OpenROV debuts during Algalita 2014 POPS International Youth Summit at Dana Point Ocean Institute

April 5, 2014
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The Team with Capt Moore

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OpenROV going into demo tank

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OpenROV on Display

Our Robodox Algalita OpenROV build team attended the subject conference and gave Captain Charles Moore and crew their first look at the OpenROV that will be used to survey fish habitat located in plastic pollution during their July expedition to the Pacific Gyre.   See this video for Capt Moore interview.

Here is a link to the team summit report posted in our blog “Robodox Engineering ROV for ORV”

We had a short tank demo with a missing thruster… but at least we were able to go in circles:) Thanks to Dave L. for trying to get us new motors on the spur of the moment. We now have things back to normal and will proceed with salt water testing next week.

I was excited to finally get onboard the Alguita ORV and see how we might deploy the ROV. The girls on the team were more excited to see surfer-singer Jack Johnson!

Chris

Here are all the images from the conference…. sure was a beautiful place to meet.

 

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Homemade sea water for testing an ROV

March 16, 2014

Our GHCHS Algilata OpenROV project is not located near the ocean.   The OpenROV community has found that salt water operation can be flakey compared to fresh water due to low resistance between the salt water and  external wires that connect the battery tubes and the motors.     This post deals with making simulated sea water for testing the OpenROV in the lab.

Sea water conducts electricity due to the dissolved salts that produce ions for transporting charge between conductors submerged into the water.   Typical sea water has 35 parts per thousand  by weight of salt in water.    Since water at standard conditions weighs 1000 grams/liter then we can say that sea water has 35g of salt per liter.

I wanted to use just a cup measure to make a batch of sea water.     So I weighed one cup some Himalayan salt and found that it weighed 8 oz.  So we can estimate the weight of salt using this ratio…about 1  avoirdupois oz weight per 1  fluid oz .   Of course this will vary with the granularity of the salt due to variations in packing density but it should be good enough for conductivity testing.

Given that there are 28.3 grams per avoirdupois oz and  33.8 fluid oz per liter the sea water concentration of 35 gm per liter converts to  1.24 avoirdupois oz per 33.8 fluid oz or

1 avoirdupois oz per 27.2 fluid oz.

Since 1 cup (8 fl oz) of Himalayan salt weighed 8 avoirdupois oz then I would need to mix this with 217.6 fluid oz of water or 27.2 cups of water (1.7 gallons)

So I now have a simple rule of thumb for adding granulated salt to water using a volume measure:

volume ratio salt:water  1 : 27.2 

Other useful equivalents:   5.7 oz salt per gallon of water

                                              1/4 cup salt to 6 3/4  cup water

                                             1 tablespoon  salt to  1.7 cups water

Measuring salinity using conductivity:

Scientist often use conductivity to estimate salinity.   Standard units of conductivity are Siemans/meter  (S/m).    The electrical conductivity of 35 ppt salt water at a temperature of 15 °C is 42.9 mS/cm  (ref).   Thus 35 ppt equates to 42.9 mS/cm.

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Taken from wikipedia

Conductivity measurements assume that there are two parallel electrical plates of area A in water at a distance L apart.   If a voltage (V) is put across the plates and the current flow (I) measured then the conductivity  k = I/V*L/A =  L/(R*A)  where R is the resistance V/I.    Under ideal conditions the conductivity between the ROV wires and the water should be very low (high resistivity) but if a small area of copper is exposed  then conduction can occur. eg  some OpenROV forum members are finding resistance on the order of kiloohms rather than megohms.

Practically, if you put two probes from an ohm meter into water, the measured resistance will depend upon the area of the probe submerged and the distance between them.   You can use this as a reference to test your simulated sea water at home.

conductivity plug testerI made a simple  crude conductivity  instrument out of a two prong to three prong electrical plug adapter.   The plug prongs are separated by 1 cm and the exposed area between the prongs is almost exactly 1 sq sm.  I covered the non-facing sides with tape or you  could use paint or nail polish to insulate the surfaces from water.   See photo.

In the field,  dip the plug tester prongs into the water and measure the resistance between them.  Note the temperature since conductivity varies a lot with temperature.

Theoretical  plug conductivity prediction for sea water.

k = L/(R*A)  = 1/R            S/cm

= 1000/R    mS/cm

Typically sea water resistance in ohms for this homemade instrument  at 15 deg C would be

R_ohms = L/(A*k)= 1cm/(1cm ^2)/(42.9 mS/cm) = 1000/42.9 = 23.3 ohms

When creating your simulated sea water at  home you would like to have similar conditions.   You would add salt to your water tank/tub until the resistance level matched.

Testing:

I did a quick conductivity test by dissolving 1 tablespoon of Himalayan sea salt in 1 3/4 cups of water.   The measured resistance  using my plug conductivity tester was around 3 kohms with a VOM meter and using the voltage / current method the resistance was 230 ohms.     So it is reading much higher than the theory.    The test was done at 70F (21C).   Temperature changes the conductivity about 2% per degree.  The measurement was 6 deg C higher so at most we would expect a 12%  increase over the 15 C reference.

The absolute measurements can vary too much with conductivity so I would recommend just using the 35g/kg  salt/water mixing method or just doing relative conductivity measurements..i.e.  matching field conductivity to home conductivity under similar conditions.


Making Fat Shark FPV goggles work with OPENROV ($7 solution ?)

March 7, 2014

Robodox ROV team is building an OPENROV 2.5 kit for Algalita Research Foundation to take on their July 2014 Pacific Gyre expedition.    The ORV catamaran , named Alguita, will take a team of scientist to sample and analyze the effects of plastic in the ocean on marine species.    To help extend their capability to locate plastic concentrations they are utilizing a variety of sensors.   One is a Phantom quadcopter drone equipped with a Fat Shark Predator V2 FPV system.

IMG_7776The Predator V2 uses two LCD screens to display video in goggles show below.

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The Predator specifications are shown here.   Pictures are sent from an aerial camera platform to the goggles in real time over a 5GHz wireless link.

openrov 2.4The underwater ROV that Robodox is building will do a similar function by transmitting HD camera video to a topside Laptop computer over a two wire tether.    It would be desirable if the Fat Shark video goggles could also display the Laptop video sent by the ROV.    Unfortunately the video formats are not compatible without a VGA to composite video converter.   I did a little research into how this could be accomplished.

Here is the plan:

1) purchase a Tmart $3  VGA to A/V RCA converter.  03m-VGA-to-SVIDEO-and-RCA-Female-Cable_320x320

2) Purchase an $3.50 Allelectronics 3.5mm  A/V  to RCA cable with 6 ft  extension to allow freedom of movement between the laptop and the goggles.

3) Plug the VGA converter into the laptop VGA output port and then plug the 3.5mm A/V cable into the Fat Shark video input port via the extension.   Turn off the Fat Shark wireless receiver.

Seems like this would work…yet to be tested.

Wireless Connection to the Fat Shark

The transmitter side of the Fat Shark FPV system involves a small 600 TVL camera that plugs into a transmitter compatible with the receiver in the goggles.

Fat Shark tranmitter

If the transmitter is available on the boat (ie a spare that is used for the Phantom drone) then the output of the converter could be used in place of the camera output that plugs into the transmitter.   This way the goggles could be free from any wires. There would be another plug adapter to mate the composite video RCA plug to the plug on the xmitter.


Robodox performs well at 1st Week FRC Inland Empire Regional

March 5, 2014

Robodox performs well at 1st Week FRC Inland Empire Regional

GHCHS Team 599 Robodox attended the 2014 Inland Empire Regional FRC competition. We collected the Engineering Design award and also the competition finalist award and medals. It was a well run competition and we had a great time. Once again we had a top performing robot that got beat by a stronger no 1 alliance. We made an operational mistake  in the finals that cost us the first match by breaking communication during setup and causing our Crio to need resetting after the match started and we sat out the Autonomous plus some seconds.    Our alliance partners 294 and 4139 were having functional problems in the second so we were soundly trounced by the winning alliance led by 1678 citrus circuits who teamed up 399 and 4161.   The 2nd final match (see video) was a thing of beauty with 1678 and 399 performing two truss catches and racking up a 229 to 72 score.  Hopefully we can redeem ourselves at  our next regional  in Sacramento where we will once again tangle with 1678 citrus circuits from Davis.   Also, thanks again to 294 for selecting us for the direct eliminations.

Winning the engineering design award means a lot to us since this year we focused on doing a 3D Solidworks design supported by solid prototyping. All fabrication was done based upon automated drawings made from the 3D model. This the best looking robot we have done in years and clearly the most durable. See this post for picture.
Lots more pictures on my facebook page.
The choo-choo catapult reset mechanism performed well so long as we kept the linkages in good order. The high forces caused holes in the linkages to elongate after a day worth of shooting. This was anticipated so we brought three spares and used them all. We will use steel linkages rather than aluminum at our next competition so they should last longer.

Robodox also ran the robot First Aid Station and the spare parts booth. We also had on display our underwater ROV which will be used by Algalita Research Foundation to do plastic pollution exploration in the Pacific Gyre this summer.


2014 Frc Aerial Assist Robodox 599 Robot ready to compete

February 26, 2014

 2014 robot pre bag

Come see us compete this Saturday and Sunday with our new robot at 2014 Frc Arial Assist Inland Empire Regional,   We will also have our Algalita underwater ROV on display to play with.

Robot is a catapult with Choo Choo reset mechanism.  < 2 sec recock.   Full range capability allows multi ball shooting capability during 10 second autonomous.   Drive is a dual speed 4 CIM West Coast configuration.  Pneumatic intake arm control.

Preview video of the Anesthesiologist.


Algalita OPENROV ready for testing

February 25, 2014

 

I wanted to share what the Robodox Algalita ROV engineering team has been up to for the last two months.  See Robodox Engineering ROV for ORV blog post : Feburary Status Update .   I am happy with their progress and we expect to have the underwater robot ready for the Algalita summer voyage.

Relevant posts:

Dec 20 2013 OpenROV Berkeley Trip

Robodox 599 Algalita 2014 Youth Summit Video Submission

Use of Robotics to support Algalita research into the Pacific garbage patch

Links:

http://robodoxrov.wordpress.com (build blog)

Algalita ROV project facebook page


2014 FRC Choo-Choo wheel reset geometry calculator

January 30, 2014

This year’s FRC robot has a catapult arm that requires a reset wheel mechanism that will pull the arm down and release it automatically by just rotating a single “choo-choo” wheel.    The exact linkage lengths and relative pivot point locations are determined by the attached excel program.

2014 FRC arm pivot geometry calculation


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