2022 FPV Contest: Turbo Super Submarine

The projects featured on these pages frequently rule the air, the ground, the rails, and even the waves, but very rarely do they rule the deep. Building a submarine is hard, and thus it’s a challenge not taken on by all but the most courageous of builders. This hasn’t discouraged [Timo] though, who has embarked on the construction of what is shaping up to be a very nice underwater ROV build.

The design is straightforward enough, with a PVC tubing frame carrying thrusters for maneuvering, and a central tubular compartment for the electronics and a camera. Control and power comes via a wired connection, and there is a companion controller holding a Pi Pico interfaced to a PlayStation controller.

So far the craft is a work in progress, and he’s engaged in a battle with water pressure to keep in dry inside. The fittings are all 3D printed, and this means a constant battle with warped prints and collapsing infill. He’s not given up though, and is instead recovering enthusiasm by working on the shore-side controller.

We look forward to seeing this project completed, meanwhile if you’re thirsty for more underwater projects take a look at the glider which won the 2017 Hackaday Prize.

3D Printed ROV Is The Result Of Many Lessons Learned

Building an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is always a challenge, and making it waterproof is often a major hurdle. [Filip Buława] and [Piotr Domanowski] have spent four years and 14 prototypes iterating to create the CPS 5, a 3D printed ROV that can potentially reach a depth of 85 m.

FDM 3D prints are notoriously difficult to waterproof, thanks to all the microscopic holes between the layers. There are ways to mitigate this, but they all have limits. Instead of trying to make the printed exterior of the CPS 5 waterproof, the electronics and camera are housed in a pair of sealed acrylic tubes. The end caps are still 3D printed, but are effectively just thin-walled containers filled with epoxy resin. Passages for wiring are also sealed with epoxy, but [Filip] and [Piotr] learned the hard way that insulated wire can also act as a tube for water to ingress. They solved the problem by adding an open solder joint for each wire in the epoxy-filled passages.

For propulsion, attitude, and depth control, the CPS 5 has five brushless drone motors with 3D printed propellers, which are inherently unaffected by water as long as you seal the connectors. The control electronics consist of a PixHawk flight controller and a Raspberry Pi 4 for handling communication and the video stream to a laptop. An IMU and water pressure sensor also enable auto-leveling and depth hold underwater. Like most ROVs, it uses a tether for communication, which in this case is an Ethernet cable with waterproof connectors.

Acrylic tubing is a popular electronics container for ROVs, as we’ve seen with an RC Subnautica sub, LEGO submarine, and the Hackaday Prize-winning Underwater Glider.

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We All Live In A PVC Submarine

We doubt you could really live in [Pena’s] PVC submarine, but now the song’s stuck in our head anyway. Although the post is in Portuguese, you can get a pretty good idea of how it works, and translation software is better than ever. Transcending the language barrier, there are videos of just about every step of the construction. We didn’t, however, find a video of the vehicle in the water.

The plumber’s delight has modified motors for thrusters, and a camera as well. Epoxy potting keeps things waterproof. We’ve seen candle wax used for the same purpose in other builds.

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PVC ROV is a study in MPV

Low Buck PVC ROV IS Definitely A MVP

Do you have a hundred bucks and some time to kill? [Peter Sripol] invites you to come along with him and build a remotely operated submarine with only the most basic, easily accessible parts, as you can see in the video below the break.

Using nothing more than PVC pipe, an Ethernet cable, and a very basic electrical system, [Peter] has built a real MVP of a submarine. No, not Most Valuable Player; Minimum Viable Product. You see, there’s not a microcontroller, motor controller, sensor, or MOSFET to be found except for that which might reside inside the knock-off GoPro style camera which is encased in a candle wax sealed enclosure.

Instead, simple brushed motors live right out in the open water. Single pole double throw switches are connected to 100 feet of Ethernet cable and control the relays powering the motors. The camera signal is brought back to the controller through the same cable. Simple is the key to the build, and we have to admit that for all of its Minimum Viability, the little ROV has a lot going for it. [Peter] even manages to use the little craft to find and make possible the retrieval of a crustacean encrusted shopping cart from a saltwater canal. Not bad, little rover, not bad.

Also noteworthy is that the video below has its own PVC ROV Sea Shanty, which is something you just don’t hear every day.

Underwater ROV builds are the sort of thing almost every hacker thinks about doing at least once, and some hackers even include Lego, magnets, and balloons in their builds! Continue reading “Low Buck PVC ROV IS Definitely A MVP”

Underwater Drone Faces Trial By Water

Underwater Remote Operated Vehicles, or ROVs as they’re typically known, generally operate by tether. This is due to the poor propagation of radio waves underwater. [Simon] wanted to build such a drone, but elected to go for an alternative design with less strings attached, so to speak. Thus far, there have been challenges along the way. (Video, embedded below.)

The underwater drone uses a 3D printed chassis, replete with googly eyes that go a long way to anthropomorphizing the build. Four motors are used for control, with two for thrust in the horizontal plane and two mounted in the vertical plane for attitude control. This allows the drone to be set up at neutral buoyancy, and moved through the water column with thrust rather than complicated ballast mechanisms. The build aims to eschew tethers, instead using a shorter cable to link to a floating unit which uses radio to communicate with the operator on the shore.

The major struggle facing the build has been sealing the chassis against water ingress. This is where the layered nature of 3D printing is a drawback. Even with several treatments of paint and sealant, [Simon] has been unable to stop water getting inside the drone. Further problems concern the excess amount of ballast required to counteract the drone’s natural buoyancy due to displacement.

Regardless of the struggles, we look forward to seeing the next revision rectify some of the shortcomings of the current build. We’re sure [Simon’s] experience building an electric surfboard will come in handy. Video after the break.

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Aruna: An Open Source ROV For Affordable Research

Underwater exploration and research can be exceedingly dangerous, which is why remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are so commonly used. Operators can remotely command these small submersibles to capture images or collect samples at depths which would otherwise be unreachable. Unfortunately, such technology comes at a considerable price.

Believing that the high cost of commercial ROVs is a hindrance to aquatic conservation efforts, [Noeël Moeskops] has been developing an open source modular ROV he calls Aruna. Constructed largely from off-the-shelf components and 3D-printed parts, the Aruna promises to be far more affordable than anything currently on the market. Hopefully cheap enough to allow local governments and even citizens to conduct their own underwater research and observations.

More than just the ROV itself, Aruna represents an entire system for developing modular underwater vehicles. Whether you decide to build the boilerplate ROV documented and tested by [Noeël], or implement individual components into your own design, the project is a valuable source of hardware and software information for anyone interested in DIY underwater robotics.

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Scratch Built Subnautica Sub Explores The Pool

In Subnautica, players explore an alien underwater landscape with the help of a number of futuristic tools and vehicles. [Robert Cook] found himself particularly enamored with the large submarine you unlock towards the later parts of the game, so much so that he decided to build his own real-life version.

Even though the RC version of the Cyclops [Robert] has designed is only big enough to explore swimming pool sized alien landscapes, it’s by no means a simple build. In fact, the sub’s internal watertight compartment holds an impressive array of electronics and systems that are arguably overkill for what’s essentially a toy. Not that we’re complaining, of course.

Beyond the electronics and a few key components, almost every part of the RC Cyclops has been 3D printed. From the bulkheads that cap off the internal watertight acrylic tube to the hull itself, there’s a lot of plastic aboard this ship. Which might explain why it takes nearly two kilograms of lead weight to get the sub close to neutral buoyancy. From there, a clever ballast tank arrangement made from a syringe and peristaltic pump allow the vehicle to dive and surface on command.

[Robert] is in the process of releasing the STL files for all the submarine’s 3D printed components, and has done an excellent job of documenting the roughly four months he’s spent working on the project in a series of videos on his YouTube channel. The videos contain a wealth of fascinating tips and tricks regarding DIY submersible vehicles, such as selecting the proper radio frequencies for maximum penetration through water and counteracting the permeability of 3D printed parts with a generous coating of epoxy.

Modern RC hardware makes it easier than ever to cobble together a “submarine”, but there’s still something to be said for a project that takes the long way around and actually implements features like a functioning ballast system.

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