Introduction: The Perfect ROV

About: Hello there! I'm Lily and welcome to my page! The Instructables I make are inspired by my interests, especially in 3D printing and woodwork. I hope you give my DIYs a shot and please leave a comment on how it …

Although 3D printing is a relatively new technological breakthrough, it has already created opportunities never achievable before; and, to demonstrate its capabilities, I am going to show you how to plan, design, and construct a mini underwater vehicle using this technology. Constructing a mini ROV was first introduced to me in my Advanced 3D Concepts class at Wayland Academy; and, was treated as the end goal after a semester of learning how to plan, design, and power the ROV. This particular project will not only go through the steps on how to build a ROV, but will challenge and improve your hands on skills and expand your creativity while emphasizing on stepping out of your comfort zone. Join me on my personal journey from start to finish and learn how to create your own Mini ROV!

*This project is structured into Phases. There will be a total of 2 Phases and each Phase will have a number of steps.

This project is provided by the Wayland Academy Robotics Program.

Step 1: Gathering Materials for Phase 1

Welcome to the beginning of your journey towards creating your very own mini ROV! Before actually creating an ROV on Inventor or Fusion 360, we do not want to get ahead of ourselves. When starting any project, it is always important to have a well-thought out and detailed orientated plan to follow. This avoids any confusion or errors in the final product. To start progressing towards accomplishing our goal, let us identity what is needed for our ROV and plan out the ROV's design.

* The goals, challenges, and results used from now on are from my personal log entries of this project.

Goals for Step 1-Step 3: Gather materials for and make the control box, designing a ROV, and to complete Challenge 1- hands on modeling.

Step 1.1: Gathering Materials

To be able to progress forward requires having what we need available to us at all times throughout the course of this project. This avoids frustration in the future! The list of materials for Phase 1 is the following:

· 3 motors-Motor version:

· 1 battery pack-Battery type: Duracell C battery

· 1 control box

· 3 switches: Switch version:

· 1 20ft long cable wires (contains small wire pairs inside)

· 1 soldering gun

· “Amazing Goop”-Link to product:

* Grinder (using sandpaper tip and a metal disc tip)

* Drill with small drill bit

* Ruler

* Wire netting

* Scissors and/or pliers

* Wire caps (see Step 1.4)

Step 2: Phase 1 - Step 1.1: Making Space for the Switches

Before getting into designing our ROV, we need to have an energy source that will power the motors to make the ROV propel in the water. To achieve this, we need to make a control box in order to dictate its direction in water. The materials to make this control box includes: 1 battery pack, 1 plastic box (as show in the photo above), 3 switches, a soldering gun, and a drill-power tool. For step 1.2, you only need the drill-power tool, a ruler, a grinder, and switches.

Step 1.) Measure the length and width of the switches with a ruler- unit used when measuring does not matter.

Step 2.) Draw out the rectangle measurements horizontally on the cover of the plastic box. Make sure each rectangle is spaced evenly from one another.

Step 3.) Using the drill, drill out four holes in each corner of a rectangle.

Step 4.) Now use the grinder to cut lines between each hole in order to cut out the rectangle.

Step 5.) Once the rectangular hole has been drilled, test to see if the switch fits securely. If it does not fit, grind out the sides that are obstructing the switch from fitting in the hole; but, do not over grind or the switch will just fall through.

Step 6.) Use the drill to make a small hole on one of the short sides of the control box to allow the cable wire to reach the battery case that will be inside the control box.

See the images above for an example of the finished product.

Step 3: Phase 1- Step 1.2: Soldering the Switches

Now that the switches are fitted into the cover of the control box, it is time to do some soldering; but, what is soldering? Soldering is the process in which two metals are melded together using a filer metal as the joining mechanism. In this case, we will be melding the copper wires to the metal prongs underneath the switches using rosin core solder. Before soldering, it is important to comprehend how positive (+) and negative (-) energy works.

In order for the motors to go the correct direction, left/right, up/down, and forward/backward on command, the flow of electrical energy must be wired correctly to the switches. Positive energy, when applied to a motor with a connected axil, will spin clockwise; but, when negative energy is applied to the axil, the axil will spin counterclockwise. This is how the motors will be able to move in opposite directions.

How to start soldering:

  1. Cut red and white wires that are a little longer than the distance between the metal prongs (see diagram above)
  2. Use scissors or pliers to remove the plastic covering from the copper wire at the tips. Do not be too aggressive for you might snap the copper wire.
  3. Make sure soldering gun is plugged in and warmed up before applying the rosen core solder.
  4. Make sure red or white copper wire are threaded through the metal prongs and will not move easily.
  5. Apply solder to the copper wire and the two metal prongs and ta da!

Use the link below to see the desired outcome after soldering:

Step 4: Phase 1-Step 1.3: Soldering the 20ft Cable Wires to the Switches and Finishing Touches

Now that the red and white wires have now been soldered to the switches to create the "electric jump", it is time to solder the 20ft cable wire pairs to the switches in order for the energy to power the motors. Similar materials and will be needed for this process:

  • Solder
  • Soldering gun
  • Goop
  • 20ft cable wires
  • Scissors or pliers.
  • Wire caps

The process mirrors Step 1.2 with one variation:

  1. Use the scissors or pliers to remove the plastic casing of the 20ft cable that is surrounding the wire pairs.

2. Once the copper wire is exposed on both ends of each wire pair (using the scissors or pliers), apply the solder to the metal prongs underneath the motors.

Use the link below to see the desired outcome after soldering:

Step 5: Phase 1-Step 1.4: 2D Drawing and 3D Modeling.

If you haven't had fun yet, then I promise that the real fun starts now! With the control box wired up and ready to roll, we can focus our attention to actually designing our ROV. I will be showing you how to recreate my personal ROV, but I strongly encourage you to create your own.

WARNING: This may be hard for some of you out there, and I am saying that out of personal experience; but, don't let that stop you. The key to creativity is not worrying about the restraints of the physical world. You must block it out so your creativity can expand and reach its full potential. Moreover, there is no wrong way when it comes to innovating or inventing. Do not view an idea as useless or as impossible, for it very well could be successful. Stick with it till you complete it, then analyze how your design can become more compatible with real world circumstances.

All you will need for the 2D design segment is:

  • Notebook and a pencil.

For the 3D design segment you need:

  • Wire netting
  • scissors, clippers, or pliers (sharp edge)

The link below will show you the rough process of 2D drawing and 3D modeling when I was completing this step in Phase 1:

Step 6: Gathering Materials for Phase 2

The electrical connections between the switches and motors have been made and our first drafts of our ROV have been drawn out. You are half way there and it time to start Phase 2! For Phase 2, we want to accomplish the following goals:

  1. Water proof the motors.
  2. Design our ROV on Fusion 360 and 3D print.
  3. Assemble the ROV.
  4. Test the ROV.

The materials we will need for Phase 2 is:

  • Our 3 motors.
  • PVC pipe
  • "Goop"
  • PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Grinder
  • Hot glue gun and glue gun sticks.
  • Ruler
  • PC or Apple computer. I will be using Fusion 360 on an Apple MacBook Air, but Autodesk also works on a PC.
  • Pliers
  • A pool (large container) of water in order to test the ROV.
  • A dust mask.
  • Flash drive

Step 7: Phase 2-Step 2.1: Waterproofing the Motors.

As you have probably been told by your parents, electricity and water do not go together for it can be life threatening! From a more scientific standpoint, when water comes in contact with electrical equipment it causes the electricity to radiate throughout the water, causing an electrical shortage. When this occurs, your motors will no longer work! To prevent all your hard work from being lost, it is important to waterproof your motors. We will use the following materials to waterproof the motors:

  • PVC pipe
  • PVC Pipe Cutter
  • "Goop"
  • Hot glue gun
  • Grinder
  • A dust mask.

Use the link below to see each step and the desired outcome after waterproofing:

Step 8: Phase 2-Step 2.2: Creating the ROV on Fusion 360

Congratulations! You have created all the necessary equipment in order for your ROV to function correctly. But, we still don't have an ROV to actually use; Let's fix that! I will be showing you how I made my ROV on Fusion 360, a downloadable computer software exclusively made for Apple Mac products, used to create three-dimensional objects. I will be providing you the steps to recreate my ROV and helpful tips if you are making your own. Here is what you will need for this part in Phase 2:

  • PC or Mac laptop
  • Accessibility to WiFi
  • Accessibility to a 3D printer
  • Flash drive

You can use either Fusion 360 for Apple or Autodesk Inventor for PC in order to create your ROV. Here are the links to download either one of these programs depending on what type of computer you have:

(These links are for students, but you can buy the program if you are not a student)

Fusion 360:

Autodesk Inventor:

Below, I will be providing the necessary blueprints to recreating the parts needed to make my ROV. When making or recreating a product, always make sure that each fundamental part is measured and accounted for before entering assembly. Assembly occurs after creating all the necessary parts in which you physically put all the parts together. Some parts may be stationary or movable depending on what you are making. For this project in particular, all parts are stationary. The links below provide the blueprints to creating the pieces of my ROV:

Part 1 Blueprint:

Part 2 Blueprint:

Part 3 Blueprint:

Part 4 Blueprint:

Downloadable Propeller (Make 3 in total, cut the bottoms off once printed, and put on motors in Step 2.4):

(You may make your own propeller or download a different propeller if you would like.)

When making these parts, make sure each part is created in a separate file with its associated title. When assembling, you will import the files into a main file where the ROV will be built. Once you have created all the necessary parts, you can start assembling!!!

Step 9: Phase 2-Step 2.3: Assembling Your ROV

You have the pieces, but now you need to assemble it to print it into existence. If you made your own parts for a custom ROV, make sure to create a new file for assembly. If you are recreating my ROV, still make a new assembly file and following the steps below on how to create the final product. Now, you may still be unfamiliar with how to position and attach each part together correctly, and that is ok! To get to know Fusion 360 and/or Autodesk Inventor with all its functions, use the links below:

Fusion 360:

Autodesk Inventor:

* To comprehend individual commands, just hover over the command and it will give you an example and explanation on how it works (this is in Fusion and Inventor).

Here is the step by step instructions on how to assemble my ROV:

Once you have made the ROV on Fusion 360 or Autodesk Inventor, you have to convert the file into a file that will be compatible with your 3D printer. To determine what file your 3D printer reads, look it up online or ask your teacher.

It may take several hours to print your ROV, but be patient! When you have your ROV print or a recreated version of my ROV, use the grinder to grind down the holes just in case your motors don't fit. After the holes are large enough, but not too big in which the motors fall through, push your motors into their designated areas.

Step 10: Phase 2-Step 2.4: Testing Your ROV

You have finally made it to the last step of Phase 2! Congrats, but your not quite done yet! Now that you have done all that hard work, its time to see if your ROV or my recreated ROV will make or break after going through a test run. To test your ROV, fill a large bucket or pool with water. Make sure the container is deep enough so the propellers can spin freely and not get damaged. To get your ROV ready for testing, put the motors into their designated holes then attach each propeller to each motor's axial. Test each motor by turning on each switch before putting it in water.

If that is all OK, then its time to put it into the water!!! Make sure the water completely fills the ROV so it is weighed down. If it floats, drill small holes in the sides of the ROV that are floating the most. This will allow the water to enter those holes and make the ROV heavier. After such adjustments are made, try each motor and see if the ROV will move left/right, front/back, and up/down. From personal experience, the up/down motion was the hardest to achieve due to the ROV being too nose heavy. No matter the outcome, if your ROV has enough motor power and the propellers function correctly, your ROV should move quite efficiently.

The video above shows how my ROV functioned during a test run!

Congratulations! You have just made your very own Mini ROV, be proud!