February has been a busy month, while my busted wing (Rotator Cuff injury) has slowed access to the blog to talk about what we have been up to.
Our ROV construction has been going well, and we were able to test several different group’s underwater viewing camera housings at depth using a weighted line to hold the modules at depth for two hours. The most water-tight design used PVC tubing with a silicone caulking block around the penetration point to provide some strain relief for the A/V and Power Cable, backed by a potting epoxy seal simply poured to fill the bottom of the module after the silicone set up fully. After two hours at full extension of the 100′ cable (roughly 96 ft underwater, since the upper end was maintained out of the water), the module showed no water inside where the camera will be placed.
Our OpenROV Crowd-funding project remains incomplete, although several emails have encouraged us to keep up the ROV project plans for the Summer. We will see whether our $1000 goal is met in time. with one week to go!
Our 3DR RepRap 3D Printers are starting to form up, with the latest electronics arriving from EBay vendors. Rather than relying on more costly single-board systems like the RAMBO I have used in the past, our 3DRs are being built around the Arduino Mega + RAMPS 1.4 + Pololu drivers (x4) which I have been able to find for around $45-50 USD per set.
Our sensors for the Arduino workshops have started to arrive, and are being subjected to preliminary testing to reduce the chance of failure during the workshops themselves. Our primary testers are TAMU students willing to volunteer their time as we look towards the Summer, where I will be assisting in various camps and STEM-linked camps. The Texas A&M University AggieSTEM program wants me to prepare 3D Printer building camp lessons for teachers and students taking part in the summer STEM camps this year, so our work now will provide some good examples when we come to the camp sessions over the Summer.