A Compact Underwater Vehicle: The Nanoseeker

The Nanoseeker is a compact underwater vehicle in a torpedo-like form factor. [John] designed the Nanoseeker as completely enclosed vehicle: both the thruster and the control fins are all housed within the diameter of the tube. The thruster is ducted with vents on the sides and control fins integrated into the back of the duct assembly.

[John] designed a compact PCB to drive the vehicle, which includes an STM32F4 alongside several sensors. An MPU-9150 provides IMU functionality and two dual motor driver ICs from TI control the throttle and the control fins. [John] also added a Bluetooth radio for remote control functionality. For those who want a closer look, an image of the schematic is up on his blog.

The board is running MicroPython, which is a small Python implementation optimized for microcontrollers. Although [John]’s hardware platform looks great, he’s still getting started on his software. We look forward to seeing how his project develops, as his project is one of the smallest underwater vehicles we’ve seen.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

37 thoughts on “A Compact Underwater Vehicle: The Nanoseeker

  1. At best BT will only work for a few feet – radio waves of almost any type do not penetrate underwater very far, which is why most ROVs use a wire or fibre optic tether. There have been some recent developments in acoustic / light wireless data transmission but they are very experimental.

    1. I think sending data through sound is the best choice for underwater (other than tethered), since sound travels fast in water. Noise would be a problem, as well as operating a few simultaneously.

    2. Might I shine some light on this. There is quite a large portion of spectrum that penetrates water just fine, even for hundreds of miles (ELF, tis how subs communicate). There is even frequencies that can go farther, but no one has used it for anything yet. Bluetooth does not use those frequencies. It uses an unlicensed public spectrum that is unlicensed and public not because it was a nice thing to do, but because it is absorbed by water molecules and nobody figured a way to profit from it at the time. I am curious to see how much penetration it has (no pun intended). It probably is not more than one wavelength.

        1. To the best of my knowledge the russians have stopped using it too. I do believe indian navy uses it currently though. I wonder if you could use subwavelength antennas (metamaterial antennas) to get bidirectional communication going.

        2. US subs still use floating VLF long lines. When they put to sea you can see them coiled up on the stern of sub just behind the aft hatch. Supposedly there’s a third one in the sail but I’ve never been close enough to see it.

  2. Are the end pieces 3D printed? I’ve had some bad experiences expecting extrusion printed pieces to be water tight(they weren’t even submerged just in a very wet environment). I came up with a solution to sealing them perfectly. Plastidip. I don’t know how well it would work in this situation though.

    1. It doesn’t make a lot of difference. Rotation is sealed with either an o-ring (like I’m using here) or a more complex seal. Linear motion is typically handled with a seal, but in this case I’m just using a brass tube with a greased brass rod sliding in it.

    1. Bluetooth doesn’t work at all under water. As I’ve mentioned before, the bluetooth module is there so I can communicate with the vehicle while it is on the bench, without having to open it up. Things like pulling the log, pushing new scripts, starting a new mission, etc.

  3. Beautiful work. This has all kinds of application potential for everything from fish farms and large scale aquaponics, to point inspection on ship hulls, to point cloud data sampling in large bodies of water. The US Coast Guard Research and Development Center would probably snap this up in a heart beat once you get a third or fourth gen prototype up and running, hell maybe after this one. It’s perfect for ice operations where the current is mild enough. Oil companies would certainly use a larger version for checking their rigs and anchors.

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