NASA engineer Eric Stackpole may be changing the face of ocean exploration with his open-source submarine made from inexpensive parts. The New York Times’ Brian Lam had a very nice post on the Bits Blog (and some extra details at another site he runs, Scuttlefish) about this $750 machine that’s rated to 100 meters, which is “below the range that divers can easily reach for long periods of time.”
That price tag is really something special, especially compared to the $10,000 professional ROV “Scout” from Videoray, which the Bits Blog post says can be used to a depth of only 76 meters. And it’s certainly a big chunk off of the expensive deep sea exploration devices like the Alvin, which explored the Titanic wreck site to the tune of $55,000 a day (and that’s 1986 dollars!).
Mr. Stackpole can’t afford exotic alloys or custom technology for his little sub. … The depth sensor they plan to use is commonly found in a scuba diver’s computer. High definition video camera is scavenged from a cheap Web-camera that people use to video chat. The most expensive part inside is the computer, a little Linux computer called a BeagleBone that costs $89. Still, the team thinks they can get costs down by buying parts in bulk.
Also, a quick shout out: Stackpole’s OpenROV is yet another cool project to come out of TechShop in San Francisco.
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