BlueRobotics Marine ROV Thrusters

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
edited April 2015 in Robotics Vote Up0Vote Down
I'd like to bring this company, which got its start via Kickstarter, to the forum's attention. BlueRobotics makes thrusters for marine ROVs. I'm using their T100 thrusters (image below) in the class I'm teaching. They are very sound performers, are reasonably priced, and do not corrode in salt water. They also sell reversible ESCs for the 3-phase brushless DC motors used in the thrusters, along with waterproof (IP67: 1 meter submersion) servos from Hitec. (The thrusters themselves have been tested to 3000 meters depth (4500 p.s.i.) by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.)

Anyone who's done marine ROVs knows how limited the choices heretofore have been for thrusters: i.e. bilge pump motors with improvised props, Minn Kota electric trolling motors, or very expensive commercial ROV thrusters. BlueRobotics thrusters are filling a glaringly empty middle gap in this market.

The company has obviously adopted (perhaps without realizing it) the Parallax model for responsiveness to customer needs, and I can recommend them without reservation.

-Phil

perspective-photo-1-e1407701672535-500x500.png
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Comments

  • 38 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • ercoerco Posts: 18,497
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    High praise and great info from one of our most respected Forumistas! Site bookmarked for future reference.

    Now you have me thinking about a one-servo ROV. Hmmm.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • xanaduxanadu Posts: 3,106
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    It sucks owning a kayak and scuba gear, living by top diving spots and having no ROV.

    Is it hard to control an ROV using two vectored thrusters instead of four fixed?

    Two of these, some PVC pipe, glue, Propeller, La Jolla Cove, I can see it now.
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,720
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks PhilippePi Cousteau! Looks like a great product. ROV work is the closest any of us will ever get to what NASA does - with a few exceptions here on the Forums (think Dave Hein).

    Now to go explore some swamps...Sounds like a good way to loose a thruster!

    attachment.php?attachmentid=113932&d=1429361699
    635 x 400 - 69K
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • macrobeakmacrobeak Posts: 196
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil,
    Thanks for the heads-up.
    These thrusters are a low cost breakthrough in the field of underwater robotics.
    They are just what I have been hoping for!
    Now for someone to breakthrough in low cost underwater sonar!
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,322
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I too have been waiting for these thrusters, Powerful and Lite weight.. My biggest problem is that I want three of them on the same Bot...

    Whit, how ever are you going to get that thing to sit still long enough to attach the thrusters?.. Video would be awesome, probably NSFW I think, but still awesome...


    -Tommy
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,720
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ttailspin wrote: »
    Whit, how ever are you going to get that thing to sit still long enough to attach the thrusters?.. Video would be awesome, probably NSFW I think, but still awesome...

    @Tommy - LOL!
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 3,730
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil, can you comment on how slow these thrusters will run?
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    W9GFO wrote:
    Phil, can you comment on how slow these thrusters will run?
    I don't think there's a lower limit. With the ESCs they operate just like continuous-rotation servos.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • LoopyBytelooseLoopyByteloose Posts: 12,537
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Very very long over due. ROV Thrusters that can tolerate depth have long been out of reach of the hobby market, but the numbers of those wanting to buy has kept on increasing.
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    All things considered, I can live and thrive without Microsoft products. LINUX is just fine.
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 3,730
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I don't think there's a lower limit. With the ESCs they operate just like continuous-rotation servos.

    That would be good but generally brushless motors have a minimum speed they will run at.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Ah, so. I guess I'll have to test one then. In any event, I'm sure they can be pulsed on and off to achieve as low an average thrust as you want, given their inertia in water.

    BTW, my students determined that a small (<20 lb.) ROV propelled by two thrusters could achieve speeds in excess of 5 mph. Maximum speed is not, however, the most efficient point on the power curve.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • TtailspinTtailspin Posts: 1,322
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    ...Maximum speed is not, however, the most efficient point on the power curve.

    -Phil

    That's exactly what I tried to tell all my previous employers... I should put that on a Tee Shirt!.

    ...BTW, my students determined that a small (<20 lb.) ROV propelled by two thrusters could achieve speeds in excess of 5 mph....
    I bet that was a fun day for them. :thumb:


    -Tommy
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    xanadu wrote: »
    Two of these, some PVC pipe, glue, Propeller, La Jolla Cove, I can see it now.

    If I still lived in San Diego, I'd be all over this (I've spent many many days in the La Jolla Cove and the surrounding area).

    Here in Chubbuck Idaho, all I've got near by are some irrigation canals. I need to figure out some way to justify getting a couple of these thrusts.

    I recall seeing these when the KickStarter was still active. IMO, this is a perfect KickStarter project. People who knew what they were doing leveraging the power the bulk purchasing. (I'm not always so impressed with what I see churn through KickStarter.)

    Let's see. . . there is a reservoir not too far away. I'm sure there's some important and practical reason why I need to explore its depths with a ROV.
  • rjehangirrjehangir Posts: 1
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    W9GFO,

    The thrusters will run down to about 300 RPM. Below that the speed controllers have trouble sensing the back-EMF field and running the motor. At that speed they get almost neglible thrust, around 0.03 lb.

    -Rusty @ BlueRobotics
  • NWCCTVNWCCTV Posts: 3,629
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Duane Degn wrote: »
    Here in Chubbuck Idaho, all I've got near by are some irrigation canals. I need to figure out some way to justify getting a couple of these thrusts
    One of those 3 foot deep Walmart pools would work!!!!
    Andy North

    My Index Page:
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,488
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Duane Degn wrote: »
    Let's see. . . there is a reservoir not too far away. I'm sure there's some important and practical reason why I need to explore its depths with a ROV.

    Reservoirs used to be fun to dive in.

    Old open pit mines can be interesting. Sometimes there is interesting stuff to explore that was left over from the mining operations. They can often be relatively clear water also since all the dirt is long gone and you are down to rock and any silt is from runoff water after it became a body of water.

    Reservoirs caused by damming rivers are always exciting. The water is generally murky and since they often don't clear the area before damming things up, you can find all kinds of things. Lots of trees to run into and get tangled up in. This would be a great opportunity to try SONAR in addition to you cameras.

    You can always mount a scrubber brush and offer to clean the local pool! :D
    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,772
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    rjehangir wrote: »
    W9GFO,

    The thrusters will run down to about 300 RPM. Below that the speed controllers have trouble sensing the back-EMF field and running the motor. At that speed they get almost neglible thrust, around 0.03 lb.

    -Rusty @ BlueRobotics

    Thanks for the info, and welcome to the forums!

    Jim
    Infernal Machine
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 3,730
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    rjehangir wrote: »
    W9GFO,

    The thrusters will run down to about 300 RPM. Below that the speed controllers have trouble sensing the back-EMF field and running the motor. At that speed they get almost neglible thrust, around 0.03 lb.

    -Rusty @ BlueRobotics

    Thanks, good to know. One further question, any plans to offer a symmetrical prop? For my purposes I would need equal thrust in both directions.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hey Rusty,

    Welcome to the Parallax Forum! I'm glad you found your way here. (Was it the photo link from here in your server's log file that tipped you off? :) ) Anyway, I think you'll find a lot of interest among Parallax's customers in your products.
    __________________

    I went with a couple of my students down to a local dock to test their ROV under both RC and GPS control. RC control worked fine. Under GPS control, it was programmed to go out to a racing buoy and back. I had tuned it via the GPS/Google-Earth simulation I wrote awhile back. But the simulation dynamics didn't come close to matching the real thing, and the ROV just spun in circles -- grossly over-correcting I guess. With new GPS data coming only once per second and a very responsive differential drive (thrusters are only 12" apart), I will probably have to adjust the programmed velocity profile -- especially when turning.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Duane DegnDuane Degn Posts: 10,002
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    mindrobots wrote: »
    Reservoirs caused by damming rivers are always exciting. The water is generally murky and since they often don't clear the area before damming things up, you can find all kinds of things. Lots of trees to run into and get tangled up in. This would be a great opportunity to try SONAR in addition to you cameras.

    This is one made from a dam. It would be very interesting to see what's down inside the reservoir.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Falls_Dam

    I'll probably resist purchasing the thrusters unless erco decides I need them. He can make me buy just about anything. I have a 4" blue hamster ball sitting in front of me to prove it.
  • ercoerco Posts: 18,497
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Duane Degn wrote: »
    I'll probably resist purchasing the thrusters unless erco decides I need them. He can make me buy just about anything. I have a 4" blue hamster ball sitting in front of me to prove it.

    @Duane, my young Padawan: These Are the Thrusters You're Looking For!

    Take two Blue Robotics thrusters, put on the blue hamster ball and call me in the morning.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,043
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Does anyone have any pictures of these in use?

    Maybe it's just me, but I struggle to find a practical use for these. You could
    - make some sort of human puller, but then you'd probably need SCUBA gear to make it worth while.
    - make a tethered rover. But where would you drive it? Unless you have a boat to get to interesting places (shipwrecks?), you're pretty limited. I'd imagine silt gets old pretty fast.
    - make a powered surface boat. But then why not just buy and convert an RC model?
    - ???

    Especially complicating the whole system is the lack of suitable underwater sensors or navigation solutions (except possibly a compass?).

    I think these are really cool, and definitely appeal to the geek side of me, but I'm not sure what I'd do with one (or six).
  • W9GFOW9GFO Posts: 3,730
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    SRLM wrote: »
    Maybe it's just me, but I struggle to find a practical use for these. You could...
    - make a tethered rover. But where would you drive it? Unless you have a boat to get to interesting places (shipwrecks?), you're pretty limited..

    Boats really aren't that uncommon. I just sold my larger boat recently to replace it with a simple small 14ft aluminum, the intention is to use it in conjunction with my autonomous solar boat - and maybe an ROV. It only cost me $300, and that's with electric motor and trailer.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    SRLM wrote:
    Does anyone have any pictures of these in use?
    Yep. Here's a short video:

    [video=vimeo;116122593]

    Maybe it's just me, but I struggle to find a practical use for these.

    My students have a "contract" with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center to assist with their sea star survey. Their ROVs (a.k.a. "ASVs" autonomous surface vehicles) will be dispatched to nearby tide shallows to photograph the bottom (through the transparent polycarbonate waterproof box) from the surface, guided by GPS waypoints. Here's a photo of one team's full-sized model (the one alluded to above):

    attachment.php?attachmentid=113997&d=1429930967

    I also have a friend who does eelgrass surveys. Occasionally there are areas that he cannot survey (e.g. tide flats and estuaries) due to their being too shallow for his vessel. A GPS-guided, shallow-draft ROV such as these would be ideal for such an app.

    -Phil
    928 x 531 - 147K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,043
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks for sharing. I'm impressed with how maneuverable the foam boats are.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,350
    edited April 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    SRLM wrote:
    I'm impressed with how maneuverable the foam boats are.
    Truth be known, they're a little TOO maneuverable. Programming one of these to stay on a GPS course is going to be tricky, given that they turn on a dime very quickly, and the GPS course data comes but once per second. I'm encouraging my students to add fins to their craft for more directional stability. One team has done so on their own, and I think theirs will be the easiest to control.

    I've also written a Spin driver for the ESCs that pulses the motors on and off when the programmed pulse width is between 1450 and 1550 usec, in order to make sure that "slow" is really slow. This still ignores inertial effects, which can be significant with a craft that skims across the surface.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery


  • This video above is very interesting. It was on a thread that may be made inactive.

    See more about the SeaDrone here. An article is also here on IEEE Spectrum about the idea's developement (Stanford brains again!).

    It really might be fun to develop an inexpensive hobby/educational bot (ala Phil Pilgrim's work here) - like the ELEV-8 for underwater use.

    This fits Parallax's mission. The SeaDrone seems to have the "right stuff" for such an idea/concept - revised, of course, and made available in an ELEV-8 sort of package. We need Parallax Control (brains) and the educational materials - but this could be really fun!

    In Louisiana, this could be a natural with our rivers, lakes and bayous - a wonderful educational opportunity... This really has me thinking about an area of robotics that would be interesting to more fully explore - practical - and educational for students of all ages!

    What do you think Phil, Ken, others?

    See my post about this at my blog - Robotics Under the Stole - http://roboticsunderthestole.blogspot.com/2016/05/underwater-robotics.html
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    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • I am reposting this information here for anyone who may need a quick and cheap bi-directional ESC for an underwater thruster;
    "I have been experimenting with a common EMax BLHeli ESC and the EMax Program card. I have found that the ESC can be programmed quite easily to be bidirectional, and it works very smoothly and robustly.
    This is great news and it means that small bi-directional brushless motors can easily be used for land wheeled robots and water robot thrusters!"
  • WhitWhit Posts: 3,720
    edited May 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Just visited the Blue Robotics site - Lots of interesting products!

    Did not know about this either - Looks like Blue Robotics has already made a really nice underwater platform! See - http://docs.bluerobotics.com/bluerov/
    Whit+

    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
  • Whit,

    Blue Robotics is a great company. They handled their KickStarter campaign very well (as opposed to these guys: http://hackaday.com/2016/05/11/peachy-printer-collapses-investor-built-a-house-instead-of-a-printer/ Buyer beware!), and continue to deliver great products.

    The seaweed thing is an issue, though. For surface vehicles, and based on this year's class project, I'm becoming convinced that paddle wheels are the way to go. Okay, they're much slower and less efficient than a prop-driven craft. But for underwater photography, you don't need speed, just reliable navigation. And they don't seem to have as many problems with seaweed fouling.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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