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The kit has finally arrived! Due to inclement weather that caused 2 school snow days, the delivery was held up. Happy to finally get the kit, the team lost no time in unboxing and starting the building process. Getting closer!
Despite horrible offshore weather due to El Nino (think gusting winds, low visibility, rain, and rough seas), I have gotten a chance to take the OpenROV out for some confined water flying. FAU Harbor Branch occasionally visits "Ditch 5," an affectionately-named former sand quarry now used for SCUBA education. During a recent training dive at the lake, I brought the ROV along to explore the navigation course and monitor the divers. Visibility at this lake is normally 5-10ft, so I'd consider it pretty lucky we got 5ft after all the recent rain. Navigating the reeds and obstacles (tractors, lines, etc.) proved to be quite challenging, but perhaps the most difficult aspect of the flight was staying off the bottom. As it was ballasted for saltwater, and coupled with poor viz, the ROV had a tendency to ram into the soft sediment, and in some cases, get stuck. Contrary to this expedition's mission of monitoring divers, I in fact had to use their better mobility and situational awareness to recover the ROV twice. Considering it was my first major flight and without someone to manage the tether, I am still pleased with the results. I have some video to edit and upload as well. One thing I noticed after the dive, however, that I had some water in the port battery tube. It did not cause any power failure during the dive or corrosion, but I am somewhat confused as to what happened. The seals appear fine, but there was some sand around the o-ring. My best theory is that due to the "ramming," some sand may have displaced the o-ring and caused a small leak. A test in deeper water and more careful flying will determine if this is the case. Once this weather calms down, I'll be out again to dive on some local worm rock reefs and hopefully monitor some diver deployments.
TEST DIVE. First of all, thanks for name suggestions. Somehow the significance of #1776 had missed me? #1776 will definitely be known from here on as ROV Independence! Also, post may be coming a little slower right now. I'm EXTREMELY busy the day job. Wouldn't it be great to be paid to explore sunken towns! But, the story shall move on...I promise! This is jumping ahead a little, but (hopefully) we'll be going to look at a boat this afternoon from Craigslist. Embarrassingly, Rogers Aquatic Exploration does not currently have a boat. Well, rewind that. RAX currently has a large fleet of boats, but none of them are motorized, and would be extremely hard to hold on site in a heavy chop with strong winds (pretty normal conditions around here). Anyway, fingers crossed. Okay, on to the test dive. The first couple dives took place in a concrete raceway where I work. You'll be able to see a small school of young striped bass in the video. No fish were harmed in the making this video (I promise). Actually, after a while they were following the ROV around. The first dives were such a success, that the next day a second round of test dives took place. You'll notice there is no video from these dives ;( They didn't go quite as well. We had control issues, and drive issues, and video uplink issues. Turns out all of those happen when the tether disconnects itself from the topside box. Yeah.
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