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¶ Building Underwater Robots for Dummies, day 1
Winnie and I had this somewhat braindead idea to run a short two-day IAP class on building underwater robots. Braindead because we both have too much other stuff to do already. At any rate, neither of us chickened out in time so here we are, teaching 15 people how to build inexpensive robotic submersible vehicles =P

The vehicles are based off of this book called Build your own Underwater Robot and other Wet Projects, with a few of our own touches. Students are split off into teams of two. Each team is given a 10' section of PVC pipe, and they're free to chop it us as they please. We use 12V DC hobby motors from Electronic Goldmine, which are coupled to plastic boat propellors from Tower Hobbies. The motors can be run wet, so there's no need to worry about fancy sealing methods (they corrode and fail after a while, but are only $1.25 each so no big deal). Batteries and the control box are kept dry on shore, and power is run through a CAT5 ethernet cable to the vehicle.

Today we started everyone building. Tomorrow they'll hopefully finish up and start work on some more advanced projects, like building pressure sensor circuits, assembling motor controllers (for computerized motor control), and adding waterproofed video cameras.

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