DIY Submersible Aims for Low Cost, Ease of Operation

If you’re like us, a body of water is a source of wonder and awe. The wonder comes from imagining what lies hidden below the surface, and the awe is from the fear of trying to find out and becoming one of those submerged objects on a permanent basis. So if you want to explore the depths in relative comfort and safety, a DIY remotely operated underwater vehicle might be the thing you need to build.

Most ROV builds these days seem to follow more or less similar designs, which is probably because they all share project goals similar to those of [dcolemans]: build something to take a look around under the water, make it easy to operate, and don’t spend a ton of money. To achieve that, he used 1/2″ PVC pipe and fittings to build the frame and painted it yellow for visibility. A dry tube for the electronics was fashioned from 4″ ABS pipe. The positive buoyancy provided by the dry tube is almost canceled out by the water flooding the frame through weep holes and the lead shot ballast stored in the landing skids. Propulsion is provided by bilge pump cartridges with 3D-printed ducted propellers. A nice touch is a separate topside control box with a screen for the ROV’s camera that talks to a regular RC controller, along with simplified controls and automatic station keeping. Check out the recent swimming pool test in the video below.

There’s a lot going on under the sea, and plenty of ways to explore it. You could deploy sensors shaped like clams, zap underwater lice with lasers, or even glide your way to a Hackaday Prize.

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Submersible Robots Hunt Lice With Lasers

De-lousing is a trying agricultural process. It becomes a major problem in pens which contain the hundreds of thousands of salmon farmed by Norwegians — the world’s largest salmon exporter — an environment which allows the parasite to flourish. To tackle the problem, the Stingray, developed by [Stingray Marine Solutions],  is an autonomous drone capable of destroying the lice with a laser in the order of tens of thousands per day.

Introduced in Norway back in 2014 — and some areas in Scotland in 2016 — the Stingray floats in the salmon pen, alert and waiting. If the lice-recognition software (never thought you’d hear that term, huh?) detects a parasite for more than two frames in the video feed, it immediately annihilates it with a 530 nanometre-wide, 100 millisecond laser pulse from up to two metres away. Don’t worry — the salmon’s scales are reflective enough to leave it unharmed, while the pest is fried to a crisp.  In action, it’s reminiscent of a point-defense laser on a spaceship.

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PVC Submersible ROV

[mark.brubaker.1] and his crew decided to make a submersible for a school project using PVC pipes as a frame. It has two motors on the back to provide forward thrust and steering as well as a horizontal mounted motor in the middle of the PVC chassis to provide up and down thrust. They used regular motors which they waterproofed by inserting them inside a case full of plumbers wax. We’re not sure how long this will hold at the bottom of the ocean, but it works fine for a school project in the pool. Here’s the instructions on how to make one.

The build is completely analog, the controller is a board with three switches which individually control the different motors. So if you want to turn left, you fired up the right motor. For right you do the opposite and fire up the left motor. Up and down, well, you get the picture. If you have a swimming pool, lake or some water body nearby and you’re looking for a weekend project with your kids, this is a great tip. It’s not an Arduino controlled robot fish, but it’s a first step in that direction; you can later on use the frame to improve on the design and add some electronics.

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The Arduino Sleeps with the Fishes

[Eric Dirgahayu] wanted to explore underwater with some sensors and cameras. First, he needed a platform to carry them. That led to his Arduino-controlled swimming fish. The fish is made from PVC and some waterproof servos. From the video (see below) it isn’t clear how much control the fish has, but it does swim with an undulating motion like a real fish.

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Maglev, Submersibles, and More at Maker Faire Detroit

This past weekend the Maker Faire returned to the motor city. While it seemed a bit smaller than previous years, the event still brought in a ton of awesome makers from the metro Detroit area and beyond.

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Although we don’t feature too many woodworking projects, there were quite a few woodworkers at the Faire with projects ranging from custom longboards pressed with a home built iron mold to DIY kayaks with elaborate wooden skeletons built by a local group of Michigan kayak builders. The kayaks were quite impressive: hand sewn nylon panels are wrapped around custom frames made from steamed white oak. It’s great to speak with the makers about the specialized skills needed for kayak building.

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Three-Phase Submersible Thruster is Open Source and Awesome

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Have you ever considered building some kind of underwater vehicle? It’s rather ambitious but [Dane] of Transistor-Man has designed and built a working submersible 3-phase electric thruster — and he’s released the plans online for all to share!

He decided to make this for his 3D printed canoe (another awesome project) which is possible due to his massive SCARA robot 3D printer. The thruster makes use of readily available off the shelf components, but with 3D printed cones for decreased water resistance and other manufactured parts. The housing is water-jet cut, and the poly-carbonate tube had grooves for seals made using a lathe.  The amount of detail in his build logs is incredible — he’s fully modeled all parts in what looks like SolidWorks and uploaded detailed images and designs of all the parts.

The trickiest part of the build was making it water-tight. His first test was to submerge it in a water bath for 8 minutes, and once that was proven, he filled the inside with 5W-20 oil to make sure it wouldn’t leak the other way as well. One of his project goals is for this thruster to work 1 meter underwater without losing more than 10ml of the coolant (oil) per hour.

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DIY ROV explores the watery depths

This rig looks so good it’s hard to believe this is the first ROV that [DZL] has ever built. It houses an HD camera which feeds the display at the operator’s station. You can see the controller to the left of that screen which uses a joystick and buttons to pilot the underwater vessel.

In order to simplify construction, [DZL] decided not to use propellers. The problem with that technique is that you need to have bearings that will allow the propeller shafts to turn without letting water in. Propulsion is instead provided by a group of small water pumps whose intake is on one end and outflow is on the other. These are mounted at various places on the body and each have one power cable that connects to the control circuitry in the main housing. The passage of cables through the enclosure is another possible leak point, but [DZL] found some off the shelf bushings that ended up making it pretty easy.

The link at the top is a round-up of all the different project posts. For us, the most interesting Flickr set is the one showing how the enclosure is put together. There is also a pretty neat dive video after the break that shows the craft being tested underwater.

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