(Photos, top to bottom: waterproofing/Plastidipping the soldered tetherline connections with the 6th graders; the 9th grade team poses with their newly painted vehicle, the Scorpion.)
I'm working with two ROV design teams: a group of about 15 middle schoolers, grades 6-8, and a group of four 9th graders. Both teams have designed and painted frames. At this point, the kids are learning how the electronics are installed and configured; they are doing an apprenticeship, observing and assisting, while I lead. The roles will reverse with our next round of designs, presumably this winter.
The middle school frame, called the SS-MS Sub by designer/builder Derek, is further along, with the lights and thrusters installed, wired, soldered, and waterproofed. It's likely we'll have the control box constructed and the ROV in the pool in early October. The vehicle's equipped with two video cameras, two 20 watt halogen lights, and three bilge thrusters -- two 800 gpm for the horizontal thrusters, and a 1000 gpm for the vertical. The tetherline's 10 meters long, determined more by the amount of wire I have than the desire of the group.
Clearly, the speed of the work is a tribute to our experience at ISM in the last several years, particularly with respect to the last ROV, the Sea Monkey, the design of which inspired our current frames. Misha and Kevin's insight last year continues a model for us now.