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New Speedy Propeller tests in Lake Tahoe

June 14 2012
This expedition has two main goals. We're headed to South Lake Tahoe to test out a new vertical propeller and new control programming. I also want to start creating checklists for the behind the scenes aspects of expedition planning and operations. Have some ROV bits you want to test out? or just want to escape from the city for the weekend? Join Us. OpenInvitation

June 14 2012


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Debriefing Stage

Here's some video from our Expedition Weekend!

Fantastic video of the expedition! It was great to follow along with all the adventures on here!

Am liking the Video, however why would one add this crappy-looking "vintage" look to it? Keep up with the good work and share some more great videos (hopefully without filters applied to it :) )

Thanks! I'm happy you like my videos! The filter is part of the free app I make the movies on. I'll see if I can make the next one , just for you!

Thanks Erika! Keep up with the Good work and as always have fun with the ROV!

Excellent video!

Mission Underway

The sun was newly up and the wind was howling at 15 knots.

Gusts from the southeast stirred up a good chop on the water, but we made the decision to head out one last time to answer a final question.

How deep can a standard 2.6 kit ROV go?

We had a simple mission, to deploy ROV #666, an off-the-shelf 2.6 ROV with no modifications or upgrades, to a full tether length and confirm its operational depth.

The wind was coming at us in gusts so we made our way well east of our target depth of 100 meters. We knew the wind would quickly blow us back into shallow water, so we gave ourselves a good margin by deploying the ROV in 200 meters of water.

We zip tied a 1 lb. clump weight to the aft bar on the underside of the ROV so that it would descend quickly.

We deployed the bot and payed out the tether quickly with an ingenious three person method to avoid tangles. The boat drifted as we expected, but using the motor we held station directly above the tether to get ROV #666 as deep as possible.


Eric holds up ROV #666 which dove to 87 meters without a hitch!


Effective AND stylish!

Early morning at Lake Tahoe.

Woke up 5.00 this morning, went to the lake to see the sunrise and returned to a cabin full of excited people eager to do a depth test with the #666

Erika, Eric and I went out in the crew boat - quite windy, but we're waterproof.

Got the #666 down to 87 meters, didn't want to push it further since we were drifting towards shallow water.

Pics are coming!

Also Domenik did some cool stuff with his ROV today - stay tuned:)


Our boat crew warming up after a trip out on the lake. It was very windy and they got a bit wet


Wow, we're just back from a night dive with ROV #463

It was my first dive with my ROV in the open water and it happened to be a night dive too!

Some trimming of the buoyancy to be done and see why I had some drops of water in my electronics tube and starboard battery tube.

Follow my ROV on twitter for updates: ROV #463


So much exploration just happened!!

After our morning dives we headed out of the wind and up to the cabin to update software bugs, charge batteries (human and ROV) and have dinner.

At 2200 hours we re-deployed for a night dive on the sunken sailboat!

The hero of the evening was Dominik's ROV #463 which dove on the wreck for over an hour. See #463 pictured here inside the wreck!

You can also follow along with this little bot's adventures on twitter @rov463

Two brave scuba divers jumped in with alacrity to take some photos of the sub on the wreck.

Meanwhile the surface support crew bundled up against the cold evening winds to deploy the robot and manage the tether. There may have been a lot of know, to keep warm.


It was my first time at Lake Tahoe and I had an awesome time there! Everything was beautiful and I got to help test an ROV!

I was only there for the morning test on Sunday but what an experience.

Below is a panoramic shot of how gorgeous it was in the morning. That was Eric's pontoon boat that we went out on.

Eric and I got in the water at around 8 am and we had a good four hour run before the winds got too strong. Even during that time, Eric had a hard time since we kept drifting from the spot we wanted to be in. This meant he had to constantly paddle to get us in the exact area. It didn't help that the tether got tangled too!

Although I didn't get to control it I had a blast. I got excited every time we deployed the ROV and it dove down. I also got excited whenever I saw it doing its thing underwater.


The expedition team is napping as I sit on the front porch, elated from the days activities. Walt got his autopilot working within an acceptable tolerance. Get to your desired depth, push a button, and the ROV just hovers there!

Erika has been hard at work piloting the ROV's as well as acting as logistics manager. I have gotten some great diving in and am learning more than I can handle in a day.

Below is a photo of Erika hard at work and a video of the ROV's initial dive. Descended down to 12 meters and said "hello"!


Hanging out in the living room of our cabin watching footage from our dives earlier today. It's very nice to recap while the mission's still underway!


The morning is full of surprises!

0930 Launch surface support vessel. Paddle out 200 feet from shore.

0937 ROV is deployed.

0957 ROV is searching lake bottom.

We're searching for the sunken sailboat which should be in 20 meters of water.

1000 Haul in ROV and move to new location.

1012 Re-deploy ROV

1014 Dive Dive Dive

Searching....searching...found some logs...

1022 WHOA Jaguar shark?!


iPad control??

Is it a juvenile Mackinaw trout?

Is there a biologist in the house?

Unfortunately, not iPad control. Which would be rad. But Dominik's laptop is touch screen. The displayed buttons were functional but not super user friendly.

Sunrise was 0537 this morning, by 0630 we were down at the beach prepping the surface support vessel for launch.

Our 12 foot, heavy duty inflatable is outfitted with a Honda 15 hp four stroke motor, a danforth anchor, and the electronics package for ROV data Tx.

The giant black pole attached to the stern is the mounting bracket for the omni-direction antenna.


Erika looks like a natural explorer as she gets up on Eric's Previa van to check for lights on the wi-fi bridge


Wow, we're just back from a night dive with ROV #463

It was my first dive with my ROV in the open water and it happened to be a night dive too!

Some trimming of the buoyancy to be done and see why I had some drops of water in my electronics tube and starboard battery tube.

Follow my ROV on twitter for updates: ROV #463


We have arrived!

Seven of us left OpenROV head quarters in Berkeley and hit the road yesterday at 1500 hours, only 30 minutes behind schedule!

The first thing we did upon arrival was set up our Mobile Command Center in the cabin to test the ethernet bridge.

So here's the deal with an ethernet bridge. It consists of two antennas, each one can transmit (Tx) and receive (Rx) at an operating frequency of 5170 MHz.

Our sector antenna is mounted at the mobile command center, whether that's in a cabin or the back of a van. It spans a 90 degree angle horizontally and a 12 degree vertical sector. This means that it must be pointed quite close to the dive site.

On the surface support vessel an omni-directional antenna is plugged straight into the ROV data stream. The omni-directional antenna then TRANSMITS OpenROV Cockpit and Controls straight to the ROV pilot at command central on shore! Whaaaaat, So cool.


Oh man!! This photo makes me super sad to be missing this.

We'll make a cardboard cutout of you David, and put you in all the photos. Like the little gnome in the movie Amelie.

Thanks for posting the facebook. That's super jazzy.

Stocking up on Supplies for the expedition


You guys rock!

Provisioning is arguably the most important job on any expedition...

Another first:

Zoe's deploying her ROV!
She has to finish some things on it, but it got wet and was racing around the test tank!


A day of many firsts!

After a quick test run last night ROV #463 finally for its maiden flight in the OpenROV HQ test tank!

All went well! Hooray!

Another first: We're about to go to the expedition to lake Tahoe, another first for me!


-Deep cycle Batteries are charged for our mobile command central (Eric's van).

-Checklists are checked.

-Packing is underway.

Plus, we had two inaugural tank tests for new ROVs yesterday!

#463 and #1074 are ready for action.


Hey team, Here are the some environmental parameters I wanted to give everyone easy access to before we head out tomorrow.


We have so many things going on during this Tahoe trip. So many people are jumping on board to come out and explore!

We've got engineering tests,
Motor control tests,
New camera and ESC testing,
Newly built ROVs going in for their inaugural dives,
Some scuba divers who want to jump in and film the bots in action,

Not to mention exploring a sunken sailboat!

Here's a rough dive plan template, I'll be posting it as a template to blog as well, so you can download it and fill it in for your own expedition.


Here's the dive plan.

Will someone let me know if you can open and view this file on

Dive Plan

Just getting ROV #463 ready in time for the next expedition!

Cure Expoxy - Cure!

Preparation Stage

After delving deep into the Lake Tahoe chart last night, Eric, Walt, and I came up with two potential dive sites for Sunday's engineering tests.

The first is off the northwestern shore of Lake Tahoe on the southwestern edge of Flick Point.

1) Beach Access
2) Potential shipwreck target

1) It's shallow. Depth is between 14 and 21 meters near to shore.
2) No contacts in the area to hook into an internet server.

The second is Hurricane Bay.

1) We know where there's a small but sufficiently interesting sailboat wreck.
2) We have a friendly neighborhood internet connection.

1) The thick tree line between the internet enabled cabin and the lake may be too thick for the ethernet bridge to function.

We are also considering Emerald Bay for Sunday or Monday testing.

Have any thoughts on what you'd like to explore in Tahoe?