This project supported design and construction of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for project-based education and outreach activities. Although RETINA (a NASA project) and C-DEBI had already been using switch-controlled ROVs with 3 thrusters for E&O programs at Monterey and Catalina Island, those ROVs were difficult to control, required frequent repair, and were not easily adapted for scientific data collection. With this C-DEBI subaward, three students in the Ecosystem Electronics Lab at CSU Monterey Bay were hired to design and build six improved ROVs. Their new design — dubbed the “Catalina” — features: 1) greater reliability, 2) intuitive joystick control and a 4th thruster for better maneuverability, 3) lights and camera to record HD video for later analysis, and 4) attachment points for student-designed sensors or sampling tools. Each ROV is optimized for operation from a wharf or floating dock in seawater up to 15 m deep. Three are stationed at Catalina Island, where they are used in C-DEBI’s GEM summer course and other education/outreach programs. Three others support field trips for local classes (4th grade through college) and teacher training workshops in the Monterey area. One was used briefly for education activities in Micronesia. Over 300 students have used these 6 new ROVs in the past year. In addition, a more advanced ROV platform was developed for demonstration by RETINA and/or C-DEBI. This more advanced ROV remains with the Ecosystem Electronics Lab and serves as a test bed for evaluating the feasibility and educational benefits of other potential ROV upgrades.
- All designs are freely available