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Swim with Bluefin Tuna

August 15 2015
What would we do with an OpenROV? Why swim with schools of feeding Bluefin Tuna, of course!!! We are excited to be competing for the chance to own our very own OpenROV, and take it on ocean adventures in Prince Edward Island, Canada. We aim to set the OpenROV down in with the giant Bluefin Tuna, capture the diving Gannets as they dip 60 ft below the surface to spear Mackerel, explore lobsters on the ocean floor, and give fishermen a chance to glimpse their catch in nature. And that’s just the beginning... As a family of 6, we have 4 excited kids eager to explore the ocean depths, a teacher mom, and a robot-tech dad. Show us your love with a FOLLOW, and in turn we will show you the excitement of the Land Under the Sea.

August 15 2015


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Preparation Stage

And now we have a bus puppet :)

It seems stopping at a simple adventure bus didn't happen, and we have added a fun, quirky element: a Kraken puppet.

The video can be seen here:

The instructable here:

Just to make you smile :)


As we move past the bus project, and on to the adventures it will lead us on, I just wanted to share our Instructable on how you too can build a similar vehicle.

What stated with a roll of our eyes has turned into something we cherish, and the mindset it has generated.

Time to gas up and turn the key!


In case you missed our maiden voyage and some of the footage we captured...enjoy our little visit back to the 70's :)


Just amazing.

Really awesome!

Along with a new bus, we have a new logo.

Thanks to our awesome designer Andreea who we met over at Fiverr. Her work always makes us smile for it's clever simplicity and impactful appeal. Thanks for all you create for us Andreea!!

We tend to get a lot of bus questions. Half of them are: Is it good on gas?

No. It is not at all good on gas. It is however great on multi-aged family bonding experiences, great on hotel costs, amazing on healthy eating on the road, and endless fun to just drive around. Gas...not so much.

It's also not good on maintenance expenses, and unexpected fixes. Picture it needs a special mechanic since it's diesel, and the weight of it means it can't go on traditional vehicle lifts. Did I mention all the family bonding it's pretty amazing with?? ;)

One of the unexpected benefits was the experience of DIY. We could have purchased an RV, but we have been impressed with the personal investment we each have with the bus, having done it ourselves. The kids took ownership for a ton of cleaning along the way, ideas, and contributed creativity. Having an outlet for your kids to be creative is invaluable. Sure we drive around a giant squid, and it really is awesomer than we ever expected.

In truth, we will likely be selling The Kraken. Not because we dislike it, but because we LOVE it. We are interested in a newer vehicle that is going to last longer, one with less miles, and one with perhaps a built in bathroom. It won't happen any time soon, but it's clear having a bus in the family will continue to be a grounding point for us.

Picture your family dinner table when you all discuss where you could go next and what you could explore? Going fishing after dinner is even easy, cause the rods are packed and we just need to get in. The idea to be an explorer is now always on the forefront of our kids' minds. That new mindset is worth the cost of gas alone. They consider local places with a new interest. That local park with the caves now feels like a destination, with no struggles to pack and plan. The bus is ready to go, our adventure is packed and waiting. I'm convinced, every family with kids needs an adventure bus. It's ageless, it's bonding, and it's authentic excitement.

Next stop is DC's Maker Faire. You will likely see us there, helping David out at the OpenROV booth, or driving into the parking lot...we will be the Kraken bus with the inflatable tentacles out the hatch and the sounds of 4 giggling kids coming from within.

Hope to see you there!


Lastly the kitchen.

Another requirement to convert to an RV is running water. Although this shot is the in-progress picture, this is our kitchen unit. The inset sink has a grey water bag underneath, with a pump faucet installed, attached to a clean water container. The space beside the sink holds the burner unit, which is screwed down.

The cabinet came from our local reuse centre, while the top came from the discard room at Ikea, perfectly matching the vintage table top in the sitting area, as well as the fabrics. We cut it to fit on the back splash, and drilled in the sink. The sink was a metal bowl found at the Salvation Army. We took the legs off the cabinet, mounted it on the wheel well for height and kept it all below the window so it doesn't obstruct the view.

In hind sight, the location of the burner and sink should have been switched. Next time...

The fridge is a plug in model that sits on the floor directly in front of this unit. Picture a plug in cooler. Since it's not a built in feature, we are uncertain if it would qualify as one of the 6 requirements for an RV.


One of the requirements to convert a bus to an RV is to have an independent power supply. Having to meet 4 of 6 requirements, this seemed like an obvious essential to go with. Primarily, we run the kid's Wii off the power so far, as well as the kitchen fridge. The kids would vote that the Wii beats out the fridge in priority though.

The addition of the power system required an electrical panel, batteries that recharge while driving, all kinds of fancy dials and buttons (I will let Charles chime in here with questions related to the electrical system), and most nerve wracking, an outlet on the exterior of the bus to plug in to supplemental power. Drilling a hole in your vehicle to attempt this kind of DIY started with a large breath and gulp.


Final touches included things like these blinds. They were nearly free at our local reuse centre. We disassembled them, the kids cut them down with their scroll saw, spray glued fabric on them, restapled it all back together and installed over the windows. There are coordinating curtains that extend the length of the windows for complete privacy.

There were some significant benefits to this vehicle over a traditional RV. We were able to achieve a "safari vehicle" feel with unobstructed view in all directions. In an RV, the windows are small and the interior is designed to resemble a room in a house. We wanted to work in all the same features without affecting the view.

Another super significant part was the safety. The question is always asked, do you need seatbelts? As a part of the conversion, yes, an RV requires seatbelts, and we retro-fitted them in. However, structurally it is still a bus, and it has been crash designed/rated to not require seatbelts. In contrast to riding in an RV, the structure of this conversion feels more secure with our precious kids on board. We had a chance to check out the construction of RVs while we were building the bus conversion, and are happy to have started with a solid foundation. The only way it could be improved upon is by starting with a school bus, but the downside is comfort, smooth ride, lack of insulation, and no luggage racks.


From the front looking back, the entry panel with the rail was re-upholstered. The white and red futon serves as the sleeping space for 2, there is a marine potty tucked under the seats, the electrical and batteries are behind the driver (white case with red straps), and the overhead racks are filled with hard cased vintage suitcases. The overhead racks are a must to anyone considering this kind of conversion. Without them, there is nowhere to store travel essentials. One of the suitcases hold entertainment things, such as games, while another holds the entire kitchen equipment. There is space for our ROV case and battery case too.


!!!! I don't know what to say. I'm speechless with excitement for your adventures.

There is always a seat for you, Erika, if you want to jump in :) Always great to put awesome female role models in front of our kids!

The seats were a struggle, as the original seats were in great condition, but super ugly.

I worked to reupholster them, but the struggles were plentiful without the proper tools and know how. I got around that by creating slip covers for them. These go on in 2 pieces, like pillow cases. The patterns were created through a system of trial and error, and lots of re-measuring.


The interior of the bus was the largest transformation. When you first walk on, it appears dramatically different...however, let me walk you through the concept. It was really pretty simple.

The biggest step was converting the bus title to a registered RV. The differences are significant: an RV can be driven with a regular driver's license, an RV is not commercial and doesn't require commercial insurance (a $5000 savings), an RV doesn't need yearly inspections, nor stops at weigh stations, but an RV can only have a max of 10 passengers.

We stripped the bus down by removing the seats, and most of the panels. Some of the panels had past water damage and some could just be prettier. With the bus gutted, we installed flooring (the front half was just a vinyl roll of standard checkered flooring), and a carpet remnant from our local carpet store. We hired a flooring installer to deal with laying the floor and transitions, figuring it was worth letting someone jump that hurdle who knew what he was doing. The panels were re-upholstered using a staple gun attached to the air compressor, and a generous amount of fabric from Joann's. It was cost effective to hit up the clearance rack on a 50% off day, find coordinating prints (the yellow-grey retro) and buy up any and all matching solids in upholstery fabric.

The retro print was also used to replace the headliner. This was just sprayed on with 3M spray adhesive, after the old headliner and glue was removed.

We purchased 3 new futons from a dealer we found on Kijiji (Craig's list). They are called Klik Klak lines and they click down flat, and also click up as loungers. From this angle, the red futons that serve as the kitchen seats fold down flat to make a huge sleeping platform for the kids in 4 sleeping bags.

This shot was taken from the rear of the bus looking forward.


Wanna see our bus!!!?

To recap, our kids came up with a crazy concept for a family adventure mobile this winter. What ended up happening was a collaborative family experience to turn an old bus into something fun. And we did. Our goal was to have it done in March, and while it was on the road and full of adventure, the finishing touches weren't yet complete.

We found the bus on our version of Craig's list and listed a design job on Fiverr to come up with a Kraken emblem for the side. Hard to imagine you can pay someone $5 for that effort!

A local graphics company provided us with the kraken image, handing over massive vinyl decals. We relied on YouTube and the lessons learned from those who have tried to DIY decals before us, learning the secret weapon is soapy water to keep the decal floating on the surface until it's in place, and squeegee'd down. Waiting until the temperature was above freezing also turned out to be significant!

We had some scrap left over, and using our Silhouette Cameo digital cutter were able to design the lettering for the front. The banner shape came from a set of nautical files purchased over at The Creative Market, as well as the font. It was our first attempt at a banner in the Cameo and again it was a learning curve as we became more familiar with our tools and new uses.

The whole project has been a work of DIY, learning the process and questioning the next steps as we go. It continues to have add-ons dreamed up, to improve the fun-potential. Next we picture inflatable tentacles out the emergency hatch!! :)


We are quite overdue for an update, and want to let you all know where we are at in our planning and adventures.

  • The OpenROV is up and running and has had a few test dives. We are aiming to have a few controls more consistent and still work out some bugs. Now with our pool filled and warming, we will have a chance to take that on.

  • The footage that we have captured is too long for posting. We would LOVE some feedback on trimming it from the ScreenCastify format to post here. Someone hold our hand and show us how???

  • The Kraken, our adventure bus, is done with the final touches, and we are ready to document our process. Pictures will be coming soon, with all the details on how you can do one too. It's awesomer than we hoped! ;)

  • National Maker Faire is on the horizon and we are packing our bags for that next adventure...will we see OpenROV there??

Pictures of the bus!! Yes!

I'll be at the National Maker Faire! Can I convince you guys to help me run the OpenROV booth??

@davidtlang, we would be pleased and honored to help Team OpenROV run the booth.

Get in touch via email and we can coordinate and see how we can best help.

Happy to lend a hand with video! Are you working from a mac or pc? iMovie is outstandingly simple if you are an apple user, I can do some asking around for the simplest solution on a PC. We can skype if you'd like to do a walk through! erika.bergman4

This should be simple...we are also on Mac. Google isn't solving our queries. Let's connect :)

I have a “good news” ROV update for you guys. ROV #1475 is now fully built and 100% operational!! Yay! Thank you to team OpenROV for the continual support.

We plan to continue posting regular updates as we transition from the build phase, to the bathtub testing phase and eventually the open water testing phase. We will be confirming operation of all equipment, building our checklists and planning test dives all in preparation and anticipation of this summer’s “Swim with Bluefin Tuna” expedition.

Please do drop us a note if something grabs your attention and you would like to participate in any way. We are looking to have others join in this exciting adventure in any capacity possible. We are also beginning our search for sponsors for the planned expeditions. We are very open to non-traditional (ie: not $$) forms of help in exchange for ?? (blog posts kudos, advertising on the expedition Bus, other?) Here are some items I had in mind – small pool/tank for doing ROV demos at schools and events, spare ROV parts, article space in a publication or blog, offers of bus parking/camping along travel routes, fuel cards, invitations to events for OpenROV demonstrations, etc.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have been selected and given the gift of adventure by OpenROV and The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We want to give back and hope to inspire those around us, and the folks we meet along the way, with a similar gift.

Let’s go Exploring! I suspect we will discover more than we ever anticipated.

~ Charles


Looks so wonderful! Congratulations!

It's easy to get going on a project and feel you are just spinning your wheels, with incremental progress. But it's not until you sit down and look at the beginning to end that you can cheer your successes.

With the OpenROV progress on a bit of a stall, we will get back to those celebrations in time (hopefully soon!)

But wanna see our bus!!!?

We Release the KRAKEN in a few weeks!!!


I'm so excited to see your land ship hit the road!

Wait a minute, I’m confused. Are you building a bus or an ROV? Yes! Yes we are.

We are currently building both. The ROV is still in progress and somehow, I would love to have it ready for March Break. The bus (I hesitate to call it an RV except for the kind folks at the licensing office) is going to be an ideal adventure / expedition vehicle. Once completely outfitted, it will serve as an awesome platform for underwater ROV expeditions as well as other explorations. It too needs to be ready for March Break.

On the ROV… let’s talk about Open Source. I love Open Source.

The new ESC (motor controller) was finally installed and after a reload of the latest software and ESC calibrations, we had a perfectly working ROV. Light.... camera… action!!

Then, BOOM! Somehow, the magic smoke was let out of the electronics and it’s been downhill since. Having said that, I want to talk about and commend the folks at OpenROV for the open source design. Within minutes, I was able to download the full board schematics, reference a bill of material and identify a damaged capacitor. I found a replacement in my parts bin and soldered it in. This fixed my squirrelly jittery motors. One down. I also noticed the IMU/Depth Sensor had stopped working. Again, a look at the schematics and a few minutes with the multimeter found the problem… a blown ground trace somewhere. I was able to solder in a jumper to feed the IMU circuit and voila… 2 down.

At this point, I was able to again calibrate things and for a few minutes had a fully working ROV. I was ecstatic! “Woohoo! Look! I fixed it!!” Another reboot to check confirm things. Then… Nothing! Not a light. Not a flash. The Beaglebone (the main processor) is completely, 100%, dead.

What’s the point of all of this? The Open Source design allowed me, the user, to troubleshoot my own device and make some necessary repairs. That in itself is a powerful concept. How many things end up in landfill because we have no way to repair them? We currently live in a world dominated by electronic black blobs that are unrepairable, enclosures that must be broken apart to access the guts, proprietary and obscure components that cannot be sourced. Open source is changing all of this, empowering us as a society and I believe we will be far better for it.

In the end, I was not able to fix my ROV. But a lot was learned in the process and that too is important. Where do we go from here? I am not certain what initially caused the issues but I have been struggling with my original board since day one and do not want to invest anymore (time and money) in this current board setup (2 damaged ESCs, 1 damaged main board, 1 damaged Tenda adapter, 1 damaged Beaglebone) I will be purchasing the latest 2.7 board with built-in ESC from OpenROV and hopefully get this ROV in the water soon.

With any luck, I can still hit that looming March Break deadline. I am hoping to move from the build stage soon in order to share with you some test video as we continue to prepare for the Tuna Adventure


With our adventure starting out in March, we are eagerly busting through the legwork on the Adventure Mobile and the OpenROV. We find ourselves at that point where all parts have arrived, the boxes and tools are piled high, and it all just needs to be assembled and tested.


An update on the vehicle, the flooring is installed! We are going for the retro living room on wheels feel, and are eager to get the last of it together.

Of course, like any project, it's a can of worms. While I popped out the headliner last night to be replaced, we removed the front panel that covers the bulkhead over the driver...revealing an empty space. At this point we struggle to put it back together and conceal ALL the wasted space. It's now a toss up...take on more work with some kind of built-in solution, or cover it up and forget about it. Knowing us we will have a built-in planned shortly.

The upholstery is nearly done, it's cleaning up nicely, and the licensing requirements have all been met. Adventures are getting closer!!! :)


This is so wonderful. If that parquet is 1ft x 1ft you can use the floor to design, measure, and engineer in the field. Keep your eyes peeled on the OpenExplorer Report this week :)

That is brilliant...yes, it is 12" tiles. I'll watch for the Report, and I'm hoping you guys are building a bus project as well.

Why, that is a great Open Explorer Report. Thanks for the shout out.

It's actually been a bit of a blessing that we have been waiting for a part in the ROV build process, cause we have upped the adventure quotient and invested in an expedition vehicle.

We could call it a bus, but it's technically an "RV", yet we prefer Adventure Mobile.

The bus came about from a hair-brained idea of the eldest daughter...and turned into one of those parenting moments where you realize the need to encourage the hair-brainedness and run with it. Picture your teenage suggests you buy a bus for family adventures; of course you laugh that tom foolery off. Until it hits you...your teenager just asked for more family time, to fuel a sense of wonder. To explore. To expand horizons. Certainly, you buy the bus! So we are the proud owners of a used bus, turned RV, destined for adventure.

The first adventure begins in March, destinations unknown. Hopefully we will have the robot ready and onboard to explore where ever we end up.

Attached is a mock up of a possible exterior design. It was previously used as a campaign vehicle up here in Canada, so it's sporting a giant smiling politician spread all over it. On. Every. Surface. With any luck we will be in the sunny south soon enough to warm up that exterior and get the goofy looking dude off. Or maybe we just send the kids out with sharpies to make a go of it...why not fully embrace the tom foolery!?

Happy adventuring! :)



1) Congratulations!
2) Here at HQ we've been playing with same Idea! I'd love to talk about meeting up this summer and going on a joint bus adventure to collaborate with OpenExplorers across North America.

Love the design. So Much.

THAT sounds like a plan! Count us in :) We are pretty much open to ideas for exploration.

OpenROV 1475 is officially alive :)

In the first voyage of the kitchen, we captured the 6-armed zebra octopus, a shark and a fairy-princess-pus. Exciting times!!

Powered up, lights on, cameras rolling. The excitement begins, the wonder builds!

Sounds like this puppy is just about ready for splashdown! Congratulations! Looks like you may need to set your youtube video settings to public. Right now the video is private and we can't see the octopus, sharks, or fairy princess!


Ahhh, the mysterious "publish" feature. I think it's solved now. Thanks for the heads up!

It's allliiiiivee!

The glue has arrived, the snow has set in...It's ROV building season!!

OpenROV 1475 is in progress and nearing "power on". We were expecting a much more extensive process along the way...however the instructions and online supports available were so complete and easy to follow.

It's been a lot of fun watching this creation take form and Pearle has been eager to get involved herself. She has learned to cut wires, while avoiding cutting others. It's been a massive confidence piece to her wee 3 year old self.

This week the OpenExplorer newsletter was about road trips, and we can't wait to share the details of our plans. A few more checks and balances before it's official but we plan to be back in the next few days with some Adventuring news! Stay tuned.


Glad to see the ROV is near completion! I can't wait to hear your adventuring news. There is nothing more fun than to read about the exploration and adventures of other!

I wonder if this will work? Let's see!

We are wondering if anyone out there in this World Wide Web wants to have us come out and explore your waters with our OpenROV?!

We have been looking at booking a March vacation with the kids, and are eager to get somewhere without ice to play with our OpenROV.

There is excitement to be had, but we need a place to stay and access to water...Anyone?! Do you know someone with a fancy-pants yacht that sleeps six, or a houseboat for a family who can squish into tight quarters. In turn, let's go OpenROV'ing!!

Ideas welcome, far and wide :)

I think it would be great to have you team up with the students at the Miramichi valley High School who also just got their OpenROV and are pool testing it now. Teacher is Ashley Hallihan they also have an OpenExplorer blog.

Very cool...thank you! Will certainly look into that :)

The New England Explorer's are always up to some fun stuff! Shipwrecks and caves and all kinds of wonderful adventures. Michael just did a radio interview too!

Yes, you should drop by New England. We have so much to explore! We should have our ROV up and running soon! IWe're always up for teaming up with other explorers out there!

What a great idea! We have a fun new project on the go just now that may make that possible. Will be in touch :)

It's here!

We've been excited to find in the mail our OpenROV kit, and are gathering all the other necessities to get building - like sourcing the acrylic glue.

This will certainly be a fun winter project to build, and with the Canadian winter behind us we will be eager to get exploring in the spring.

Until then, Melissa is busy sharing the kit and potential in the classroom with other educators, taking a look at bringing authentic, experiential education to 21st Century learners. It's an exciting time to be an educator! :)

A huge thanks to OpenROV and this fabulous kit. We're eager to get making!


So Exciting! I'm happy to help with build tips for educators, I've got some curriculum materials developed which I'm happy to share! erika at openrov dot com.

Once upon a time, all we had was a underwater dive mask/camera, and 4 kids battling for time with it.

But now we sit and wait for our new OpenROV to arrive! If you haven't heard us shouting out this news by now..WE WON AN OpenROV!!

Huge thanks to all of you who helped share your support and enthusiasm for this expedition. We are all very excited to get our hands on the kit.

While at Maker Faire in NY a few weeks back, we had the chance to operate the OpenROV on display. Tonight I noticed that the kids had their iPads out watching the video of this experience, and are busy planning ideas together for our own explorations.

My classrooms are filled with kids asking if it has arrived yet, and sharing comments and ideas for its use. Dropping it in under the ice is a favourite idea, and as the winter moves in...well, that just may happen. I predict we will be too excited to wait for spring thaw :) Another person suggested pool testing and springboard diving. All ideas are great ideas :)

Thanks again OpenROV for igniting this enthusiasm and exposing such curiosity in these kids. We can't wait!


Well, well, well...another ROV on the cover of Fake: Magazine.

Let's help this guy win himself a real OpenROV! ;)


very cool

cool ;)

great site

ha. hahahahahahahahaah.

Where shall we dive today?

As it would be foolish to drive 20 hrs across Canada and plunk the ROV in the water untested, it’s time to start planning the initial phases of this expedition.

I am reaching out to the local people of our community to help identify and gain access to some great testing spots. In preparation, I spent a few minutes going over possible location in Google map.

The first image shows the expedition homebase, Erin Ontario. Just North-West of there you will see a small body of water known as Belwood Lake. It is where we keep the expedition vessel… an old sailboat we’ve christened Knot-A-Clew. I imagine this could be a good place to do a test launch.

The second image, honestly, just reminds me of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. We are blessed to be surrounded by the Great Lakes… where do you guys want to explore today??

Zoom out a bit further to the third and fourth images and, like David mentioned in an earlier comment, “ A good reminder on how much left there is to explore!” Look at all that blue.

I am hoping to hear from many of you on what is possible, what makes sense and what could be just plain fun. :-)

I want to get as many people involved as we can. Invite your neighbours to participate, your mom, the retired engineer next door, the entire science class at your school; the more the merrier.

Just join OpenExplorer (it’s literally about 3 clicks), follow the expedition and start contributing! We look forward to hearing from all of you!


ROV helps unravel Artic mystery!

Using an ROV, Parks Canada staff have found one of two missing ships belonging to Sir Franklin’s Lost Artic Expedition. While it is unclear at this point if the wreckage is that of HMS Erebus or HMS Terror, I am certain those details will eventually come out.

News of the discovery is getting reaction around the world; what great timing to bring much desired attention to OpenExplorer and OpenROV. Leaving politics aside for a moment, consider the following:

  • In this case, Inuit oral tradition long indicated one of the ships might have ended up where it was eventually located. Using the tools of OpenExplorer, we can easily reach out and tap into local knowledge. Collaboration is key.

  • The ongoing expedition and eventual discovery of the ship would be a fascinating one to follow and, more importantly, participate in. Imagine teaching a classroom full kids who are actively following and also participating in such an important event. I imagine watching a live video feed of this ship’s wreckage suddenly appearing on the screen would be the catalyst to launch a life-long yearning into science and ocean research.

  • What if the second ship was eventually found by a team of independent researchers? This ship was apparently only 11m down; well within the reach of OpenROV. What if we could afford to have 100 x $1000 ROVs scouring the ocean floor instead of 1 x $100,000 ROV?

  • This Parks Canada expedition, as well as prior expeditions to find Franklin’s crew and ships, has led to ongoing scientific research in the Artic. This includes mapping of the sea bed in areas previously uncharted. All of this is important in our ongoing studies of climate change.

For those interested in hearing more about the expedition and, to catch some great footage of the ROV and sunken ship, check out CBC’s coverage and video at


A very well written account of the discovery can be found here:

Very, very cool. A good reminder on how much left there is to explore!

Wow, AMAZING timing. I was just thinking about how to mount an OpenROV expedition to check out this new discovery. This is going to be such a great expedition to follow! Good LUCK! Let us know if we can help in anyway! I have some contacts in Inuit communities from my recent arctic expedition with an OpenROV. Happy to make some connections!

Thank you for the comments and support guys!

I've had this lifelong dream of traveling to the Arctic; it will someday become a reality. We may not be looking for Franklin's ships be we will surely find treasures in the people we meet, the friendships we form and in the beauty of the rugged landscape.

As far as looking for the long lost second ship.... I imagine if we asked the locals they'd quickly point us the right way ;)

We will admit that a large part of our excitement with this expedition is the chance to play underwater with Gannets. So clearly it's with a heavy heart this morning that we read this headline:

Gannet population in grave shape off Newfoundland, scientists warn

As a teacher, and an advocate for citizen science, the questions arise: Is there a way that contributions from citizens can impact the gannet population? Is there a way to allow students the chance to contribute to authentic learning AND have a positive outcome on their world?

While I certainly don't have the answers at my fingertips, I know that my role as a teacher isn't to answer it all, but it is my responsibility to find someone who can provide solutions to the questions we pose. I can bring this into the classroom without knowing the end result. In fact, to present authentic experiences, I SHOULD bring this to the classroom. I can pose to my students, "can you envision something we could offer to help gain a better understanding? Can we tap into the professionals involved (yes, the world of the internet makes everyone accessible), and collaborate on efforts? "

The teaching opportunities are endless, with questions of why? how oceans work? what they eat? and on and on. But it's the solutions that are significant.

Children have a creative spirit and can offer solutions we may not have considered. They may often sound fanciful and dream-like, but modern technology makes the impossible now possible. It's my job as a teacher to merge the two: the big ideas with the world of possible.

In this case, I would like to put this in the hands of my students and see what comes of it. I won't guarantee a solution, but I would promise an unexpected end result. And just maybe, it will contribute to a solution, and a better world. Or maybe we just build a classroom of inventive dreamers...and I'm convinced that's also a great 21st Century thing!

Image credit: Wiki


Unfortunate news but you are definitely turning around in a positive way! I especially like your goal of reaching out to professionals or experts. People are just people, best lesson I think we can teach!

Thanks Erika. It's an exciting time to be an educator, connected to anyone and everyone :)

Very Noice

It's amazing how quickly the ideas for improvement come when you get a physical part in your hands. " if only we tried this..... Aha, of course!" The beauty of rapid prototyping; "Fail fast, fail often"

I've changed the plunger to: 1. eliminate the binding of the rubber band 2. eliminate the screw and two-part plunger The change, while minimal, has made a nice difference. Here it is....


Looks great! Excited to see how it works. Also, wonder if this method could be reversed and used for a water sampling device?

I think the syringe method of water sampling holds much potential. I've been thinking of a way to make it practical and have a prototype in mind.. stay tuned :)

Have you ever seen a gannet plunge-dive into the ocean in search of it's next meal? If you have, you can attest to the breathtaking choreography as you watch this creature dive from considerable height, tuck in its wings and plunge to an unknown depth at incredible speeds!

Have you ever seen a gannet catch its meal underwater? Neither have I. I would like to change that.

I am toying with the idea of adding a "food canon" payload to the ROV in the hopes of releasing food at depth to attract the gannets into the camera's field of view. The on-board depth sensor would then allow us to answer rather accurately "how deep do these gannets dive"?

Here is my concept. Lets call it, Food Canon Rev.1 (pictures shown below)

The Canon consists of a hollow tube, a plunger and an actuator. The tube is of course where the food will be loaded, and the actuator (rubber band in this case) will force the food out of the plunger when the arming pin is pulled. I believe the pin could be pulled using something similar to Hub's fantastic Magnetic Coupled Grabber seen here ( )

I played with other ideas including a screw auger type of mechanism to load/unload the tube via rotating motor, using springs (which I may yet try) and settled on this design as a first go. "Just Get Started!" as David Lang would say. No 3D printer... no problem; Picture using a syringe to essentially accomplish the same thing. Thinking more about the task at hand I think syringes would be even better than custom parts. (update: Hub has since posted almost exactly what I describe here. His system is used to collect water samples; I would run it in reverse. I love the collaboration opportunities the internet facilitates. )

Does my concept work? Yes. No. I don't know.

Yes: As a proof of concept, I certainly achieved what I was aiming for. Mainly, I wanted to get the idea out of my head and into the physical realm to share and discuss with others. Secondly, I've set out to learn 3D design and 3D Printing and this is a good opportunity to continue building that skillset. “Look… I made it!” Certainly, the same thing could have been created using a lathe and a milling machine. But, I own neither of those tools. And, by using the 3D printer I was able to make this in my sleep. Literally. I awoke this morning to find my concept parts patiently waiting on the print bed. A HUGE thank you to my friend Jim for lending me the 3D printer.

No: It does not work as well as it should. The rubber band creates some friction around the openings. I've got Rev. 2 designed in my mind... will print a new plunger tonight. I see a need to cap off the food bay so as not to have the ROV mobbed by mackerel.

I don't know: We need to test this thing. First I need an ROV ;) In the meantime, I think the Mermaid and I may run a series of bathtub tests and see what happens. I’m certain it will evoke laughter and giggles if nothing else. Watch this watch this…

As this is a shared exploration, and a work in progress, I much look forward to your feedback for improvements, ideas for other concepts and of course the "it won't work because of ...." . I am hoping to tap into the vast shared knowledge to design a fully functioning payload.

Witty commentary also encouraged :)




This looks awesome! Excited to see how it works!

Will it be filled with some sort of tasty fish innards?! What is the best bait for feeding these fish?

That's a good point Erika and I'm hoping to have that answered by the community here on OpenExplorer.

I have some thoughts on what could be in there (ground up mackerel comes to mind, especially the shinny scaly bits) but others will jhopefully have other ideas.

ye baby

50 Followers!! How fabulous is that?!?? :)

I am very excited about this expedition and I know that together, we can pull it off. Since we do not currently have the ability to see who the expedition followers are (I'm told this functionality is in development) we will do it old school.

Please get up in front of the crowd and introduced yourself in the comment section. While you are at it, invite your friends and family members to also follow the expedition. The more the merrier.

I'll go first....

Hello everyone, I'm Charles a.k.a Charliemaker

I suppose my involvement with the expedition will mostly revolve around these 3 things:

  1. Technical; I wield soldering irons and wrenches for fun and can usually find my way through code if needed.

  2. Heavy Lifting: "Can you carry this... and this, please".

  3. Driver: No no, not of the ROV; there are others who are way better than I with game controllers. Driving the bus is what I meant. We did mention there is a bus involved right? Going to be one heck of a trip and I hope many of you will join.

I've heard it said that just having a 3D printer in a school can alter the mindset of the students to realize what is possible, and thus apply a new level of creativity. Today I realized the same potential an OpenROV could have for kids, errr...people. While out SCUBA diving today, I kept imagining how different that dive experience could be with an underwater robot, now that I have seen the potential.

The back story, I learned to SCUBA dive while living in Colombia, Charles and I dive together, and more recently we have struggled with this being a shared sport. Diving is most enjoyable when recounted on the surface, after ascent, with a buddy. With four kids, one of us would have to stay on shore with them while we took turns. I set out this summer to start to fix that, and kicked the summer off with a dive trip with Charles to Barbados, and this week am wrapping up the summer with my original dive buddy, Leah, on a dive trip to Tobago. I'm a lucky girl to have Charles home holding down the fort :)

I didn't expect the 8' manta ray at the start of today's dive to be topped, but it was. By the elusive frog fish. Never seen a frog fish? I hadn't either, and was starting to think they were maybe a myth.

You see where I am going with this?! OpenROV...

imagine now we could arrange family dive trips, rearranged with kids and one spouse on the boat, with the other partner down with the robot, pointing out the excitement. All of a sudden, this sport I am passionate about, becomes family-oriented and we can all participate. Blaise could delight at the squids in Barbados, Marah would be in awe of the intricate patterns on the coral today, Karissa would be wowed at the sharks tomorrow, and perhaps Pearle would find that mermaid.

But what would they now do with that new perspective? Diving is transformative, sparking engagement with those who witness under the sea. Ever seen what Rob Stewart's did with his enthusiasm, in 'Revolution"? What about Shark Week? That draws us all in, if not questionably generating fear ;). Would my kids extend their learning and participate in citizen science, would they talk about it at show and tell, would they engage their inner activist in preserving the oceans, would it just make them feel more whole to be a part of life under the sea? Who knows, as that's up to them. As an educator, it's up to me to provide my kids these experiences beyond school but then ask myself, how can I engage my in-school students in this wonder, and spark their curiosity on what IS possible and send them out to explore their world.

Yeah, I want an OpenROV.

Tomorrow we drop in an Atlantic current to travel over an underwater mountaintop, drop down the far side and into the shark habitat. Sure I KNOW they aren't dangerous, but you wanna be sure I'll be chanting from Nemo on the decent, I say "Shark Bait!", you say "Oooo-Ha-Ha". Didn't we all just watch Shark Week?!

Wouldn't you LOVE to come with me?!

Imagine what YOU could see with an OpenROV. Perhaps it's not as much about having one, as it is about knowing THAT is possible and letting your own imagination run wild. For now, I tuck in for the night with the thrill of that ray fin cutting the surface towards me, and imagine what's ahead tomorrow.

Night all...


Check out that wee turtle, making his way to the sea today...swim strong wee one. How cool would it be to watch that?!

As we prepare for this expedition to swim with Bluefin Tuna, our current planning stage is not to build the robot, nor field test the robot, nor pack the sandwiches, rather we have to FIRST get ourselves an OpenROV to begin.

And we need your help! :) We are asking for a 21st Century donation of a FOLLOW to this expedition. Go ahead and click right now...make an account and follow our adventure.

Teachers, if you have been driven to this link in exchange for a set of Maker posters, give me a FOLLOW and leave me a comment to this post with a way to send you the link to the posters. Either leave your email, or send me one to In turn, I will send you a dropbox link to the set.

The posters are a set of 13 concepts that I use in the classroom, based on language derived from the Makerspace Playbook. The imagery is from a collection of Maker Faires, illustrating the concepts.

Go ahead, leave me a FOLLOW and a comment and let's connect :)

Expedition Background

We have all had moments of wonder while watching Wicked Tuna, and can only imagine the enormity of the schools of Bluefin Tuna below. Spending time out on a fishing boat only provokes further wonder, surrounded by seals, whales, seabirds, lobsters, and schools of fish.

This expedition involves our immediate family, partnered with our PEI family who are fishermen. The idea behind this expedition came about while out on their boat, watching Gannets dive after our Mackerel. We figured it would be incredible to get our SCUBA gear on and bait them to dive while shooting with a camera. Ever seen a Gannet? Want to!?

And then we were awestruck by this video, and couldn't stop watching:

Watch that footage and it's not a far leap to then understand what we would do with an OpenROV! Let's find Tuna! We are assured this is very possible, and are eager to experience the deep for ourselves. We have been exploring options to build devices via Instructables, however the OpenROV solves all the hassle.

The tuna season happens in PEI in late August and we aim to be there in 2015 and see what we can capture. The opportunities are endless to check out areas we can't see from above, such as the clam beds between the sandhills, the lobsters on the sea floor around traps, and just how big are the hermit crabs out deeper than we can walk!?

While developing the expedition, I intend to educate my students and public school board about the importance of participation in modern opportunities for citizen science and exploration. This expedition offers a unique way to model this for my students, and stir up excitement in students from different areas of Canada. It is my hope to inspire others in public education to embrace the need for hands on exploration in the classroom, with a collaborative 21st Century approach to learning. People are eager to hear more, and I am eager to share.

Our contributions to the team are:

Melissa - a teacher, with a commitment to bringing the Maker Movement into public education. I feel passionate that children need to be exposed to modern tools for the purpose of creating their understanding.

Charles - an industrial robot technician by day, and answerer of endless kitchen table questions by night. He will address all things related to tools and design concepts. We always rely on him to take our ideas and make them happen.

The kids - Karissa (12) will be our lead researcher and can effectively research solutions and questions along the way. Marah (10) is not afraid to get her hands dirty and will be essential in a fishing expedition for that reason. She runs an Etsy shop selling LED infused art kits, and is a Maker at heart. Blaise (7) is curious and passionate about "Arch-i-toof-us", the Giant Squid, and will some day discover their secrets. He is excited to start his career early. Pearle (3) has wanted to be a Mermaid her whole life. Well seriously, she is 3. As her mom, I want to make sure she is exposed to this form of inquiry and exploration as a Normal part of her development and educational growth outside of school. Pearle is always game for anything and will wear the biggest smile and cheers when we succeed.

Cory, and the PEI family - They have the boat and the know how to find the fish and play with this concept. To them, life on the water is a normal part of their day. Apart from answering endless texts, they have an approach that anything and everything is doable, and we are eager to test that out!

With expertise in robots, Tuna fishing, education, and a gaggle of kids eager to be inspired (and in turn inspire others!), we are more than excited to start planning our PEI TUNA EXPEDITION, and all the other wonderful explorations we will take on in the summer of 2015!



Sounds awesome!!

Good luck! Sounds like fun.

Good for you for pursuing your curiosity!

Pearl your my most favorite mermaid ever

Looking forward to all the updates on this adventure !

Great video using GoPro
I live in Moncton NB and have been very active with the OpenROV over the past 2 years, wish you all the best
Dave Murphy

I am a teacher in California, and I would love to follow your expedition! I am just starting to get involved in Maker projects in my middle school.

Dave, we certainly could use your expertise. Why don't we pick you up on the way to the island; I suggest the Pumphouse as an ideal gathering spot :)

Looking forward to your adventure!

Oh, boy sounds like a fun adventure

looks like a typical Mel adventure to me! Can't wait to see the results!

What a neat idea! I have heard that this area is one of the last places to have a good population of blue fin tunas, so this could help with reseach. Would be neat to connect with the St Andrews marine research school in Nb or another place like that to get more school kids invested in the program.

Hello Arborist. Your idea to connect with St Andrews school is fantastic; do you happen to have any contacts there we could reach out to?

Looking forward to seeing what you have to share with the world after you get your new OpenROV. Between your knowledge in teaching, Melissa, and yours in Robotics, charliemaker, I'm convinced only good things can come of this. The world will see Gannets and Tuna through new eyes. Good luck in your explorations.

Charles and Melissa, I will be looking forward to seeing updates on your expeditions in your OpenROV. It sounds very exciting and I know that you can do wonders with this new project. I would not mind being a little bird spying on one of them expeditions of yours which I am sure you will be enjoying in the near future. I wish you both the best.

Love how you support your concepts with actual sites that show actual photos.

I would like to follow all these neat projects from the whole family Love them keep up the good work and good luck

Hey Charles.
We have begun to follow your progress. Let me know if there is anything else the Meadowvale Secondary School students can help with.
All the best!

Teacher1, Team SWBT appreciates your support; we are excited to have your students on board.

If we successfully win an OROV we will make plans to bring into the classroom for discussions and participation.

Sounds so fabulous! You have a great following and as a fellow OpenExplorer page holder I would love to hear more about how to get more people following! :)