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Building my First DIY ROV - 3D printed with Ardusub and BlueROV components

I am building my very first DIY ROV with my 2 boys to use in our now very clear lake here in Texas (thank you Zebra mussels). I am basing my project off of the “Albie” 3D printed ROV project posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma0I4YwhV7M - I am modifying this using PETG instead of PLA and I plan to redesign the frame quite a bit after we prototype all the components and get things working. I will post some pictures of the progress here soon.

I have found most of my answers here on the forum which has been a huge help. My main questions revolve around power.

I planned on re-using a PowerDistribution board I already had wired up to my ESC’s from a salvaged quadcopter project I built. With all of these components connected inside of a watertight enclosure, how does powering on and charging work?

I assume you need to open the enclosure and remove the batter for charging. What about switching power off to the Raspbery Pi and teh Pixhawk when not in use? Is that done through the Switch offered by Blue Robotics here: https://bluerobotics.com/store/comm-control-power/switch/switch-10-5a-r1/ or am I missing something else?


Sounds like a great project!

The battery does need to be removed from the WT enclosure for charging. Most of the time we just keep the battery unplugged until its time to deploy. I have added a SSR to the battery WT enclosure. Like this one: https://www.digikey.ca/en/products/detail/D06D100/CC1520-ND/353618?utm_medium=email&utm_source=oce&utm_campaign=3311_OCE20RT&utm_content=productdetail_CA&utm_cid=515623&so=65148675&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWVRsbE56RTRNVEExWXpZMyIsInQiOiJMVDcydjBiaW5IQ1p2UDllXC9JY094QnBsWWxlYk5XUGlLb2Z1OXY0M3psa3JycmEyT25DcWtpY1Z1c1NrRnBDcFwvRFRvcEJTM2ZPM3lIbll5OUc5Rmp5UllhYzBRdjBlV0x3OXdiOHFrOTdRM0ZOWGtkQmZuOGRLT1lkV2xDWmo0In0%3D
There are many SSRs out there. I burned out a cheap one, so I went with this more expensive unit.
I use a spare pair in the the tether and have a switch topside to power up the entire BR2. Works great!
Can’t wait to see your build.

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Here are some pictures of the build process. I am 3D printing each part separately in PETG and then glueing everything together using gorilla glue. My goal is to print as much as I can to hone the process of dealing with PETG. I am building this first ROV as a Prototype and I already have several ideas about how to design and 3D print the next one using more thrusters and make everything more serviceable. I need to get this one in the water first to keep learning.
All of the components so far except the motors are pretty much coming straight from BlueRobotics. I wanted to re-use my ESC’s but they were cheap and I couldn’t flash them to work in reverse so I just dropped another couple of $100 bucks at the BR store!

I am waiting on 2 more shipments from BR to get everything assembled. I will post more pics as I go.


Making some slow progress. I could not find the Pixhawk shelf on the BlueROV store so I 3D printed one. I am using the Raspberry PI camera for the first prototype so I am now re-printing the shelf to allow me to connect/disconnect the ribbon cable for the PI camera more easily.

Had to print some custom spacers and a few more props in a CCW and CW configuration in order to get all the motor shrouds installed.

I also worked with my teenage son to get the initial software loaded. QGroundControl installed and flashed updated images onto the Raspberry Pi and the Pixhawk. All is well so far and they are communicating to the topside computer just fine.

I will do some additional assembly soon and then I am waiting on my BlueROV ESC’s and power distribution module to wrap up the wiring in the enclosure.

Crazy how much time is involved in the trial and error of fabrication when you are not working from a kit. :slight_smile:


Progress is slow, but its progress. I have made the thruster connections and I want to add a bit more heat shrink to completely enclose the connections. I received my BR ESC’s and installed those along with most of the SOS Leak sensors. I am not starting off with the Fathom-x board so I have a Cat-5 breakout board installed instead to make connections easier.

I also potted my first connectors. I watched the BR video here and the process seemed pretty straightforward. I realized I need a better setup to really do it cleanly, but its a learning process here.

Huge thanks to the nice folks at BR. I broke off one of the threads on the electronics tray hex rods and they are sending me some replacements in the mail. I am really happy with the service and support from BR so far.

I also 3D printed a customized GoPro mount for the ROV and did a partial assembly. I really don’t like the Original Zip tie design of this and I am for sure going to redesign and re-print the body of this setup after I spend some time with the prototype.

I am hoping to get through the rest of the assembly and get the ROV splashed some time this weekend.

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I purchased a pair of these to run my ethernet signal over cheap coax. 2 for $50.

Comes with a BNC connector so you will need 2 compression-style RG59 to BNC adapters.
RG59 if using regular 75-90ohm cable TV coax.
RG58 if using 50ohm ham-radio-style coax.

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I finally got everything together and I am ready for the first splash and test today. I made a major oversight in my wiring. For this design, the battery shares the space in the 4" enclosure, so I will need to open it every time I put this into the water or connect the battery.

Unfortunately, I made up the thruster cables so short that I could not pull out the electronics tray but about 4 inches. :man_facepalming:

I spent about an hour cutting, stripping, splicing, and heat shrinking on new cable to get the length I needed to make this work. There is now a lot of excess cable I will need to bundle up each time I take this to the water. “Its just a prototype” I keep reminding myself.

On the positive side, I made some changes in the assembly that should allow the body to flood quickly and the whole thing seems pretty stout. My software check was all good so now I just need to get it in the water and get all the sensors calibrated.

I am pretty sure I am going to have some buoyancy challenges today. I will send in the results later. Cross your finger.

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I forgot to ask, I am getting this error in QGroundControl each time I connect to the ROV. Anyone know what this is or how to resolve this? I am not sure this is critical or not.

Maybe it doesn’t like your power sense module?

It works!! Had a great first run with the DIY ROV in the neighbors pool on Saturday. I didn’t get great video with all the craziness going on. BBQ and kids swimming was also happening :slight_smile:

I thin the bubble front on the enclosure was throwing the ballast off since I couldn’t get the nose down, even with the entire 1 1/2" PVC filled with wet pool sand. I used a mesh bag filled with river rocks, hooked on the front of the ballast PVC to dial in the perfect weight, which was about 2 lbs more on the front.

Because of the big bag hanging off the front, it wasn’t particularly easy to fly around the pool, but the thrusters were surprisingly responsive and the 3d printed props worked great.

I for sure need to get the BR camera. The Raspberry Pi camera is just not good enough to really enjoy the experience.

I am going to place some additional BR orders, adjust the ballast and make a few additional tweaks and test again in the pool before heading to the lake for some real exploration.

Here is a very short video of the ROV in the pool. The bag on the front is funny.

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@corndog Yeah, I am using a leftover module from a previous project. I am going to see if I can get this one selected correctly in QGC. If not, I will be buying the BR power sense module instead.