I recently joined AUVSI and attended their conference in Orlando, FL. Among the many amazing things I saw at the event was an educational section highlighting a curriculum for kids. I was intrigued and decided to buy a kit for evaluation for my robot club. It’s called SeaPerch and is an Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). I purchased the SeaPerch kit including a battery, but without the tools. It cost $169 USD which isn’t too bad, even though I try to keep my program costs closer to $100. Unlike my other robot creations, this one is 100% human operated – not even a single microchip in this robot.
Upon opening the kit, I was impressed with how well organized and well-packed the parts were. Wow – there is even a carrying tote – they thought of everything! The only thing I found lacking was a printed copy of the instructions. A quick visit to their web site allowed me to easily find and download the .PDF with the instructions.
The build took my daughter and I about 5 hours total at a relaxed pace. The build required some power tools like a saw to cut the PVC and a drill. The build is messy at times – wax used to waterproof the motors got everywhere and was a challenge to clean. The build did call for some light soldering of parts onto a PCB. It was my daughter’s first time soldering which she very much enjoyed. Overall, it made for a good day.
Once complete, we took the SeaPerch to the pool for a test run. Our initial thought was to start in the kiddie pool, but it was too shallow for our needs. I took pause before putting it into the water for the first time since I was not 100% confident that the wax would be enough to keep the water out and insulate the electrical connections to the motors, but everything worked fine. The instructions warned that ballast would need to be added to achieve neutral buoyancy, so we bought a bunch of diving weights to place in the net. Unfortunately, they were not enough weight and the SeaPerch would not submerge! Also, due to the placement of the foam floats, it floated at a slight angle. To fix the problem, I’ll need to do a combination of adding more ballast and removing pieces of the foam floats.