, I'm just trying to see what's at the bottom of some of the deep holes at lakes I swam in as a kid. I already know the answer is probably "mud, rocks, sticks, and a little bit of garbage", but it can't hurt to make sure. Maybe I'll find the 1000lb man-eating catfish I coulda swore was down there.