5/24/2017 - 6/1/2017
San Diego California
We’ve officially reached the end of the modules for the construction of little Pegasus, and the team and I couldn’t be more thrilled! We’ve broken this post into two days because we ran into a little bit of an issue the first time we tried to turn on Pegasus. After charging the high-capacity lithium batteries that give our little ROV the juice it needs to run, we couldn’t get any feedback from the ROV itself. After a whole lot of head scratching, and a lot of time digging through internet forums, we realized that our batteries weren’t making contact in the battery tubes. After this “ah-ha’ moment all we had to do was solder a little bit of material onto the positive end of each battery so that they make good contact in their tubes. And then, violà! Little Pegasus came to life! But, our trouble shooting issues didn’t stop there.
Here’s what Project Pegasus intern Jordan had to say about these last two days:
The ROV is very close to completion. We were able to turn the ROV on and we saw the light show that it produced. It was a very cool sight to see, the ROV flashing its lights, especially because I know that we did all of the wiring and soldering in order to make it happen. We did some troubleshooting today with communication back from the ROV. The ROV would turn on but it wouldn’t send us communication back, which was problematic. For the sake of time we decided to move on and email OpenROV™’s [tech support] people about the issue. Next, we placed the O-rings on the battery tubes and the DB25 pin connector to make sure they are water tight.
At this point in the construction of the ROV, there were no more directions. Because of this, communication with the team was crucial in order to make any new adaptations to the ROV. We wanted to solder a waterproof quick release to the ROV so that we would be able to disconnect the 100m long tether from the ROV. We were not sure how close to the ROV we wanted to solder the quick release, but we decided together what length we would solder it at.
We had the amazing opportunity to video chat with Ms. Samantha [Wishnak] from the e/v Nautilus about their massive ROV called Hercules. She was able to talk to us about her daily life on the research vessel and how her team uses Hercules to obtain scientific data. Talking to her and asking her questions was very enlightening because many of us on our team want to pursue a career in ocean science and possible do exactly what Samantha is doing right now.
After the video chat we got to work on finishing the ROV. The first thing we did was try to align and set the lasers on the ROV. There are two red lasers on the front of the ROV right next to the camera. These lasers measure how far away certain objects are from the ROV. This information will be important, along with live visual data from the ROV, to determine how close we want to get to an object underwater. We weren’t able to calibrate the lasers to what the directions wanted. The lasers were actually crossing, so the left laser was creating the right dot 3 meters away, and the right laser was creating the left dot 3 meters away. This is very problematic because that means the lasers are traveling at an angle, so the laser is going to travel further to hit the same object, which will make our measurements inaccurate.
The last thing we did today was a very long and tedious task. We have 100 meters of [tether] cable that came with the ROV, but we want to line all of it in black [expandable PET] webbing to protect the tether. Essentially we needed to feed the 100-meter tether though the black webbing. On top of that the 100-meter cable was very mixed up in the ultimate tangled headphone conundrum. We split off into two teams; one team’s job was to try and untangle the mess of cable, and the other team’s jobs was to feed the cable through the black webbing. We switched off jobs here and there but it ended up taking us nearly two hours. By the end of two hours we had untangled the the monster and made great progress feeding the tether through the black mesh. It was a very rewarding moment in the end. Even though this process wasn’t very exciting, like soldering or solvent welding, it was a necessary step to reach our ultimate goal of completing the ROV.”
Great job team! I’m incredibly proud of all of the team members; their dedication and commitment has really paid off.
Stay tuned, the next time Project Pegasus meets we’ll be submerging Pegasus in water for the first time!!! The clock is ticking; the Edwards Lab leaves for Alaska in just over one month!
-Baron von Urchin
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary