New Products! Raspberry Pi 3, Wide-Angle Camera, Penetrator Wrench, and Ballast

Today we’ve got a few new products! All of these are included in the BlueROV2 kit, but they’re very useful items on their own as well.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

First off is the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, the most popular single-board computer in the world that’s at the heart of our Advanced ROV Electronics Package for communication and video streaming. Besides that, it’s very useful in a wide range of projects. In addition to the Raspberry Pi, we have an 8GB micro SD card that is preloaded with the Raspbian Linux operating system as well as the software and startup scripts needed as a companion computer for ArduSub.

Raspberry Pi v2 Camera w/ Wide Angle Lens

Besides relaying communications from the Pixhawk autopilot through the tether, the Raspberry Pi is connected to a camera and reads, compresses, and sends the camera stream to the surface computer. The Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2 is the newest Raspberry Pi compatible camera, announced in April. The stock camera has a very narrow field-of-view of about 62 degrees horizontally. The version we have here has a custom M12 lens holder and a 1.7mm wide angle lens, expanding the camera’s field-of-view to about 110 degrees! This is much more suitable for use on an ROV and many other projects.

Penetrator Wrench

If you’ve ever tightened cable penetrators on a densely packed end-cap, like the 14 Holes End-Cap for the 4″ Series, you’ll know it can be tough. This specially designed penetrator wrench makes it easy! The chrome plated steel tool is shaped to fit over the penetrator head, even in tight spaces. The included lever bar allows you to hand tighten to the perfect amount of torque.

This is definitely our new favorite tool!

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New Videos of the BlueROV2 in Action

We’ve posted several new videos of the BlueROV2 in action in several locations. The first shows the BlueROV2 during a trip to Ensenada, Mexico where we visited two fish farms. The BlueROV2 was used to inspect their cage anchors and the inside of the cages. We were able to rapidly inspect anchors at 130 ft depth and found issues with several of them. Each anchor took 10-15 minutes to inspect.

The second video was from our filming on the Big Island of Hawaii. We visited a number of reef sites and filmed the fish and corals. All of this filming was done from shore, sometimes with a snorkeler in the water to film and keep an eye on the tether. The reef scenery and wildlife is incredible, but we also saw a significant amount of dead and dying coral. It’s sad to see.

We’ll have a few more videos from these trips, including one showing the open waters of Hawaii!

Press Release: New BlueROV2 Enables Underwater Exploration and Study


TORRANCE, California, 21 June 2016 – Torrance startup, Blue Robotics, announced a new high-performance and affordable underwater drone, the BlueROV2. The BlueROV2 continues Blue Robotics’ mission to improve the accessibility of ocean exploration and study. The BlueROV2 is available for reservations now and shipping will commence in August 2016.

Leveraging a vectored thruster configuration that is usually only seen in high-end vehicles, the BlueROV2 is smooth and stable yet highly maneuverable. It provides a solid platform to attach scientific equipment, film cinematographic quality shots, and explore the oceans down to a depth of 100 meters.

“From day one, our goal has been to make marine robotics accessible to more people and businesses than ever before,” said the company’s founder, Rustom Jehangir. Since announcing their first product, a low-cost underwater thruster motor, in 2014, Blue Robotics has been steadily releasing new enabling products ranging from watertight pressure enclosures to depth sensors and underwater lights. The new BlueROV2 is, according to Jehangir, the company’s “new flagship product – a fusion of all of our other products and efforts.”

Used in wide-ranging applications from boat inspections to aquaculture to shipwreck exploration, remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) have long been in an industry dominated by a small number of companies, targeting big business and government applications. The heavy price-tags attached to these vehicles can range from $4,000 to $100,000 or more.

The BlueROV2, however, comes in a number of different configurations, with a standard kit costing just around $3000. “We’re able to make the BlueROV2 at a fraction of the cost of similar vehicles thanks to many of the same technologies that have made aerial drones affordable,” said Jehangir. That includes the use of the open-source Pixhawk autopilot as well as a Raspberry Pi computer.

The price of the BlueROV2 will enable wider use of subsea vehicles for many people including universities, research organizations, small businesses, hobbyists, and first responders. “We know there are a lot of people out there with an urge to explore the ocean,” says Jehangir, “and the BlueROV2 is a tool to help them do so.”

The BlueROV2 is available as a partially assembled kit that is simple and enjoyable to build and requires several hours of user assembly. It can be reserved at no cost starting today, June 21st. The kits will begin shipping in August 2016.

Blue Robotics is based in Torrance, California and launched in 2014 with a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. Since then, the company has shipped thousands of thruster motors and has released many other products for marine robotics. Blue Robotics’ products are in operation in over 40 countries worldwide.

Read more about the Blue Robotics Team and the BlueROV2 here:

(PDF and Word versions of this press release available on the media kit)

New Products! Fathom-X and Fathom-E Ethernet Tether Interfaces

Hello everyone! In lieu of our normal new product video update, we just have the blog post today. We have a big update coming next week and we’re pretty busy preparing for that!

A few weeks ago we launched the Fathom-S tether interface that provides analog video and serial communications. Today we are announcing two more tether interface board options. Both of them provide Ethernet connections, but with different trade-offs in performance and cost. We’re really excited about these Ethernet tether interfaces because they enable live HD video streaming and more expansion options in the future.

Fathom-E is a simple and economical interface board that works well for shorter lengths (<100m) of tether. This board is dead simple: it's just an Ethernet jack and a terminal block, making it easy to connect the Fathom Tether or an Cat5 cable to an Ethernet port. It uses all four twisted pairs in the cable, but provides a simple and reliable connection!

Fathom-X is a lot more capable, but at a higher cost. This board uses a HomePlugAV module to send 100 Mbps Ethernet through a single twisted pair of wires. Additionally, it’s robust enough to do that in high-noise environments and over tether lengths of at least 300m (the data sheet indicates that it will work to 2000m! We haven’t tested that.) Since it only uses a single set of wires, the rest are free for other uses, including pairing it with the Fathom-S interface board for analog video and serial communication.

Check out the documentation for the Fathom-X for more information. We only have a limited quantity of the Fathom-X boards in stock at the moment, but there will be more in the near future.

Both of these boards share the same mounting holes as the Fathom-S interface, making it easy to interchange between options or upgrade later. They also come with a flexible 6″ Ethernet cable to make it easy to connect to a computer onboard the ROV.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for some big news!

New Products! Fathom-S Tether Boards, Low-Light Analog Camera, and Subsea Buoyancy Foam

Happy hump day! We have a few new products today that are great compliments to the neutrally buoyant Fathom Tether that was launched a few weeks ago. The new Fathom-S Tether Interface Boards provide a robust video and communication interface through the tether. A new analog camera works great with this system to provide clear, low-latency video. Last, and unrelated, we have a new size and density of subsea buoyancy foam that can handle much greater depths.

Check Out the New Product Video!

Fathom-S Tether Interface Board Set

The new Fathom-S Tether Interface Boards help you get the most out of your tether. Using the Fathom Tether Cable or any Cat5 networking cable, they provide reliable long-distance communication, a low-latency analog video stream, and a remote power switch for your ROV.

We only have a limited quantity of these in stock at the moment, but there will be more in the near future.

Here’s a summarized list of features:

  • Low Latency Analog Video through NTSC or PAL (1000+ ft, 300+ m)
  • Adjustable Video Gain for different tether lengths
  • Full-duplex RS-422 serial connection with TTL and USB connections (up to 250 Kbps, 4000 ft, 1200 m) (3.3V logic, 5V tolerant)
  • Power switch that uses a 3-50V input signal to turn on interface (and optionally the autopilot and/or a high power switch/relay)
  • Onboard 5V and 12V (camera) regulated supplies
  • Jumpers to enable/disable configuration options
  • Power-on through tether / power always on when batteries connected
  • Power cycle on USB RTS signal for Arduino programming
  • DroneCode Mini Compatible JST-GH and DF13 connectors

Check out the documentation for the Fathom-S for more information.

Low-Light Analog Camera (NTSC)

The Fathom-S interface requires an analog camera – this new Low-Light Analog Camera is perfect for that. We spent a lot of time comparing different analog camera models and this one had the best clarity, colors, and incredible low-light response. In side-by-side tests, this camera displayed clear colors in a dark environment where other cameras displayed solid black.

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New Product: The Fathom Tether!

Hello! Today we’ve got a new product that’s been in the works for the better part of a year: the Fathom Tether.

The tether is one of the most important parts of an ROV – it provides the connection for control and live video feed and sometimes power. When it comes down to size, weight, and cost, the tether is one of the primary components of any ROV.

We designed the Fathom Tether with a few things in mind. We wanted something that is affordable, and at $5/meter, this tether is very affordable compared to existing options. But, we didn’t want to sacrifice quality, flexibility, or capability at all. We’re really happy with the result: an affordable tether that is capable in a wide variety of situations.

Check out the new product video to learn more!

New Product Video

Fathom Tether

The Fathom Tether is available in a number of different lengths from 1 meter to 300 meters.

Here’s a quick list of specifications – be sure to check out the product page for the rest!

  • Neutral buoyancy in fresh water, slightly positive in seawater
  • 4 unshielded twisted pairs of 26 AWG wire
  • Low-drag with 7.6mm outer diameter
  • Kevlar strength member for 350 lb breaking strength
  • High-visibility yellow polyethylene foam jacket
  • Waterblock fibers throughout cable to stop any leaks from rips/holes
  • Flexible enough to maneuver, stiff enough to avoid tangles
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Introducing ArduSub! (and BR DroneCode Membership)

Introducing ArduSub: The Open-Source Future of Subsea Vehicle Control

Today we’d like to share something that we’ve been working on for quite a while. If you stay on top of our forums or Github page, you may have already seen a bit about it.

This new project is called ArduSub.

ArduSub, we hope, will become the open-source future of subsea vehicles. It encompasses the software and hardware that make up the brain of an ROV or AUV, providing everything needed to control the vehicle, communicate with the surface, and perform sophisticated subsea missions.

reef-bluerov-hi-1

Reef image captured by an ArduSub-powered ROV.

At Blue Robotics, we’ve always embraced open-source technology and this project is no different. ArduSub is based on the open-source ArduPilot project, one of the world’s most capable and successful autopilots for drone airplanes, helicopters, and ground vehicles. ArduSub takes the ArduPilot project to a new frontier with subsea capabilities targeted towards ROVs and AUVs.

bluerov-dev-1

Stability PID tuning during development of ArduSub.

What does that mean for future ArduSub users? It means that this project isn’t started from scratch – it’s born from years of previous development work, hundreds of contributors, thousands of hours of testing, and several generations of hardware. That provides ArduSub with a rapid path to maturity and already-built-in capabilities and features that surpass those of many commercial ROVs.

deep-bluerov-hi-1

Deep-dive test at 135m with an ArduSub-powered ROV.

It also means options. ArduSub is compatible with ten or more different hardware options, multiple topside user interfaces on every operating system, a wide variety of sensors and actuators, and a host of tools such as DroneKit, mavros, and more.

All of this is thanks to the open-source community that has been working on ArduPilot for many years. Blue Robotics is committed to supporting the continued work of that community and to contribute back to it. We have proudly joined the DroneCode Foundation, which manages the ArduPilot codebase, and hope to support this great organization for many years.

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New Products! Depth & Temp Sensors and a Book

Hello and Happy New Year! We have a few exciting new products today including the Bar30 Depth/Pressure Sensor, Celsius Temperature Sensor, and the great Underwater Robotics textbook.

New Product Video

Sensor: Bar30 Depth/Pressure Sensor

The Bar30 depth/pressure sensor (named after the Bar unit of pressure measurement) is a high-pressure, high-resolution pressure sensor that is sealed from the water and conveniently designed to fit into the watertight enclosures. It can measure depths of up to 300m (1000ft) and its 0.2 mbar resolution makes for an amazing depth resolution of 2 mm in the water column. It also includes a temperature sensor with accuracy of ±1°C. We’ve designed it with a DF13 plug to be compatible with many DroneCode compatible boards including the APM2.6, PixHawk, and others.

This sensor communicates over I2C and we have an Arduino Library available. You’ll have to use a 5V to 3.3V logic level converter for use with 5V systems such as the Arduino Uno.

Sensor: Celsius Temperature Sensor

Even though the Bar30 sensor includes a temperature sensor, many scientific applications require better accuracy. The Celsius temperature sensor provides exactly that. We designed it specifically for scientific measurements with an accuracy of ±0.1°C and a fast time-response to create accurate temperature profiles from a rapidly descending vehicle.

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New Products: Vacuum Test Plug, Aluminum 4″ End-caps, and O-ring Pick

Hello!

Today we are very excited to announce a few new products, updates to thruster pricing, and some updates to current products. There’s also the second installment of our New Product Videos – take a look!

First on the list today is a neat part that allow you to quickly test the enclosures for a proper watertight seal. The part, called the “Vacuum Plug”, inserts into the enclosure vent, replacing the plug that normally keeps it sealed. The other end has a hose barb that attaches to a hand-operated or electric vacuum pump.

With the pump and the vacuum plug, you can remove air from the enclosure, creating a vacuum and simulating external pressure. By monitoring the pressure on a vacuum gauge, you can see if the seals are leaking or not. Even a single hair caught in the seal can cause a failure. Vacuum testing is a fantastic way to validate the enclosures and make sure that your electronics are safe!

The vacuum plug is made from anodized aluminum and comes with O-rings as well as a rubber stopper that can be used to plug the hole in the vacuum plug so that you can test the pump, hose, and plug separately from the enclosure to make sure they are sealed.

We’ve also got a few new end-cap options for the 4″ Series watertight enclosure product line. These two new end-caps are made from anodized aluminum instead of acrylic plastic. That makes them stronger and provides a better depth rating. The official depth rating is not yet determined, but we have tested them to a maximum of 200m depth so far (on a short enclosure). Additionally, aluminum is much easier to drill, tap, and machine so that you can add your own connectors and fittings. We have a 10-holed end-cap as well as a solid one.

Ever had trouble removing an O-ring from a groove? This nylon O-ring pick makes the job easy and, unlike metal tools, has no risk of scratching the groove in the process. It works great for the enclosures, penetrators, and just about any O-ring application.

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New Products! 3″ Series Watertight Enclosure, M200 Motor, and Updates to Motors/Thrusters

Hello and happy Friday! We have some new products to announce today including a new 3″ Series Watertight Enclosure, the M200 Motor, and some small updates to all of our motors and thrusters. We also have our first New Product Video Update! Check it out:

3″ Watertight Enclosure (15% off until Oct 23rd!)

About three months ago we introduced the 2″ Series and 4″ Series Watertight Enclosures. They provide an easy and reliable way to keep your electronics dry. They work great with our cable penetrators, making them easy to use with thrusters and motors.

While the 2″ and 4″ sizes are great, we felt that a size in between those two would be great. That’s why we designed the new 3″ Series enclosure. The design is very similar to the other enclosures with interchangeable end-caps, double O-ring seals, and high quality anodized aluminum parts. The cast acrylic tube comes in a standard length of 11.75″ (298mm) as well as custom cut lengths.

One of the coolest features of the 3″ enclosure is its increased depth rating of 150m. This rating is still conservative and safe. We recently tested the enclosure down to 200m depth with no issues. It was used to carry the camera in this recent implosion test of the 2″ Series enclosure to 200m.

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