Exploring the Depths with the OpenROV submarine robot

The SciFund Challenge
College Station, Texas
Open Access
Raised of $1,004 Goal
Ended on 3/07/14
Campaign Ended
  • $246
  • 25%
  • Finished
    on 3/07/14

About This Project

Young learners build interest in STEM studies through hands-on learning. Our students are working on underwater animal and plant studies of Central Texas fresh-water springs and Gulf coast reef systems. We're raising funding so these young researchers can equip an OpenROV to dive deep and explore our reefs and rivers!

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What is the context of this research?

Our students, male and female, are predominantly High School and early-College age and studying various types of STEM-related studies in their pre-Collegiate term. Through past #SciFund Challenge events, our students have advanced their study of high-performance computing (Supercomputers),tested underwater solar energy generation, and created 3D Printed materials for personalized education using open source hardware and software elements, sharing the results of their works and designs for others to use in their own local programs.

We have been constructing Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for underwater exploration using the SeaPerch design shared by MIT's students, but these systems are limited to the depth of swimming pools and cannot dive deep enough to perform the studies our students are planning for the Summer term. With your help, our students will construct an OpenROV kit capable of deeper submergence (~90 ft) and a greater range of actions underwater.

Like all past rounds of the #SciFund Challenge, we will continue to share our experiences and any new equipment designs we create openly using the Thing-I-Verse and Instructables file sharing sites, social media like our Twitter feed (@STEMulateOrg) and through Blog posts for educators and parents on our http://STEMulate.org blog.

What is the significance of this project?

Pre-College exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects by young learners builds interest in later University STEM degrees and areas of employment like robotics. We have been building a collection of technologies our students can use to explore the world and discover their own personal areas of interest, sharing the results of our workshops with educators and interested students. We use inexpensive open source solutions for our lessons to ensure portability beyond the public schools we are working with in the US, EU, AU and Asia-Pacific and South African regions.

Our existing SeaPerch ROVs are allowing students to develop an understanding of submerged robotics using off-the-shelf hardware and electronics, basic electronic circuits for control and navigation, and simple construction techniques. We are limited in exploration or student research due to the Sea Perch design's physical structure, which compresses and causes them to fall uncontrollably beyond 18 feet depth. The OpenROV design allows controlled descent to almost 90 feet - well within visible range of freshwater and littoral (near-shore) salt water regions along the Texas Gulf Coast.

What are the goals of the project?

If we meet our basic goal and obtain an OpenROV kit, our students will be able to study more complex robotic control systems by exploring submerged areas of Texas shoreline reefs and inland waterways. We have permission for extended studies of spring-fed waterways with submerged dinosaur tracks along the Sabinal River in Central Texas this coming summer thanks to private supporters.

If we reach our initial goal, our stretch goal will be for an underwater video camera to record our student's explorations and share them via our YouTube channel. Our current ROV designs provide a live feed to the robot operator but cannot capture video for later review.


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Our initial goal is to obtain an OpenROV Kit (base v2.6 kit $849 + directional and depth gauge $80 = $929), for which the Microryza costs are 8% (5% for managing the site, 3% for transaction fees), so the total goal for equipment will be $1004 USD.

If this goal is met, we will then try to obtain a stretch goal of a waterproof GoPro high-def camera capable of taking underwater video during the ROV's explorations ($399 for the camera, which includes the waterproof case for submerged operation up to 90 feet + Microryza's fees of $32 = $431 USD).

Funds raised beyond our target goals would be used for additional memory cards, batteries and similar consumables for extended experiments unless we reach enough surplus to acquire additional sets of OpenROV+GoPro equipment, which would be used to expand the summer program's capacity.

If any of our supporters donates the funds for a complete robot kit, we will name and brand the ROV according to the donor's specification (content must be child-appropriate and under licensed use).

We are only crowd-funding additional equipment to expand our current program - all instructional personnel, land access and transportation costs are being provided by our existing supporters and volunteers.

Endorsed by

I've worked with Kalani Kirk Hausman through multiple rounds of the #SciFund Challenge, where his action as a curator and promoter of #SciFund were valuable to all of us! I'm excited to see his newest project involves the Texas coastline and oceans, a place where I do some of my own work.
I met my husband in Dr. Hausman's Stemulate Learning program working with many types of robots but my husband loves this kind. Wish we were still there for the OpenRov to arrive! It would make a lot of new things possible. Bring it on down if you can. Beautiful fish in the water here.
OpenROV is more than just the robot - it's one node in a growing network of citizen ocean explorers. I can't wait to see what Kalani and his group discover!

Meet the Team

Kalani Kirk Hausman
Kalani Kirk Hausman

Team Bio

I am currently at Texas A&M University as an Assistant Commandant working with the Aggie Corps of Cadets, but I also teach students cyber technology, enterprise architecture, networking and cyber security for the American Public University and the University of Maryland. The STEMulate Learning program is designed to build pre-Collegiate interest in STEM subjects and was created to assist public school educators lacking significant external resources. What began in local Texas has expanded to other States (NY, HI, AZ, CA, CO, NM, WA) and also participating educators in other countries (AU, UK, FR, SA, Singapore) - STEMulate Learning research is performed using low-cost or free open source equipment, hardware and software designs. Our work is shared using the open Thing-I-Verse file sharing site and various social media services for others to take advantage of locally. I am also an author and recently completed "3D Printing for Dummies" where I discussed the SOLID Learning workshops.

Press and Media

#SciFund Project Links
"Exploring the Depths with OpenROV" website: http://www.ExploringTheDepths.org
Related Project Images: http://imgur.com/a/U63hU#0
STEMulate Learning website: http://www.STEMulate.org

Project Social Media
FaceBook "Explore the Depths": https://www.facebook.com/explorethedepths
Google+ "Exploring the Depths": https://google.com/+ExploringTheDepthsOrgWithOpenROV
@STEMulateOrg Twitter: https://twitter.com/STEMulateOrg
"Exploring the depths with OpenROV" on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQTZu-cGDbA

Reference Content
The creators of OpenROV at World Maker Faire 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPFHjh7mbhk
OpenROV in Edition 34 of the MAKE magazine: http://makezine.com/volume/make-34/
OpenROV at the Aquarius Reef Base underwater lab: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvzyWk4lMc8
Exploring a Lake Tahoe shipwreck using OpenROV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noTsGnQD8Go
OpenROV at the Aquarium of the Pacific: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiM1muFOqok
SCUBA divers meet OpenROV in a lake dive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEORLqd4FrE
Exploring under the Ice using OpenROV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CbixJ_p1mc
OpenROV exploring Tulum cavern: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkfJh0es_J8

Learning Modules about the Sea Perch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxL44TixvEU&list=PL...

Cover art, courtesy of OpenROV at the NASA NEEMO-16 Space Apps Challenge via Jason J. Duley of NASA.gov and Flickr (SpaceAppsChallenge)

Additional Information

Support Rewards:
Fund $10 or more
Personalized e-mail thank-you and regular updates on our workshops and the Summer 2014 STEM program. These updates will be included at every level.
Fund $25 or more
Recognition of your support by name on our website.
Fund $50 or more
A 3D Printed 1" plastic OpenROV model in a random color.
Fund $100 or more
A larger 3D Printed plastic OpenROV model in Blue (like the original OpenROV design).
Fund $250 or more
A larger 3D Printed plastic OpenROV model in transparent plastic with an internal multi-color LED illuminator.
Fund $500 or more
You will be acknowledged by name as a "contributor" on our website and have your name displayed on the partner board at the Summer program's workshops. A photograph of your name on the board will be provided.
Fund $1,000 or more
Acknowledgement as a "donor" on our website and our partner board. I will join you and your class or makerspace in a discussion of ROV construction and other Maker educational subjects on a Google+ hangout, and identify you by name on the OpenROV with a photo of this robot provided.
Fund $1,435 or more
Acknowledgement as a "sponsor" for the named OpenROV on our website and partner board. I will name an ROV as you desire (appropriate for children, and not offensive to our diverse population) and allow you to supply personal art or corporate branding/logos to be used on the OpenROV's outer case in public display. (We can use more than one OpenROV+Camera during our summer programs, so this is an unlimited opportunity, additional equipment will be shared across multiple groups for cooperative workshops.)

As soon as you make a pledge, we'll contact you about receiving your reward.

Please visit our blog (http://STEMulate.org), which includes details of ongoing STEM workshops and the 3D Printed educational model we are developing (http://SOLIDLearning.org). Results from our earlier #SciFund Challenge rounds are still producing data each week, and shared via Twitter (https://twitter.com/STEMulateOrg/).

Our high-performance computing (HPC) node is still supporting the World Community Grid in the search for solutions to global challenges (searches for fresh water sources, clean energy, medicines and treatments for diseases like Leishmaniasis and Malaria). Since this small supercomputing node was first made possible in the original #SciFund Challenge, the crowd-funded equipment has provided almost 50 years of combined CPU power towards these solutions and currently ranks in the top 1,050 contributors worldwide (out of almost a quarter-million contributors). This resource provides an ongoing example for teachers and students each week of the power of citizen science and crowd-funded open resources!

I will continue to post images from our ROV-focused workshops on the #SciFund Imgur site (http://imgur.com/a/U63hU/all) and have created a home site for this project at: http://www.ExploringTheDepths.org

Project Backers

  • 9Backers
  • 25%Funded
  • $246Total Donations
  • $27.33Average Donation
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