Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Troublesome Start

Unfortunately, our first technical blog will start a bit dreary. After the hustle and bustle of our many flights, and the changing of connections with our luggage, damage was done to the ROV’s stand. The picture shown below illustrates the complete fracture of the stand in two areas, leaving the stand unstable and hardly strong enough to hold its own weight on dry land. Our second technical problem of the day was also a result of the long journey and the solution to this problem is yet to be solved. One of the control boxes for the ROV no longer shows a display reading any of the crucial coordinates such as compass direction, depth and time. Although these technical problems are certainly not a great way to start our research in Malta, we still maintained high spirits and worked to solve these problems before days end.

Before we could fix these issues we needed to calibrate the depth sensor on the ROV with an air gun to 50 psi. The ROV uses a pressure reading to determine an accurate depth measurement shown in the control box. The problem was we did not have an air gun but luckily Timmy’s close friend Erin was here to help. Erin was kind enough to pick up Joseph and I, along with the ROV, took us to his boat on a small island called Manoel to calibrate the depth sensor. The first obstacle came in the form of a 3 foot gap between the landing and the 1 ft wide ramp leading to the boat with the equipment needed to calibrate the ROV. What would normally be a simple stretch or a light jump became very difficult with a large 45 lb. box holding the cables to the ROV. I almost attempted the jump but realized that would not end well and convinced Erin to dangerously lean over the ramp and grab the box from me. With the first hurdle out of the way we proceeded to calibrate the depth sensor with an air compressor he had on board the boat. Erin did not have the proper fighting to pressurize the small hole in the ROV to 50 psi but with a little ingenuity and some quick thinking by Erin we were able to cut the air hose and create a seal around the pressure sensor. After a few failed attempts at calibrating the pressure sensor, Joe and I timed the air gun to get the pressure coming from the gun to be 50 psi right when Joe pressed the calibrate button, ensuring an accurate calibration. Our test with Erin’s underwater sonar matched the readings we were seeing on the control box ensuring our make-shift calibration was successful. After all the troubles of getting the correct pressure dialed-in, the depth calibration was finally correct but there was still the ROV stand and the control box to fix.

Although our ROV stand was broken, our backup (nonfunctional) ROV became very useful for spare parts and the stability was renewed again when we switched the two stands. We were unable to fix the control box for the time being but we believe it may just be a loose connection and we will investigate this problem as soon as we are able to.

Picture: The ROV's fractured stand (some of us may refer to them as the "legs" of the robot)


  1. Wow, good work sorting through difficulties! Keep up the good work!


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