Hi All,

I am sure that many of you have heard of the OpenROV Project which involves building your own ROV from a kit. I am an experienced model builder with plenty of experience and a reasonably equipped workshop, but I was a little taken aback at the complexity of assembling the OpenROV from their kit of parts. It seemed to me to be a high school to college level project requiring a small team of experienced modelers to successfully put the OpenROV together though I could be wrong.

It appeared to me that there were a number of critical assembly requirements that had to be performed spot on as there was no going back to realign or reseal once the assembly was completed. Therefore I have been looking around to see if there might be an easier way to design and build a ROV similar to the OpenROV without having to perform some of the critical assemblies required to complete the OpenROV.

One area of the OpenROV design that I took exception to was the thrusters. They were not going to last very long when immersed in seawater due to the exposed bearings and stator/armature. To me this was a kind of deal breaker as to the questionable lifespan of these thrusters. I know that commercial thrusters are not cheap (think Seabotics or CrustCrawler) and the OpenROV project was just trying to overcome the high price of commercial thrusters with their homebrew design. Still the unknown lifespan of the OpenROV design did not leave me with a warm feeling to say the least.

Then came along Blue Robotics and their T100 Thruster KickStarter Project Link. Their design approach looks good and they have actually tested and characterized prototypes of the thrusters they will deliver to the pledgers. With the addition of the in-thruster water cooled ESC this design becomes very attractive in that it reduces the number of wire penetrations in the Water Tight Compartment (WTC).

Great! Now we have a source of reasonably priced thrusters so what is next? Well, that is where you, the ArduBoat members, come in.

Let's start thinking about the WTC, navigation controller, communication, power, ballast, buoyancy, etc. and attempt to come up with a reasonably priced ROV that the average ArduBoat member might want to consider building.



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Hi Tom / Rusty,


I guess you are talking tether strain relief, you could also use a prussick knot setup with a small dia dyneema rope & bridle to the frame.





I'm with Kevin, I highly recommend a disconnect fitting at both ends of your tether.  If you don't you'll wish you had.  My Deep Trekker didn't have one and it was a PITA to have to spin the ROV around to take out all the twists at the end of every dive.

Rusty's also correct.  You will want to make sure that the strain on the tether goes directly to the ROV's frame.  Lots of ways to do it, take a look at some of the commercial ROV's to get ideas.

Tom / Rusty, On a point that bigkahuna mentions one item that would be good on any osd or gui would be a turns counter, so the operator knows how many clockwise or anti-clockwise turns have been carried out so that they can undo the turns before they recover and real back in the tether, this should stop the twisting that Bigkahuna mentions he had to do with his deep Trekker.

Regards John


That's a great idea and I'm sure we can integrate that into the software.


A turns counter is a useful addition, but on a battery powered micro ROV where your source of power is limited I think a disconnect is still the better way to handle this...  although an even better solution would be to have both.  :)

Hi All,

Linus Penzlien and I have been busy porting the ArduSub firmware over to the BBBMINI and have been achieving a few successes so far.

We are presently using the latest version of Debian (2016-02-16) recommend by Mirko on the BBBMINI, QGC version 2.9.4 for the Topside Control, and the latest daily build of ArduSub for the ROV-side Control.

We have calibrated the BBBMINI's accelerometers and compass and are presently in the process of calibrating the radio using a gamepad input (Xbox Controller). We would have been much farther along by now, but we had a problem where the accelerometers on the BBBMINI were not calibrating according to QGC even though there were accelerometer offsets and calibration values in the QGC parameter list. The reason for the calibration failure was due to the fact that QGC had two INS units enabled while my BBBMINI presently only has one INS (MPU-9250). Once that error was corrected QGC indicated that the accelerometer calibration was successful as was the compass calibration.

I have also setup a Topside to ROV-side test bench on which I have mounted the Blue Robotics Topside and ROV-side Interface Boards and connected their Tether interfaces with a short piece of CAT5e LAN cable. I have successfully used QGC to communicate with the BBBMINI, running the ArduSub vectored thruster configuration firmware, through the Topside to ROV-side Interfaces and a 5 vdc to 3.3 vdc level shifter connecting the output of the ROV-side Interface serial port to the BBBMINI telemetry connection. A picture of the test bench setup can be seen below:

The Topside Interface Board has a USB connection that allows QGC running on either a PC or a laptop to communicate with the Topside Board,

Once the gamepad calibration is complete we can move ahead with testing the functionality of the ArduSub firmware using QGC.

More to come.



Lookin good!!


Hi All,

Today I have managed to get my Xbox 360 joystick calibrated in the QGC ground station. I was not as successful when calibrating the Radio using the joystick as the calibration failed when trying to calibrate the pitch and roll axis joystick.

However all was not lost as I was able to turnoff all of the pre-arming checks, which includes the RC Radio Check, and was then able to Arm the ROV. Rusty has suggested that the RC Radio Calibration be taken out of ArduSub for the ROVs.

After arming the ROV I proceeded to determine what RC output channels on the BBBMINI corresponded to which axis on the Xbox 360 controller:

On RC 1 I had pwm output when I moved the right joystick yaw axis.

I had throttle axis pwm output on RC 2 when I moved the right joystick throttle axis.

I had pitch axis pwm output on RC 3 when I moved the left joystick pitch axis.

I also had throttle axis pwm output on RC 4.

I had roll axis pwm output on RC 5 when I moved the left joystick roll axis and finally I also had throttle axis pwm output on RC 6.

I am now waiting on word from Rusty as to whether I have the correct RC output for each axis of the two controller joysticks.

More to come.



Hi All,

It turns out that we had the wrong thruster configuration version of ArduSub loaded on the BBBMINI. Once we corrected that issue, joystick input to QGC from the Xbox 360 game pad appears to be driving the BBBMINI thruster pwm outputs correctly for forward/reverse, yaw, and vertical assent/descent.

I have put together a wire harness that will connect the BBBMINI servo outputs to the Signal Junction Board that distributes the individual pwm signals to each Thruster. I created the wire harness by crimping seven servo female pins to a 7 wire cable to be able to connect the BBBMINI 6 servo pwm outputs plus ground to the BR thruster Signal Junction Board. I then soldered each wire in the cable to its appropriate pad on the Signal Junction Board and will be able to hopefully begin testing the six Thrusters this weekend.

More to come.


Tom C AVD  

Getting closer!  I just received my parts from Rusty and am waiting on a PixHawk that should arrive next week.  Once I have everything it'll be time for me to sort out the electronics for my build.  Got to say I'm pretty impressed with both the hardware and software for ArduSub so far.

Hi All,

Believe it or not I was able to literally cram the battery tray, complete with the Power Junction Board connected to the Thruster cable penetrator power cables, into the Battery Compartment WTC without breaking or appearing to short any wires in the cables. Also, the bullet connectors appear to be connected nice and snug with their sleeve shrink intact. Now comes the Smoke Test with a charged LiPo battery powering all of the Thrusters at once instead of one at at time.
After I built the Power Junction Board I performed a continuity test of the Board by buzzing the battery positive side of the power cable to the individual thruster positive cables and likewise with the battery negative side of the power cable. I also checked for shorts between the battery positive and negative power cable leads.
As reported a while back in this discussion thread, I then proceeded to power each Thruster individually from a LiPo battery and checked the functionality of the Blue ESC PWM and I2C control signal lines. Each Thruster performed to expectations when powered individually and proved the integrity of each Thruster power and signal cable.
Now comes the Smoke Test. Assuming there are no shorts between the individual Thruster positive and negative power cables there should be no smoke when I apply LiPo battery power to the Power Junction Board. However, being a realist and believing in Murphy's Law, I plan to put the LiPo battery in a flameproof charging bag that will be inside a metal ammo box. Also I will have a foam fire extinguisher at the ready to quench any unexpected smoke and flames.
Other than running the power test as outlined above, I wonder if there is there anything else I can do to ensure that there are no shorts in the individual Thruster power cables prior to powering up? I thought about running an impedance test at the battery cable connector,  but I doubt that my DMM has the capacity to charge the input capacitors on each BlueESC's power input line so that is probably not an option.

Hi All,

After having second thoughts about powering the Power Control Board wit a live LiPo battery, I remembered that I have an AC powered 12 amp peak 13.8 vdc battery eliminator, complete with overcurrent and short circuit protection, that I can use to check out the integrity of the Thruster Power cable penetrator cable connections to the Power Junction Board. If all goes well, then I can switch over to the LiPo battery to simulate actual ROV operation.

Good news, there was no smoke and fire when I powered up the 6 Thrusters with the DC battery eliminator power supply which means the bullet connector connections between the Power Junction Board and the  Thruster power cables have no shorts or opens.

I then hooked up my trusty servo tester to each Thruster PWM control input and tested each Thruster briefly as to CW and CCW operation and all of the Thrusters were found to be functional.

Now I can setup the Navigation controller and see if I can use the Gamepad along with QGC to command the BBBMINI to drive the Thrusters.

More to come.





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