Baylor Lake

November 3 2014
We are planning to do an extensive aerial and underwater analysis of Baylor Lake located on the campus of Baylor School in Chattanooga, TN. Using remotely controlled devices we will monitor and compare the lake before, during, and after periods of rain. Read background

November 3 2014


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Preparation Stage

We have discovered the solution to our problem! We can now control the motors, servos, and lights as well as receive real time data form the ROV. A few details left to button up and then we will be ready for our first sea tests!

Thanks to the OpenROV support team as they helped us trace and resolve our issues!

sarrington 1 comment

Glad you have the ROV up and Running! Have you had some successful testing?? We'd love to feature you in the explorer report this week for your work with students, any updates?

It is the last day of class, and there is no information between the robot and the server. However, the camera and software work, and it's waterproof. We are not ready to pass the robot on to the Limnology class yet. Several students will be working independently to get the robot working.

The status lights on the ROV board are as follows: tpwr green, hp yellow, eth yellow, pwr green, d13 red, d49 red, brx yellow.

Students have realized what a challenging process this was. Learning new skills, reading and following directions, and waiting on each others components to be completed were all challenges.

We had to order battery adapters and also make sure that everything was completely sealed. Team work was important throughout the project. We needed more time and to be more careful with the wiring. Working with the acrylic cement was a challenge. Trying to mount the motors was hard, and the steps need to be re-evaluated. Having a picture of what the completed robot should look like would have been helpful.

This is the last update from this class; the next update will be coming from the Limnology class. We look forward to reconvening in the spring to test the robot.

Sounds good! Keep us posted if you need any help with the troubleshooting. You can reach us here:

We'll get someone to help right away! Keep us posted!

Sounds like you have been able to overcome most challenges, congrats!
You are almost there. Can't wait to see pictures and video of your first dive.

Leak test day 2... Success!

After re-seating the seals and paying closer attention to details our ROV successfully submerged without taking on water.

Next - to finish the electronics and conduct a test drive around the pool!

Getting closer to our first open water dive!

sarrington 1 comment

Exciting day! We conducted our first in the pool testing (sans electronics)!

Everything went pretty well - we talked about the observed bouyancy and what we would have to do when it is fully loaded to ensure the best underwater performance. The ROV successfully floated for 60 seconds and endured a shallow 60 scond submersion.e

The ROV then was placed 1 meter underwater and was performing well - the students wanted to ensure that it was watertight at all orientations so we rotated the ROV through all axis of motion and even flipped it upside down. At this point one of the battery end cap seals failed and we immediately saw bubbles - whoops!

Upon our return to the classroom we disassembled all components and observed water had entered all 3 tubes - not a failure but an opportunity. The plan moving forward is to finish all electrical work on Thursday and to make sure that all components are inspected to ensure that epoxy has been applied adequately as well as make sure that all seals have been properly prepped.

Friday should see us turning on the ROV in the classroom with plans to do our first test drive Monday at the pool.


This is Great testing! Is it possible that the water in the tubes was vapor from condensation? If they are sealed in humid air and dunked in a pool, sometimes the condensation causes an issue was looks like a leak, but is readily solvable with desiccant.

A little too much for condensation - we had not sealed the caps properly. Thanks for your help!

We are almost ready for our first underwater testing. The students have included some thoughts on the build process below:

Everybody has been working hard to complete the robot. However, some of the instructions were not clear, so certain parts took more time. Some people were confused about what wires to use when they had to combine pieces. Also, the cord got tangled which caused it to take up more time. The instructions did seem to be clear on what parts to glue and when to glue them.

Assembling the depth sensor was easy when following the instructions, but mounting it might be a little tricky. The picture doesn't really look easy to follow, so adding some more instructions to it would help

The instructions made it easy to understand how to attach the engines. Although due to the size of the screws, the process can be extremely tedious and time consuming. There is no way to attach the engines by yourself.

I first assembled the battery tube end caps with instructions that were easy to follow. I had to attach coils and solder two wires to each end cap. Later in the step guide the end caps were epoxied and attached to the battery tubes. I also soldered the two lasers together with the same wire I used in assembling the end caps. We had trouble getting them to work and decided that the problem was that the beaglebone is not receiving power.

It was easy for us to build the tether system once we had all the right tools, such as the PVC pipe, but before we had that system built, there was no way to efficiently wrap the tether wire up. I think it would be useful to add a sentence or two in the instructions warning the builder to wait to unwrap the tether wire until after the system had been built, and then to carefully wrap the tether wire in a figure eight on the tether system.

While assembling the E-Chassis, one aspect of the process that was easy was using the acrylic cement. What would have made the process of gluing the parts together less difficult and time consuming is if the instructions were more detailed about the orientation or the pictures had better quality, considering the parts are clear. If I were to change the instructions, I would change the format and divide the sections of the robot, rather than having one huge list.

It was easy to follow the instructions with making the E-tube endcaps. It was slightly difficult to figure out which way the syringe ends needed to face because it only has pictures which are fairly unclear. I would have added in a whole new step of instructions dedicated just to showing which way the syringes need to face in the end caps.

My part was stripping wires, soldering them to the board, and creating a scoop attachment for the rov. The stripping although simple was also a slight challenge because I had never done it before, but the instructions were clear enough that I could just do what I had read. The soldering was more difficult simply because it was the nature of the task and I sort of had to make it up as I went. The scoop was fun to make and exciting, it was exciting being able to do something with my own hands

  1. Disassembling the motors was easy.

  2. Soldering the motors was somewhat difficult as I have never soldered before.

  3. I would design a different method of attaching the motors to the ROV, as the current method of attaching them is very tedious.

I worked on the topside adapter and the scoop for the robot. I used the program openSCAD with a partner. We made holes in the scoop to reduce drag and make it light weight for the robot.

The pictures in the steps made building the topside adapter a bit easier. It showed me which sides to glue and which way it should be oriented. I was a little confused on how I should go about getting the home plug adapter apart. I needed the communication board from it to attach to the adaptor board. I eventually learned I had to just pry it open with a flat head which was scary (didn't want to break anything). If I were to write a guide to building this robot I would really go more into detail. Maybe showing a picture on how to take part the home plug adapter for example.

The instructions were solidly in order. My part on the end caps were easy to follow and were descriptive enough to realize what needed to be done. However it was hard sometimes because they never specified which exact parts to use and it was hard to tell from some pictures. Some sections were too descriptive and caused progress to be slower than what the instructions intended. There needs to be a basic picture in every step of what pieces will be needed and the time it should take to do a step.

During the course of this project I have worked on almost all of the different parts of the robot. First starting with the servo, I then moved on to work on the tethering system and I later worked on the motherboard, end caps, and wiring. The job of alter the servo was extremely straight forward and easy to complete. We had trouble with some parts of the wiring though because six wires that didn't connect to anything just randomly showed up without a step which was rather confusing. Lastly I would rewrite or actually write the directions for the tethering system. We figured it out but it took a while, especially after one of our team mates dropped the coil of tether and got it all tangled up.

sarrington 1 comment

Wow, lots of great feedback for the Dozuki instructions here, thanks for recording the student notes! Looks like you have most of a robot there! I'm excited to see the first launch!

MM and MK supervised the project throughout the week. They also kept track of how much work everyone was doing and verified that the correct materials were being used on each step. They made a chart that shows how much work each person has completed and the date on which they completed it. We had several observers this week including a photographer. Although the class has been working hard, we are still a little behind. There are a few parts that we still need which is slowing down our progress. Also, the people who have finished their steps are waiting on other people to complete their steps. However, everybody is determined to get this project completed.

Several students had their first experience soldering and Mr. Thompson from the IT department has been stopping by to help us develop that skill. A few of the comments from the students regarding the build are included below:

“I got all my supplies together to start building. Then I put them together without glue. After that I watched the video and put it together with glue. Then I attached it to the body of the robot.”

“I glued the pieces together for the topside adapter. I had to make sure the pieces were straight before gluing because a circuit had to fit inside the box I made. Getting the circuit out of theadapter was hard but we eventually pried it open. I fit both circuits together nicely and it fit into the correct holes in the box. I also had to make sure that every piece that was part of the box was the right way or else nothing would fit.”

“What I've been working on this week is assembling the electronic chassis and controller board for external electronics and attaching the camera to the camera platform. What I'm working on now is soldering the light panels together that attach to the camera platform. I've been using the pieces and provided materials like cement glue and Mr. Thompson will be helping me with the soldering. I'll also be working with KA to attach his pieces onto the controller board.”

“We have been working on altering the motors for underwater operation. We cut wires, removed wires with the soldering iron, striped wires and soldered wires to the disassembled motor. We put hot glue around the solder joints. I moved shrink wrap around the dried hot glue. This created a seal around the solder. The solder is now waterproof. We will need to do this for the remaining 2 motors. WE broke all 3 of the c-clips that hold the motors together - well, Mr. A broke one of them.”

“This week I worked on modifying the ESC controllers by removing the stock connectors and tinning the wires in preparation for soldering to the Beagle board. I practiced cutting wires before making any actual modifications to the actual ESC. I finished soldering two of the controllers. After I complete the third controller, I have to solder the finished ESCs the board.”

“We have been researching many different ways to create a tether system. After having three prototypes, we discovered the tether system given in the instructions, and decided to build it. It seems to be the most effective system, and it is also fairly simple. Finally, we got the various types and sizes of PVC Pipe, and built the system. “

“This week I began by soldering wires to the springs. Then I connected those to the acrylic circles. I also connected to other aAcrylic circles to the previous ones. Lastly, I sanded the rim of the battery tube to allow the springs to fit in.”

“I worked on the end-caps for the motor. It required acrylic cement, which was very liquidy. It was difficult putting on the discs because they were very tight. Next I'll need to solder the button terminal.”

“I'm working on the end caps for the electronics tube. So far, I haven't completed anything because the one piece my whole section of the build is dependent on is the cut off piece of syringe. This is a problem because we don't currently have anything that can cut it effectively. We need to have something to clamp it down and something sharp enough to cut it.”

Overall the class is moving ahead with a positive mindset. I am pleased to see students helping each other and being particularly careful as they complete their parts of the project. We are all very excited about getting the ROV wet soon! The limnology class provided some good insight into what type of data they are looking to collect. They have some research to complete and we have decided that we will focus on providing them with a baseline mapping of Baylor Lake that they will be able to use for reference later. We are working on sensor development as well but our energies have been focused on our ROV at the moment.

sarrington 1 comment

Great! What parts are you missing? What can we do to help?

We received the OpenROV kit and today unboxed it to get a look at the parts! We are reading through the assembly instructions to make sure we are familiar with the process. We will be meeting with the Limnology class on Friday to talk about the expedition goals.

sarrington 1 comment

Great! Keep us posted on the build!

Expedition Background

Founded in 1893, Baylor is an independent, coeducational, day and boarding school for 1,050 students in grade 6-12. Located in Chattanooga, Tenn., our boarding students represent 19 countries and 21 states.

Situated on the bank of the Tennessee River, Baylor has access to a truly remarkable water ecosystem. In collaboration with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, Baylor School students are becoming stewards of Williams Island – a 400-acre wilderness within easy rowing distance. The island is already the site for archaeology and ornithology projects as well as recreational pursuits such as camping and fishing. Baylor School also hosts an aquatic summer camp in partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium, funded by the National Science Foundation.

With this project, Baylor looks forward to bringing more of our student learning to the water. We are planning to do an extensive aerial and underwater analysis of Baylor Lake. The lake, located within the boundaries of campus, is affected by rainwater runoff as well as the dam that creates Chickamauga Reservoir. Using remotely controlled devices, we will monitor and compare the lake before, during, and after periods of rain. This documentation will be used by future Baylor students to establish long term records and comparisons of the lake and its conditions.

sarrington 1 comment

Welcome aboard!
I have been to Chattanooga a couple times. Beautiful place and the Aquarium is a must-see. This is a great project, please keep us posted!