ROV X6 Progress Update

Holiday greetings to all who follow the progress of the Purdue IEEE ROV Team! The team members want to thank you for your support of our project and share how well ROV X6 has been progressing for the 2013-2014 ROV season.

We began the academic year with a search for more members to join our project and learn about the the design and applications of ROVs (remotely operated underwater vehicles). Between the Boilermaker B-Involved Fair and the IEEE Callout, we managed to attract more than seven new members to join the nine veterans returning to the team. After a meeting of the veterans on August 22, the team renewed its summer pledge to train the new members during the Fall Semester in all the basics of ROV design. It was decided that the Mechanical Team would meet on Saturdays and that the Electronics Team (the hardware-focused members of the old Electrical Team) would meet on Wednesdays. The Software Team (the remainder of the old Electrical Team) would work with the ARM platform on their own time until the PCBs (printed circuit boards) were ready. The Team Captain would facilitate communication and push the design forward during biweekly meetings on Wednesdays after the Electronics Team met.

Between these meetings and normal IEEE activities, there was no time to waste in preparing the new team members for the difficult design work ahead. At the beginning of the month, veteran team members went to a Recognition Dinner for their hard work the past year. The Mechanical Team spent September learning design rules that would keep manufacturing costs low while distributing Solidworks. The Electronics Team worked concurrently to learn EAGLE for PCB design by completing various tutorials from SparkFun. During ROV meetings, the team produces a list of systems desired on ROV X6 and discussed many ways of improving the perennial systems on the vehicle.

Design work began in earnest in October. At the start of the month, the Team Captain went to Hobart High School EXPO with ROV Model N and her poster and technical report to explain to local students about the strength of Purdue Engineering. The Mechanical Team started to redesign more robust parts for ROV Model N that were damaged and assign simple parts for ROV X6. The Electronics Team assigned team members different blocks of the surface and onboard electronics to capture in schematics. During this time, ROV Model N was touched up for important meetings with the Provost and the President of Purdue University.

The rules for the 2014 MATE International ROV Competition were released on November 1. ROV X6 would have to be able to explore and identify a shipwreck in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, MI while collecting ecological data from the surrounding wildlife on the wreck and around a nearby sinkhole. The Mechanical Team started assigning bigger tasks while building props and working on a robotic arm design. The Electronics Team worked on board layout while designing mission-specific circuits. The Software Team wrote functions for basic tasks, started assigning microcontroller pins and translating the base station, and assigned team members to work on the needed peripherals. Meanwhile, the nontechnical team members were working hard to prepare a published presentation for Underwater Intervention in New Orleans for February 2014.

In December, there was time a team photograph before everyone had to take final exams. Purchased ROV parts, such as the robotic arm servos, started arriving. All designs are being finalized for manufacturing upon the team's return to campus. The team is on track to produce a world-class vehicle that should be capable of accomplishing this mission speedily. The upcoming prospects for the spring semester look bright. Thank you to all our sponsors who have gotten us this far. We hope for the continued support of our fans and sponsors for the rest of this season as we head to Alpena, MI. Boiler up!

Purdue IEEE ROV Team Not to Compete This Season

It is with sadness that I announce that the Purdue IEEE ROV Team will not compete in the MATE International ROV Competition this year. We were unable to build a moving remotely operated underwater vehicle that would be able to complete this year’s mission theme of identifying shipwrecks and studying marine ecology at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, MI. Instead, I will be taking three volunteers with me to assist the competition June 26-28.

ROV X6 (never christened with a permanent name) was set to match or even exceed the level of technological complexity that her predecessors had displayed. She was going to meet our expectations despite the demands of our student schedules, time investment in restoring old vehicles, personnel issues, and a dissimilarity between those most familiar and experienced with our systems and those with the most time to dedicate to the project requiring us to simplify the mechanical design considerably. She was designed to have a lightweight aluminum frame with a compact, potted electronics system. Most amazingly of all, we have a two-wire tether working for the vehicle that transmits the control signals and two video streams over the power and ground lines.

The cause for our withdrawal was the failure of the motor controllers within our SeaBotix thrusters. Those thrusters have plagued us for over a year between miscommunication with the company, a repair after supplying too high a voltage before the previous MATE International ROV Competition, a software and motor winding problem, poor soldering of the connections on our end, and other issues. We are currently in communication with SeaBotix to determine which problems arose from our own actions and which might be the fault of the design. The ultimate decision was to withdraw from the competition when we had less than one week before qualifying, limited people available to help, and limited ability to interface to purchased hardware under these conditions.

I regret to say that this is the 6th year for the team, a committee of the Purdue IEEE Student Branch, and the first time that we have been unable to qualify. After being energized by presenting at Underwater Intervention in New Orleans, LA February 11-13 this year and seeing the latest in ROV technology there, this is an anticlimactic end to our season.

I thank all of you for your support for our team at any point over the last 6 years. We ask that you continue to support this educational venture so dear to us despite our shortcomings this time. We have a plan to prevent debilitating problems like this from arising again. By taking team members to volunteer at the competition this year, some continuity may be had despite the departure of some veteran team members, myself included. Kyle Rakos will be taking over as the Captain. Kyle and those other team members will get the experience of the competition and the chance to see how other teams overcame their difficulties. The current frame will be reused, and parts that will help us in the next season are being machined. The next electronics system will be an extension of the current one. Software redesigns of the graphical user interface (GUI) will continue.

The goal is to have an operational ROV by the end of the summer. Pilot training, a task that has been postponed many times due to technical difficulties, will start in the Fall Semester. The ROV can be improved incrementally from there. The biggest challenge is to fix the thrusters we have in spite of the obstacles we know that we will face.

We will see you next year and hope that you will decide to support us still. Boiler Up!

To see some photos from our season, please follow this link:

Michael Hayashi
Team Captain
Purdue IEEE ROV Team
Purdue University | Electrical Engineering