Submersible ROV for the Trondheim Maker Faire 2014

For the Maker Faire coming to Trondheim later this month, I’m currently building a simple submersible remotely operated vehicle. The concept is based on a plumbing tube used for the housing and submersible electric pumps as motors. A Raspberry Pi with Camera Module will deliver the live video feed via ethernet cable. The remote control is managed via a serial link to a Teensy 3.1 with sensors and motor controllers. The communication will be implemented using MAVLink, which enables the use of the QGroundControl station.

Outer Housing - Testing Outer Housing - with Ballast

After initially testing whether the tube could sustain the pressure at up to 12m water depth, pieces are now falling into place. The serial communication via MAVLink works and just needs a little performance tweaking. It can transmit the manual controls from a game-pad down to the ROV controller and the telemetry back up to the ground station. Telemetry data consists of air-pressure and temperature in the body (MPL115A2) as well as orientation data gathered from the IMU/AHRS (MPU-9150). The ground station visualises the temperature and pressure as line-graphs and uses the orientation information for an artificial horizon.

Inner Housing - View on Motor Controllers Inner Housing - View on PiCam and Raspberry Pi

The plumbing tube of the housing is sealed with two acrylic-glass windows. One 6mm one in front of the camera and three 4mm layers in the rear end. The three layers form tunnels for the cables going out to the motors and up to the ground control station. I hope with plenty of silicone this will be water tight.

Outer Housing - Frontview Outer Casing - Channels in the Backplate

If anyone has a good idea how to set up a basin/pool to demonstrate the ROV in, let me know.
Four weeks to go! :-)

DIY Honda CR-V Replacement Clock

As the dashboard clock of my car failed recently, I was looking for a replacement.
Instead of buying an original part, I opted for a DIY solution based on a cheap Arduino Pro Mini 328, a mini real-time-clock (RTC) module, and a 8×2 LCD display:

Clock Prototype on Breadboard LCD Panel with Buttons

The Arduino and the RTC module talk via I2C and the LCD uses a 4bit wide parallel interface. The LCD backlight can be switched between two intensities. It is wired to two Arduino pins at the same time, one directly and the other via a 1k resistor. The LCD draw less then 40mA. As shorting two pins can be rather dangerous for the MCU, the software needs to ensure that the inactive pin is set to high-impedance input mode before the other one is set active.

The Internals of the Dashboard Clock The new Arduino based Dashboard Clock

The initial firmware implements setting the time and manual dimming for the night. As the car-connector also offers a 12V wire indicating when the main-lights are turned on, I could add automatic dimming later on.