BlueROV2 Frame Updates

By: Jonathan N., Mechanical Engineer at Blue Robotics

Hello everyone! Today we’ve got a few BlueROV2 updates to announce. We’re always working to make our products better, especially the BlueROV2, and these small changes make a big difference in the feel of the ROV’s frame. Here are the changes.

Minor updates to the BlueROV2 frame.

We have rounded the edges everywhere on the frame. Not only does this look awesome, but it makes the ROV much more comfortable to carry by hand.

Rounded edges on ROV side panel.

We have changed the threaded inserts from press-in inserts to captured inserts. We made this change to make the frame stronger and more rigid. This makes it much more ruggedized and resistant to damage. There are more pictures on the BlueROV2 product page.

Captured insert on ROV bottom panel.

Last, there are now two sets of vectored thruster mounting holes; the original set at 45° and a new set at 30°. Mounting the thrusters at 30° instead of 45° increases the available forward thrust by 22% but reduces lateral thrust by 22%. This configuration is better for missions that require flying forward quickly or for a long time. We wanted this option to speed up the ROV when searching for shipwrecks or other targets. You rarely need to move laterally at full speed, so the loss of lateral thrust is barely noticeable. In any case, the original holes are still available to give you options!

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Mounting options for 45° angle to forward.

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Mounting options for 30° angle to forward.

The new frame is now available separately on our store for anyone who is interested. This frame kit comes with all of the HDPE panels, the anodized aluminum enclosure cradles, and all of the required hardware.

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New Stable Release of BlueROV2 Software

Newest QGroundControl release.

Hello everyone! Today we’re proud to announce an updated release of the BlueROV2’s core software, which includes ArduSub, Companion, QGroundControl. This is our second big software update, and this time it can be performed without opening the electronics enclosure!

Notable changes in this update are:

  • Ability to display camera tilt angle, lights level, tether turns and more in QGC
  • GPS input support in Companion, including support for the Water Linked Underwater GPS Developer Kit
  • Fewer default pre-arm checks
  • Acceptable compass calibration threshold has been relaxed
  • Pilot input failsafe timeout increased from 1 second to 3 seconds (‘Lost manual control’ message)
  • Gyro calibration is disabled at boot by default
  • Support for the Bar100 pressure sensor
  • Companion login is changed to:
    • user: pi
    • password: companion
  • Allow selecting a custom image to display in the QGC ui in place of the ‘ArduSub’ logo
  • Many other various bugfixes, feature additions, and improvements, reference the release notes below for a comprehensive list of changes

We’ve done a lot of work to get this point and special credit goes to Jacob and Daniel, our primary Blue Robotics software developers. We strongly encourage all BlueROV2 users to upgrade to this newest software update. Please visit the full forum topic for update instructions.

New Products! Low-Light HD USB Camera and Bar100 Depth/Pressure Sensor

Hello, friends! It’s a lovely day to #godeep, and today we’re stoked to bring a couple of capable products into the picture.

Check out the New Product Video on Youtube:

Let’s bring our focus to the new Low-Light HD USB Camera. This camera is ideally suited to use underwater with excellent low-light performance, good color handling, and onboard video compression. A specially-chosen wide-angle, low distortion lens provides excellent picture quality on the ROV. With a 3D printed camera mount, it is a drop in replacement for the Raspberry Pi Camera on the BlueROV2.

Next up we have the Bar100 Depth/Pressure Sensor. It’s built around the Keller LD Series pressure/temperature sensor, which communicates via I2C communication, just like the Bar30 Pressure/Depth Sensor. It can measure up to 100 bar – that’s over 1000 meters water depth! It has a pressure resolution of 3 mbar, providing a depth measurement resolution of 3 cm in the water column.

The Bar100 is compatible with our Watertight Enclosure Series and we have new Arduino and Python libraries to interface with it. The sensor is already supported in ArduSub for use on the BlueROV2 and other ArduSub vehicles!

That’s it for today!

New Products! 6″ Series and 8″ Series Aluminum End Caps and 2″ Series Tube

Hole-y moley! We are pleased to announce the latest addition to the Watertight Enclosure Series: 6″ Series and 8″ Series Aluminum End Caps with more holes! We’re also excited to announce a new 2″ Series Aluminum Tube with the greatest depth rating we’ve ever offered on an enclosure.

The 6″ Series now has a 15-hole end cap option, and the 8″ Series now has 15-hole and 25-hole options. These are perfect for projects where you need a lot of cable connections for a lot of sensors or other equipment. If you don’t need all of the holes, you can use blank penetrators to fill them in. We think these new end cap options are pretty cap-tivating 😉

Next up is a 5.9″, 150 mm Aluminum Tube for the 2″ Enclosure Series. The tubes were successfully tested in the #Crushinator to 1000 m, which is the currently rated depth. However, they’re designed to handle quite a bit more (potentially up to 2900m depth) but we don’t have an easy way to test that. These new tubes are available as an option for the 2″ Watertight Enclosure Series now!

That’s it for today!

New Products! BlueROV2 Electronics Enclosure and Fairing

They say it’s your birthday?! Well it’s the BlueROV2’s birthday, too, yeah! Today we are celebrating the BlueROV2’s first cycle around the sun with the release of two of its components: the Electronics Enclosure and the Fairing.

The Beatles with their two favorite underwater vehicles (probably).

BlueROV2 Enclosure

Are you building an ROV with a custom frame but wish you had all the brains of the BlueROV2? That is now possible! The BlueROV2 Enclosure comes with all of the electronics included in the Advanced Electronics Kit, as well as 6 pre-wired BlueROV2 Basic 30A ESCs.

BlueROV2 Fairing

If you’re looking to protect your buoyancy foam in the same fashion as the BlueROV2, we’ve got you covered! These fairings are made of polycarbonate and come with 4 screws to attach to your vehicle.

That’s it for today everyone! Be sure to check our social media for special news! 😉

New Product: Lithium Battery Charger!

Hey there, friends! We’ve got an energizing new product today- a Lithium Battery Charger perfect for our high capacity Lithium-ion Battery (14.8V, 18Ah)! This 300W charger can charge at up to 20A, so it can charge our battery in 1-2 hours at the recommended 10A charge rate, while still having plenty of headroom for even larger batteries.

This charger can be powered by 100-240V AC wall power, or a 10-28V DC power supply, so it has plenty of flexibility wherever you may be. With built in balancing and discharge capability, your batteries of any chemistry can safely be kept in top condition for maximum performance and lifespan!

That’s it for today!

If you have any thoughts, please join the related discussion on our forums here!

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New Products: Watertight Enclosures and Basic ESC

Hello everyone! Today we’ve got enormous news for you. We are proudly introducing the 6″ Series and 8″ Series Watertight Enclosures! We’ve also got a new version of the Basic ESC.

6″ and 8″ Series Watertight Enclosures

We’re delighted to expand the line-up of watertight enclosures. These larger enclosures are perfect for those of you who need to keep a lot of stuff dry! We’re looking at you, AUVSI teams 😉 As with the rest of the enclosure series, the housings will be configurable and customizable with both aluminum and acrylic end cap options. Custom length tubes won’t be readily available, but don’t hesitate to let us know if you have a specific need. All of the components are available separately – the possibilities are nearly end(cap)less! Okay, that was a bit of a stretch…

The 6″ Series enclosures are rated to 65m and the 8″ Series enclosures are rated to 40m. We decided to measure their capacity by stuffing them with one of our favorite things: T100 Thrusters. You may also be able to spy a 3″ aluminum battery tube inside the 8″ enclosure.

6″ Enclosure (left) and 8″ Enclosure (right).

New Version of the Basic ESC

As you may have heard, the manufacturer of the Afro 30Amp ESC has ceased production of the model we currently sell, so we’ve been forced to switch to a slightly smaller version. We’ve added a heatsink to allow for the same current-handling capability. This version also have bare power leads instead of male 3.5mm bullet connectors.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading and please let us know if you have any questions or comments. There is a discussion thread available related to this post on our forums.

New Products: 3″ Series and 4″ Series Aluminum Tubes!

Hey there, friends! We are deeply excited to announce today’s new product: aluminum tubes for the 3″ Series and 4″ Series Watertight Enclosures. These aluminum tubes have significantly greater depth ratings, better heat transfer to the water, and a hard anodized black finish. Both tubes are bored out from the inside for optimal wall thickness and to reduce the enclosure weight. The 3″ Series tube is rated for 500 meters (1640 ft) and the 4″ Series is rated for 400 meters (1312 ft).

Both tubes are available now (in fairly limited quantity initially) separately and as options in the watertight enclosure configuration pages.

Please note that the 3″ Series tube is 8.75″ long, just like the battery tube on the BlueROV2. Both of these tubes are drop in replacements for the enclosure tubes on the BlueROV2. We’ll get into more details on that once we’ve done more testing at depth!

2D drawing showed the bored out inside diameter to decrease weight and optimize depth rating.

As you may have seen on our social media, we have a new pressure test chamber, the #Crushinator!! The Crushinator will be able to reach pressures equivalent to 1000 meters underwater and will take our products to a whole new level of performance, reliability, and integrity. It can fit an entire BlueROV2 inside for testing!

Last week, we took a prototype aluminum 3″ Series enclosure to about 750m before imploding. That’s nearly 5 times the depth rating of the clear acrylic enclosure! Check out The Crushinator’s first victim below. RIP.

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New Product: The Water Linked Underwater GPS System!

Today we have a very special new product announcement. We’re partnering with Water Linked, a Norwegian company, and announcing the release of a revolutionarily low-cost Underwater GPS system. This new product, the Water Linked Underwater GPS Developer Kit combines a traditional GPS receiver and compass with an acoustic positioning system to provide positioning information underwater. We think this technology will be revolutionary to how we use ROVs.

We’re partnering with Water Linked as their first and only distributor for this system, and it will also be supported out of the box in ArduSub and the BlueROV2.

The Technology

The Water Linked positioning uses something called Short Baseline (SBL) acoustic positioning. Basically, the ROV has locator beacon that sends out an acoustic pulse. Near the surface, there are four receiver hydrophones lowered into the water. The hydrophones listen for the pulse from the locator beacon and use difference in the time-of-arrival to each receiver to triangulate the ROV’s position. SBL systems, compared to the USBL systems more often used on ROVs, have the advantage of working well in shallow water and noisy acoustic environments, such as in a fish cage.

Once the position is known relative to the receivers, the global position can be found by adding that to the position obtained by a GPS receiver. The Water Linked Underwater GPS system does that part internally so that it can provide the actual global position of the ROV as it’s output.

Why It’s Important

The addition of position information when operating an ROV or other marine robotic vehicle is a big change. It means that photos from inspections can be geotagged, targets with known coordinates can be found easily, and ROV can even be programmed to do autonomous actions, such as holding position in a current or following a set of GPS waypoints.

The Water Linked Underwater GPS Developer Kit

Today were launching the Underwater GPS system in a kit that includes all of the required hardware. The software is in a functional state already, but will be improved quite a bit over the next few months. That includes the addition of a well-documented API, performance improvements, and added features. The system includes everything you need to get started – check out the individual product pages for more details, datasheets, and info.

Orders can be placed today but please note that the first systems won’t ship until about June 15th of this year.

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Customer Spotlight: Fort Lewis College USV

By: Elisa M., Blue Robotics

We often hear about the lack of clean water in third world countries, but the issue becomes much more relevant when it hits close to home. For residents of the United States, the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan has raised awareness and has influenced countless investigations of other water sources. We might assume water source monitoring is a given – especially when not done properly, the effects have potential to cause serious health issues for surrounding communities. The disaster has called attention to neglected water infrastructure nationwide, and with this new understanding comes new solutions to solving these problems.

Poor water infrastructure is not the only cause of water pollution; sometimes accidents happen. In 2015, while working on a project to treat the water of the Cement Creek in Colorado, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers accidentally released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste. Fortunately, city managers were able to shunt off the reservoir in time to avoid contamination. The event motivated students at nearby Fort Lewis College to develop a robotic system capable of effective and efficient aquatic monitoring, just in case a similar accident were to happen without any obvious signs that would allow for a quick reaction.

Kayakers in the Animas River near Durango, Colorado, after the spill. Credit: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP

Jacob Anderson and his classmates designed a network of autonomous surface vehicles (ASVs) to continuously monitor the water quality and quantity in the City of Durango’s water reservoir. They created the hulls for three vehicles, Jacob explained. “The plan is to have a vehicle patrol each of the two water inlets to the reservoir and the outfall to the water treatment plant.” The vehicles were built with a number of off the shelf products, including an Arduino Mega for control, an Adafruit Breakout V3 GPS and IMU for navigation, communication through a Particle Electron board, and propulsion with Blue Robotics T200s.

The ASVs collect data regarding the physical properties, including pH levels, temperature, and salinity. The information is reported in near real time to local resource managers and is also publicly accessible. This allows for a quick response time to quality concerns, and also encourages public engagement through educational outreach and citizen scientist programs. Jacob and his team “created ASVs instead of sensor nodes so that [they] can also use them for robotics research while monitoring the reservoir. Fort Lewis College is starting a robotics and computer engineering program, so the hope is that future students will be using these vehicles as part of their college education.”

1 of 3 ASVs, equipped with T200s.

As we continue to alter our planet, water quality monitoring becomes more and more essential. With the use of marine robotic vehicles, we become better equipped to prevent such environmental disasters and clean water becomes a much more achievable goal. Clean water for everyone!

For more on Jacob’s project, check out the following link and the following paper, which goes into much more detail!

Networked Autonomous Surface Vehicles for Reservoir Monitoring

Jacob Anderson, Katherine Clark, Jake Faust, Joey Sandoval, Kenneth Tozer III, Eric Hall, Brandon Belcher, Ryan N. Smith, “Development of an Aquatic, Multi-Robot Testbed System for Algorithm Development and Validation”, MTS/IEEE Oceans, Monterey, CA. 2016

Are you doing something sweet with your Blue Robotics components? Tell us about it! We love seeing and sharing what our customers are doing with our products!