Sea Perch Was a Hit at Maker Faire

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our booth at Maker Faire was a big hit!

People of all ages (although mostly kids) flocked to the Sea Perch controls for a chance to drive the ROVs around the small pool we brought. Everyone was smiling!

2 kids built their own Sea Perch in our booth in a single day. Great job!

And to top it all off, we won 2 Editor's Choice blue ribbons! Thanks to everyone who stopped by to check us out, and please check out the plans on our Sea Perch website to build your own -- Sea Perch is an open source project!

Final Preparation for Maker Faire

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today we made one last push to make more sea perch kits for Maker Faire. We fly out on Thursday, and start setting up on Friday!

We made nearly 90 kits in one day -- our most productive day yet!

We also finished the joystick panels using wood that we recovered from the disassembled roller coaster on east campus.

Sea Perch Kitbuilding

Thursday, May 21, 2009

We are rushing to finish building all our sea perch kits before they must be shipped.

Sea Perch Joysticks

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

While the control boxes on a normal sea perch are designed to be economical, our demo at Maker Faire will need to handle 2 days of heavy use by (hopefully) excited people. We wired up a controller using arcade-style joysticks and mounted it to a sheet of plywood left over from packing ORCA in its crate.

ORCA V Packed and Ready

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We packed ORCA V into its crate for delivery to Maker Faire, using plywood, ratchet straps,and foam board.

Flotation Spheres

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our 17" flotation spheres from Teledyne Benthos arrived today. They should help us squeeze a little more buoyancy into the AUV.

ORCA V's Final Journey

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today we reassembled ORCA V, in preparation for its exhibition at the Maker Faire. After that, it will be sent to the MIT Museum for posterity.

DC1394 Camera Driver for MOOS

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here is the first set of test images from the new DC1394 camera driver (and new generalized camera framework) in MOOS.

The driver enumerates its implementation-specific settings as individual MOOS variables to make administration (through uMS) easier.

In this case, the brightness setting was adjusted -- arbitrarily -- from its 32 (the default) up to 127 and down to 1.

Preparing Sea Perch Kits for Maker Faire

Friday, May 8, 2009

In preparation for our trip to the Maker Faire at the end of May, we are putting together 350 Sea Perch kits.

The hardest part so far was cutting 14,000 feet of Cat 5e cable (network cable) in to 350 pieces and coiling it. The blue cables on the floor here are about 200 of those.

Dead Battery

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our battery has failed.

After 3 years of faithful service, our battery was accidentally allowed drain far below the acceptable minimum voltage for Li-ion cells, effectively ruining its capacity. In fact, it would be unsafe to recharge this battery in its present under-voltage state.

We will have to build a new battery. This is unfortunate, but since these cells lose 20% of their capacity per year in perfect storage conditions, it was inevitable.

This will push our schedule back a bit...

Getting the Hang of 3D Printing

Friday, May 1, 2009

This is a scale model of the Odyssey IV vehicle, made on our 3D printer. It was supposed to help us test the design of the recovery cage that we printed out, but we made the walls too thin... so instead, it will probably become a mobile in someone's office.

The Enemy

The white gooey-looking mass covering this mussel is called "didemnum", an invasive species of sea squirt that's taking over the sea bottom in various locations off the east coast.

Although it looks like mucus, this animal is fairly firm, almost leathery. It's actually a large group of sea squirts -- cloned from a single individual -- tightly packed together.

We will be running some survey missions between mid-July and mid-August to learn more about where this species lives and how it is spreading.