Marius (Thomas)

Marius (Thomas)

41 observations in 15 expeditions

Recent Observations

Deployment!! On this run we wanted to test the general environment of the mine, test lighting configurations, achieve optimal buoyancy, and work on the dual camera idea, Our network router suddenly decided to have a power supply failure, so the dual monitoring config was a no-go. We recovered quickly, though, and booted up "The All Seeing Eye" everything worked perfectly, except for a graphics glitch that affected the cockpit hud readouts. No worries, though, the information we needed was to the right in the telemetry pane. We were still able to get excellent recordings of the bottom camera and considered the lighting camera placement perfect! The light cube for the cockpit cube was a little far back and only lit about half the field of view, so some adjustment is necessary there. However, coupled with the internal LEDs and being in close proximity to the cave walls gave us an excellent field of view and clarity for several portions of the wall inspections. The 2.8 dove well, all the way to the bottom and back! We will configure better, troubleshoot some network problems, and return with a boat and some targets to deploy to! Thanks to Doug and Dennis at Bonne Terre Mine for setting this up!

In preparation I created two special ROV's for this expedition. The first was a special deep water prototype that we used to test some of the concepts for the 2.8 (Thicker tube/thicker endcaps/test software/etc). The second was a Makerfaire prototype that Charles Cross and I created to configure with dual cameras and the new external light cubes(one pointing up and one pointing straight down) for an Occulus Rift showcase. I thought this one would be perfect, we call it The All Seeing Eye. I have dived this mine before, it is deep, cavernous, and feels like the Abyss. The first dive is just a "stop in" as I was driving through St. Louis on my way back from Arkansas. Doug and Dennis at the mine allowed us to stop by and deploy from the dock easily. We joined the tour for the beginning of the hike, and then veered off to the Scuba pier and got ready to deploy. We were excited and had the whole area to ourself!

A nice shot of the ROV we plan to deploy!

During my time working at OpenROV I have thought of the story of the Hall City Cave and how the concept of the OpenROV came about. Having learned to dive in Missouri, naturally I have visited the Bonne Terre Mine as it is one of the best places to Scuba in the world. Adventurers from all over visit this flooded mine for a true Tomb Raider experience. The OpenROV was designed for this kind of environment, and I cannot wait to get one in the water there. There is so much to see and explore Cousteau spent several months here. We plan to deploy in the crystal clear water off the scuba dock and go from there. Not sure what we will see, or find in some of the small caverns that are too small for divers. One thing is for certain, the video feed should be breathtaking, and the return on adventure will be high. Follow along for some of the best OpenROV media that you will ever see!

I grew up in this area canoeing the Current, Jacks Fork, Eleven Point, and Spring Rivers. During my youth I observed numerous caves and springs that my father warned me never to play in. Later in life I find myself working for an ROV company. I decided to grab one of our test units "AZI-3" and do some exploring of my childhood stomping grounds. First stop was Eminence Missouri where several freshwater springs can be found. The cockpit video from the ROV was fantastic. I will be going back there throughout the coming year to get more footage and explore the unexplored!

A Giant Drainpipe asking to be explored!!

As a child I listened closely to boats when swimming underwater and was always fascinated how far away they were, in relation to how loud they were underwater. Most of my life has been spent as a musician and a diver. The two were bound to intersect! Lucky for me, I have been able to work with some of the most talented people in both areas. I hope to bring some of the people I have met on this journey so far, as well as form an initial team of interested parties that want to do the same thing. Jim Trezzo(Oracle), Samantha Wishnak (Monterrey Bay Aquarium), and Billy Snook (Hollis) have joined the team at the intitial phases of experimentation and development. Our preparation phase will be loaded with fun, useful information that OpenROVers can use to create their own hydrophone. So far this has been an interesting ride. Can't wait to see what happens next!

We got to lake Merritt, walked up to the shore and deployed. 2080 Immediately found a California Sea Hare (Sea Slug). We got some great footage with the GoPro and Vincent held depth while I got lunch....

Been compiling this video which has been playing in my brain to this exact music all year. Finally got it all edited and into a good format for viewing. Turn the music up and enjoy!! Thanks to everyone that supported me in this Journey!!

WOW!! The team met up at Hollis HQ for deployment at the San Leandro Marina...we hit the water running and this boat is FAST!!

We walked down the trail to a perfect landing with picnic tables, and an area that gave us several choices from where to deploy. Catherine is a Molecular Biology student at Berkeley and has never piloted an ROV; she was excited to get to drive! Cat drove the ROV like a boat about 20 meters out and dove to the bottom, came back up, and then dove to the bottom again. Once she got the hang of it she began surveying the lake bottom. The new model can punch into the rocks, bounce around and keep on trucking! We posted a video excerpt from the bottom survey. We thought if we kept doing this we might find some artifacts on the bottom. Kind of like walking along the beach and looking thru the sand. The one weird thing about this lake, although the signs say we should be able to see some fish, so far we have seen very little evidence of any.

Never realized how close this lake was to home base. We took the scenic route through Redwood Parkway to get there. Chabot park is a wonderful place to visit with or without an ROV. We discovered several trails that led to the lake, and there are many interesting facts regarding the history of the lake. It was built by Chinese laborers in the 1800's. There is also a large well that leads to a tunnel where water is routed for processing. If we asked the ranger, might we deploy the ROV down the shaft?

It is Saturday night and I have an OpenROV 2.7 test unit called VINcent (Disney's The Black Hole) and I am sitting at an urban farm wondering were I can take this thing and what I can explore that is close by. When living in any urban area it is hard to find any clean clear water One of my roommates at Ney farm named Cat mentioned Lake Chabot. I jokingly referred to it as Lake Cha-Bot with my Missouri accent. A Ro-Bot in Lake Cha-Bot? "It's pronounced Chebeaux!!" Cat said. Catherine is a lifetime California resident and is putting up with my terrible accent. Since this lake is so close and might have adequate visibility (5ft?), we decided to embark Saturday morning to deploy the ROV and see what we can see.

What a great day! We successfully deployed the ROV's on three shore dives at Berryessa. The lake is full of great places to deploy the robots, and the visibility was just good enough to enjoy some scenery. Erika and I hiked across the dry lake bed like we were hiking across a desert. After covering several steep inclines we made it to another good spot and let VINcent go. Pretty sure we swam with some striped bass. Was impressed with the overall performance of the units. Motored well and went where we wanted!

Scouting the area actually turned up some great ROV dive opportunities and there are two really good points of entrance and dive types for our expeditions. Visibility in the lake is relatively good, and has improved over the past several years according to local reports. After visiting the lake firsthand current visibility is about 6-10 feet, making it about right for ROV operations. Apparently there is plenty to discover at the bottom of this lake at various depths for testing and fun! Two GREAT things about this lake. First, I met some actual old-timers drinking beer in front of a local tavern that told me about an airplane crash in the deeper part of the lake(see video). By the dam, the depths reach about 100 meters, and with the drought this might be a bit less. Legend has it that a body was recovered from the airplane wreckage, but the actual wreck was never recovered because of the depth. This story was corroborated by a local park ranger. The Park Ranger gave us some information on the exact location of Monticello, and mentioned there is a large bridge under the water where we can dive the ROV's. The ranger also mentioned "there is no telling what you might find down there!". He also approved any missions we wish to carry out in the area, as long as we share with the Ranger station. Markley Cove is a good location for a deep water deployment aircraft search. While Oak shores is a great place for land/camping/deployment to see the sunken bridge and what is left of the town of Monticello. See photos at:

After observing the Kennett CA expedition, it got me thinking about local reservoirs and the possibility of sunken towns in the area. Given the drought, viewing some of these structures is a real possibility if they are still standing. I know the group got some good data and the mobile command center was a great idea. I plan to head to the area to scout out a good location for deployment, and hopefully determine the best place for an OpenROV dive. Below are some background links for the area: This one has a nice zoomable map! From the Archives of the New York Times

Wonderful Adventure at the Monterey Kelp Forest and Abalone Farm. Video below is a great summary. Erika (Echo) Bergman is leading the way in saltwater exploration and testing. These motors still run great after numerous dives because of her rigorous saltwater post-dive regiment. Cleaning the ROV diligently with fresh water will keep your unit running for a long time! The animals and wildlife on these dives were numerous, and we ended the day with a delicious feast of legally obtained abalone!

What a great trip today ! Weather turned out perfect and I created a fun video taboot!

The weather broke so I am going for it!

Choosing the right time. As many already know it can get windy in Richardson bay. So choosing the right time is important. The early morning is usually the best time as the sea and the air is calm. If all goes according to plan, this quickie expedition will leave Triple Helix on Thursday July 24th at between 7:30 and 9 AM. A few others have signed on, and it would be great to have additional urban spelunkers. SeaTrek kayaks is a good place to find a kayak and I have made great friends with their staff. Triple Helix is often a rest stop for some of their adventurers on the way to Angel Island. If the weather turns sour we will wait a while, or reschedule for a better time. Several motorized dinghies are on hand in case rescues are needed!

While sitting on Triple Helix spying on the Belvedere Cove with my binoculars I noticed what could be considered a "blotch" on the landscape. Richardson bay is populated with multi-million dollar homes and beautiful architecture. However there is about a 100 meter swath that had no vegetation, a bunch of concrete, and what appears to be some lava rock sculptures. I plan to investigate. The Richardson Bay is no Joke! Today I had to be rescued! High winds forced me onto a vacant boat where I hailed down Artura from Seatrek. Thanks for the unplanned rescue adventure!!

The expedition team is napping as I sit on the front porch, elated from the days activities. Walt got his autopilot working within an acceptable tolerance. Get to your desired depth, push a button, and the ROV just hovers there! Erika has been hard at work piloting the ROV's as well as acting as logistics manager. I have gotten some great diving in and am learning more than I can handle in a day. Below is a photo of Erika hard at work and a video of the ROV's initial dive. Descended down to 12 meters and said "hello"!

Promoted to Fleet Admiral! One thing leads to another. While creating and painting a new door on Solara my neighbor in the bay, Captain Brian incquired about my handyman skills and if I had any dive equipment. "Funny you should ask", I stated. Apparently Brian's rudder shaft was leaking and his boat, Triple Helix, was taking on water pretty severely. Bilge pump intervals were at about 1:20 seconds. He had wired up borrowed solar panels in order to charge the batteries adequately to keep up with the bilge pump. He was aware of a "sawdust" fix that someone told him about that might repair his issue. If I would don my dive gear and find the rudder shaft and shove handfuls of sawdust into the circular shaft while he tightened the gasket we might resolve the issue. Eager to get some gear on and get wet I did just that. The bay was only about 12 feet deep and with a 5mm wetsuit and muck diving experience I felt right at home. The hardest part was remembering that I needed extra weight for the saltwater, and then finding the rudder shaft. Visibility was inches, and once I started shoving handfuls of sawdust into the shaft I was pretty much "using the force". We had a knock system, two knocks to start process, three knocks to change sawdust type, and four knocks to surface and report progress. The knocking system worked great, and after the fourth knock I came up rather skeptical that this would work. However Brian was jumping up and down on the deck and was very excited. "It worked!!" he shouted. Apparently the sawdust is sucked into the gap, and when re-tightened significantly mitigates the leak. As I type this, bilge pump intervals are every few hours instead of minutes. After fixing the leak, Brian treated me nachos and mentioned he needed someone to captain his boat Triple Helix while he traveled North on business. Again, I volunteered straight away. Triple Helix sleeps 12-15 and is an Ed Horstman Tri-Star 45. Another Tri Maran!! Although Solara has been an adventure, Triple Helix is a definite promotion/upgrade! I am currently rehabbing the Captain's quarters, planning further adventures, job hunting, and investigating new noises on the ship. This expedition is at an end, however I'm sure it will spawn new ones I cannot imagine yet. So far, that has been the case!

Living aboard Solara has been a great adventure so far! Here are some of the immediate issues you face when living on a boat anchored in the bay: Clothing- The temperature changes all day long. So you need warm clothes in the morning and evening that you can shed easily during the day. Transportation-Got this covered. Kayak is preferred method at this point. Looking at some cheap waverunners though. What's that noise!?!? -Rudder banging on something. -Birds walking around on boat. -Something loose in the hold. -When the boat creaks it sometimes sounds like a voice! -Flags or other stuff banging in the wind. Restroom facilities- Thanks to a tip from Eric Stackpole I joined a fitness center and taking a shower is not a problem. More to come!

OpenROV HQ! Everyone here has been a big help in upgrading my bot. Laser and propeller upgrades improved things significantly. Next are battery upgrades and I can have a longer dive with the unit. Working here at HQ has been a dream come true and I can't wait to see the new larger facility that the gang is moving into next week. This expedition has been life changing and I want to thank everyone that supported me. This final waypoint is the conclusion and I hope to log several more with the group while I am in the area. I'm living on a sailboat building robots!!!

Now I have a Kayak. Getting to shore now takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The kayak goes very smoothly across the ocean even in High winds. It's a perfect starter boat for me to get from the Solaris to shore and I'm really glad I brought the grappling hook now because it's perfect to catch something near the shore or another boat and moor myself to a dock. Life jacket was exactly what I needed out here and my compass is perfect for Nav. I'm finding a lot of the equipment I brought that seemed silly is coming in really handy!

The SOLARA! Primary waypoint achieved! The boat is a trimaran sailboat that sleeps 5, 3 comfortably. So far it has been plenty of room for me. The 18 volt dewalt batteries and binoculars have been the best equipment so far. There is a camp-stove and toilet. So far the neighbors are nice and the weather had been great! Just procured a great kayak for going back and forth to shore which I will post more about later. I have met some great people at Maker Faire and I can't wait to finish upgrading ROV 237 this week!

To plan or not to plan!? The planned Denver Aquarium dive did not work out, but the dive master there told me about a perfect place to test my ROV. The homestead crater is a geothermically created hot pot. It has a max depth of 64' and the water temp is a comfortable 86 degrees. Dave (The dive master) is very friendly. This is pretty much a giant bathtub perfect for ROV testing. The staff was extremely helpful and happened to have a used Pelican case. Their website is This waypoint was totally unplanned and has been the best stop so far. I got to test the ROV in optimal conditions, and I could have played a round of golf afterwards if I had the energy. That begs the question...are you really better off planning all the time? I think that is where judgement and intuition come in to help you make those kinds of decisions. Today lack of planning led me to this place which is wonderful! The waters have healing properties as well :).....

The Denver Aquarium! Unfortunately a dive at the Denver aquarium requires a lot of paperwork and corporate approvals. If I plan to stick to any kind of schedule I must travel on! The good news is that everyone was excited to see the robot and I filled out all the necessary approval paperwork so the Open ROV can be welcome on future expeditions. Next stop...Homestead crater. I have called ahead and been granted approval. This is a hot spring dive and no wetsuit is required. Lesson ahead for better results! Better planning can make all the difference! The photo below is a friendly fish that followed me around the aquarium..

I think these are so beautiful. Works of art along the countryside.

The Legend of Sinkhole Sam...although the ROV is operational, I dare not throw it into these murky snag infested waters. After a thorough search, there has been no sign of a giant lake serpent. Although, there were lots of ducks and a Racoon! Temperature has also dropped significantly since yesterday. So far I have used all the camping equipment, the JB weld, and the hammer. (Thought might be good to see what equipment is actually of use!)

Dave and Ruse at angled saved the expedition with their angled cable warehouse! They have high quality USB extensions and are great guys to work with. They can create whatever cable we want to almost any spec! Glad the tour came through Wichita!

Part of the fun of cramming a bunch of gear and just heading out is when you stumble upon a little gem of a roadside campsite that is unadvertised. Santa Fe lake campground popped up on the radar about 10 minutes before I needed to turn. Camping is 9 bucks and all the spots are right on the lake (if only the water had good vis it would be perfection). The place used to be a popular sailboat lake in the 70s.

Oronago MO is no longer a dive location as it is now some kind of superfund site. This was once a fun place to dive and swim with a nice facility. But now is one of the most polluted places in America. I have a feeling I should just get out of here....

Pilots Wanted!! Check the map below and if I'm passing thru your area and you know of a good spot, or are close to one of my waypoints you can pilot an OpenROV! I need folks to help me pilot so I can be in the water filming the ROV. If anyone happens to have a right angled USB between here and Wichita you'd be a hero of the mission!

Managed to get all the tools consolidated down into one kit for ROV construction. Leaving tomorrow morning! ROV is operational except for a mere right angled USB extender. Which I plan to pick up in Wichita. Sourcing parts for the ROV in the Midwest has been a challenge as items one might think are common just are not available locally. Stay tuned for the final Prep stage post as this expedition is almost underway.

Tools. Tools. Tools. Way too many unorganized tools that have been used for numerous home improvement, automobile repairs, and electronics projects (I once repaired Microwave Ovens and VCR's!). The trick here is to consolidate down into two small kits for robotics and boat use.

SCUBA gear! Redundant items in case of failure. Dive flag, knife, lights, go-pro! Let's Go! The video below is for inspirational purposes. See the underwater habitat at 2:11....when I first watched the OpenROV video on Boing Boing the hairs on my neck raised as it invoked this childhood memory!

Gearing Up! From top to bottom, and left to right: life jacket, grabber, machete (great for clearing a campsite or making a trail), grappling hook(garage sale item...why not!), compass, panchos, OpenROV beanie, emergency flares, nylon rope, binoculars, night vision scope, carbinners, headlamp, Dr. Pepper safe, prescription sunglasses, checkbook, passport, flashlight, spare batteries, gorilla tape, wd-40, sunscreen, harmonica, ipad, spare toiletries, tough actin tinactin, and a deck of cards.

This is the map of all the planned waypoints. A link to the google map with more information is below.

While spending time in the midwest landlocked, I lucklily made several Facebook friends on the West Coast that are into diving, science, and even some that designed the OPENROV. After watching all the fun from google hangouts for a year or so, I thought it would be fun to join in on the action! However I have no boat, no family to visit, or any means of lodging on the west coast that would be viable long term. Luckily a facebook friend owns a boat and needs someone to captain it for a few weeks. I volunteered straight away! I will be packing up a vehicle full of scuba gear and hitting several waypoints between Springfield MO and San Francisco CA. The adventure will be filled with planned stops and many random encounters. OpenRov 236 and 237 will be my co-pilots on the trip and will hopefully find some"hot spots for the bots" along the way. I hope to run into some other OpenROVers during my journey. Feel free to follow the trip and meet up with me along the way if you are able! I am not sure what to expect, I'm not a sailor, and several folks have already told me this is a bad idea. But I am very prepared, have parallel skillsets, and have the explorer mindset. WESTWARD BOUND!

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