Sunday, October 4, 2015

For real this time

We took the ROV to the San Marcos River today at La Isla. This is sort of how it went, though it doesn't tell the whole story.

The reality is that for most of the time we could only see a blue abyss, even in bright daylight and clear water.

By the end we had collected some water inside the main tube and called it a day.

Steering was still a huge problem. The ROV always wants to go left. No matter what. We have swapped motors, propellers, tried inversion settings and updated the software to try and solve this problem to no avail. Our newly joined member Evan suggested we try a fixed-position rudder. We may just do it. I am willing to try almost anything given how bad this neutrally buoyant brick flies.

San Marvelous

Road Trip!  DannyE drove us down to San Marcos, TX to test the ROV out in the crystal clear water of the San Marcos River on Sunday.  It went surprisingly well, as far as things for the ROV project are concerned.  First of all, the day was gorgeous:

The dive staging area

We set up shop on an island in the middle of the river, by Rio Vista park.  The island is accessed by a small concrete bridge - carrying a bunch of electronics across that bridge was fun stuff.  The ROV may be waterproof, but most of our gear certainly isn't.
In any case, after setting up and and clearing our pre-dive checks, we chose to launch from this choice looking spot:

Our launching point - a tiny pier and some beautiful water

The goal was to dive in the still area between the fast flowing water on the southern side of the island and the slower (yet still powerful, compared to the ROV's motors) current on the northern side.
And dive we did!

Thar she blows!

Safe to say the San Marcos River was far more powerful than our little robot.  We explored the immediate environs but were swept away by the current repeatedly.  However, we seemed to draw quite a few curious onlookers, including human, piscine, and testudine ones.

Oh, and we saw a really special creature breach the water at one point:

Oh hi

We took a lot of video both from the ROV and the GoPro attached to it.  We'll be editing video and throwing it up here soon so that everyone can see what we're seeing while the ROV is underwater.  We think you'll like it.

We are also really looking forward to diving in some calmer waters more suited to the ROV's power level - namely, lakes like Lake Buchanan.  We are in the planning stages of an exhibition there soon, to look for remnants of the lost city of Bluffton.  Whether we find it or not, we're finally able to use the ROV out in the real world and it feels pretty darn good.  More to come, soon!