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Oakland Girls Underwater Robot Camp October

October 1 2014
Over the first two weekends of October, I am inviting 5 girls to join together, build an ROV, and take it on a micro expedition in the Bay Area. The first weekend we'll build the robot and begin expedition planning. The following weekend we'll go out into the world armed with our robot and explore. Ladies, you already have the confidence and capabilities to be engineers and explorers, let's prove it.

October 1 2014


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Debriefing Stage

The future of exploration is bright,
When daughters teach fathers.


The amazing and very promising new generation...things are in safe hands ;) Keep up the great work!

Mission Underway

The girls change out the batteries on Mantis after an hour of diving.


Hi Erika, we love your work and commitment it's inspiring! I was wondering if you were already able to successfully run the batteries until 2 hours?

Welcome to mission control!

With a little help from my friends, i've taken over a corner of the beach to create a mobile ROV "control van" which is made up of:

A 12 volt deep cycle marine battery
An inverter
An extension cable
A power strip
A laptop
A large computer monitor
A complete field tool kit
And Three ROVs

Let's explore


Hey sounds great! How things are going on so far? I hope you made it easily as the 1st time it's always tricky! Keep up the great work! Cheers!

Expedition morning our new ROV Mantis gets a final leak test.

Submarine trick, put one sealed end of the tube in soapy water and use a pump to pull a vaccuum from the other side. If there is a leak on the submerged side, bubbles are a very obvious indicator for exactly where the leak is coming from.

Mantis was leak free! Nice construction job ladies!


No new info here, just a photo of Mantis in the test pool!


A successful first water test!

Dive Plan:

Find out how deep Lake Anza's bottom is?


Lake Anza Exploration: GURC

Sunrise: 7:15
Sunset: 6:35
Air Temp: 86 F
Wind Speed: 7 MPH
Humidity: 50%
Precipitation: 0%
Percentage of Shinigami Sighting: 64% (after deep collaborative thinking)


The tether has a tendency to become tangled until all of the twists of manufacturing are spun out. N and G uncoil the brand new tether and walk all 100 meters around the property a number of times to detangle the length of the tether.


The camera cable from the HD webcam is designed to reach from the top of a computer monitor all the way to the usb plug on the computer itself. In our case, the cable only needs to reach a few inches.

Instead of trying to fit all the excess cable into the pressure housing, D cuts the length of the cable down to a custom size and solders the fine wires together. She shielded the cable with extra pieces of foil and recovers the joint with heat shrink.


Once the wire bundle is epoxied into the wire pass through on the Main Endcap, one of the last steps to completing the ROV is to solder on a DB-25 connector. This solder job is time intensive and requires a steady set of hands with the soldering iron. K and N work together to run each wire into its respective place on the connector and solder it into place.


Stay tuned! Next saturday we'll put Mantis in the test tank here at Head Quarters and develop a plan for our Sunday expedition.


We ended the afternoon by finishing the battery pod adaptors, building the topside adaptor, and filling up the final epoxy seals.


We also used lunch time to discuss the best design for a scooping device to install on Mantis. G took our design to the drawing board. I'll laser cut their design this week and they will install it next saturday when we water test Mantis for the first time.


A very important part of any busy day, lunch.

Lunch conversation very quickly became a brain storming session for what kind of expeditions Mantis could go on. Including but not limited to Hawaii, Catalina Island, and Papua New Guinea.


Contrary to popular stereotypes, the praying mantis did not phase the girls of GURC, but it did inspire a name for ROV #1500.


Just before lunch we were called away from our busy build schedule due to the enormous bug which crawled up on the desk.


Day 2 of Robot Camp

Our morning pilot challenge started with a task of picking up a ziptie ring sitting at the bottom of the test tank which quickly proved too easy. The girls devised for themselves a new pilot challenge involving grabbing a floating octopus, carrying it across the pool and submerging without loosing it, and placing it into a weighted basket at the bottom of the pool.

I never would have come up with such a thing. It was ΓΌber challenging and an absolute blast.


The wire pass through on the starboard side Main Endcap is the point where the external wires leading to the IMU and motors cross into the water tight electronics compartment.

To make the pass through itself water tight, we apply a liquid two part epoxy into the space between the wires to seal them against the intrusion of water. K uses a special mixing nozzle to apply the epoxy and then we let it cure overnight.


Soldering is a critical part of building an OpenROV. After mastering the skill in the morning, K used the afternoon to teach others other how to make a clean solder joint.

The key is a hot iron. Set the soldering iron in place, heat up your part, THEN bring the solder to the joint. K describes the process to D, focusing on the idea that the iron is not a paintbrush. If everything is sufficiently hot, the solder will flow into place on its own.


To install the motor bases onto the frame, a small c-clip needs to be removed from the the back of each. Talk about fine motor skills.

Har de har har.


The wire leads that come attached to our electric motors are too short to run into the electronics housing. Each motor is pulled apart and new long wire leads are soldered in place.


Acrylic solvent is not glue. Rather, it dissolves the surface of an acrylic part and hardens about 10 seconds later as it evaporates. If two surfaces are held together they re-solidify as one. For this reason, we call this acrylic welding as opposed to acrylic glueing.

The acrylic solvent flows more freely than water and will drain out of the syringe if the user does not create a vacuum inside the bottle as they pour. It takes some practice to create this vacuum in the applicator syringe, but these ladies were pros in minutes.


Day 1 of Robot Camp

Five awesome girls rolled into OpenROV Head Quarters bright and early this morning to build a robot! Our laser cutting specialist @marius set aside ROV hull number 1500 for our weekend camp. Momentous!

Everyone loves paperwork, so we started with liability release forms and skill survey questionnaires, then we moved on to a piloting challenge in the test tank with Phantom.

Here was our guiding white board for the day:

Preparation Stage

Inspire a Girl who inspires you! Sign her up for Girls Underwater Robot Camp

Expedition Background

Registration open to all girls ages 13-17 on EventBrite:

$125 per participant


October 4th and 5th - 9:30 - 3:30
Gather at OpenROV Head Quarters in Berkeley, CA to construct ROV.

October 11th and 12th - 9:30 - 3:30
Meet at OpenROV Head Quarters to Test and Calibrate ROV. Plan micro expedition.
Meet at OpenROV Head Quarters and go explore.

Lunch will be provided for each of the 4 days.

About the Camp Mentor:

Erika Bergman is a submersible pilot and a National Geographic Explorer

Check out this Arctic Girls Underwater Robot Camp to find out what's in store!


Cool project Erika! Hope that lots of girls will be attending, if I were in the US and a girl I would attend :)

Thanks Thunderstorm! You could run one with your mad OpenROV skills!

Aloha Erika, Did you ever receive my email about coming to Lanai, Hawaii to do a workshop? We would love to have you come and do a workshop!!

@ktighump send me another email erika @ openrov dot com