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Open ROV – The $750 Open Source Mini Submarine

It could change the future of ocean exploration.

For now, it is exploring caves because it can only go down 100 meters. But it holds promise because it is cheap, links to a laptop, and is available to a large number of researchers for experimentation.

Indeed, the OpenROV team hopes to start taking orders for OpenROV kits on the crowd sourced project site, Kickstarter. Going for $750, the kits include laser cut plastic parts and all the electronics necessary to build an OpenROV. (Users will have to bring their own laptops to view the onboard video feed and control the machine. They’ll also have to supply their own C-cell batteries which power the sub.) The subs are expected to be available by the end of summer.

A professional grade commercial ROV called the Videoray Scout, which is rated to 76 meters costs just under $10,000.

The OpenROV uses common parts to cut the cost. The depth sensor they plan to use is commonly found in a scuba diver’s computer. High definition video camera is scavenged from a cheap Web-camera that people use to video chat. The most expensive part inside is the computer, a little Linux computer called a BeagleBone that costs $89. Still, the team thinks they can get costs down by buying parts in bulk.

The main body is a plastic tube where the computer, the camera, and LEDs are protected from the elements by the use of double rubber o-rings seated with silicone grease. A small hole sealed with epoxy allows power cables to pass through the end caps, and to the horizontal and vertical thrusters, as well as the battery packs. Controls and video are relayed using a pair of twisted copper wires like the kind used in old landline phones. The wires spool out like a fishing reel so the robot will eventually be able to reach 100 meters under water.

Instead of being built in a factory, OpenROV’s chassis is constructed using laser cutter machines that Mr. Stackpole pays to use at San Francisco’s TechShop, a community tool-share and clubhouse for tech wizards and designers in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco.

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3 responses to “Open ROV – The $750 Open Source Mini Submarine

  1. Jean Claude June 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Hi When will the rov be on the market? At what price? Will the kit contain all the neccessary parts to build the completed rov?

  2. eric June 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I think they’re going to sell both assembled and DIY kits. I’m not sure what the exact price will be.

    You can put your email into their site and they’ll update you when they’re releasing it:

    http://openrov.com/page/openrov-kits

  3. jean-claude June 18, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Hi When will the rov be on the market? At what price? Will the kit contain all the neccessary parts to build the completed rov?

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