Another Damaged UPS Box


UPS really needs to do something about the way they handle packages! Here's another damaged box I just received this morning. The bottom of the box was completely open! Fortunately (surprisingly) it still contained the O-rings and O-ring lubricant that we ordered from McMaster-Carr. Take a look at the enlarged version of this picture. I love the box brand name and slogan: Reliable Container Corp / Our name says it all.

Electronics Testing

As soon as we finished gluing the frame together (and waiting for the glue to set) we mounted all four thrusters. Our power supply also arrived this week, so I've started testing the electronics and software. I've developed a Visual Basic program that interfaces with a joystick to drive the thrusters. The ROV is a big priority for us this week because we're going to have a table at the Engineering Expo at Sac State this Sunday (tomorrow). We're planning to have an interactive demo where people can grab the joystick and run the thrusters. We're also planning to continuously run our ME 190 presentation on Jacob's laptop.

Frame Assembly

Our ROV frame assembly is complete and we've bonded the piece together using an ABS adhesive. It's exciting to be making progress. It was a really a surprise to all of us how small the frame is. We've been working with drawings and 3D models all last semester and it just seemed like the frame would be bigger. This is a good size though. We put a lot of effort into making our ROV as small as possible. The frame is 19" long, 12" wide, and just 7" tall (with the fairing the ROV will be about 10" tall).

ME190 Design Presentation

I've uploaded our ME190 (the first of a two semester class) senior project presentation. I was hoping to find a better way to distribute it online, but I haven't had time for that and we have to keep moving forward with the project. You'll have to download the zip file and uncompress it to a folder. Then just double-click on the .exe file and use your spacebar or arrowkeys to browse the presentation. You may need a PC as I haven't tried this on a Macintosh yet.

I'd tried something new for this presentation. Typically presentations are done with Microsoft Powerpoint, but I've found PowerPoint to be very limiting, especially if you want to tightly integrate video or animation into it. Of the presentations I've watched, it seems like half the time the videos won't even play. So, for this presentation, I've put the whole thing together using Macromedia (Adobe) Flash. It's a little bit more work, but now that I've figured it out and got the whole thing set up it's just as easy as Powerpoint to add slides. The big advantage is that I can do things that Powerpoint can't -- like seemlessly transition between scenes and play video that actually works.

Thrusters Have Arrived!

Our four Seabotix BTD150 thrusters have arrived! They came via UPS in a badly damaged box labeled "fragile", so hopefully they will actually work (there's no visible damage to the thrusters so they're probably fine). We don't have any way to test them yet, but motor controllers, a micro controller, and a power supply are next on our purchasing list.

Many thanks to Seabotix for giving us a generous discount on the thrusters! Also, thanks to Associated Students Inc (ASI) for the granting us most of the funding to make this purchase. We still have some money to raise, but the thrusters account for almost half of our total estimated cost.


Seabotix BTD150 ThrusterSeabotix BTD150 Thruster

Seabotix BTD150 ThrusterSeabotix BTD150 Thruster

New Website Design

This website has been up for a couple months now, but I finally finished a new design for it. The home page will now be a place for news about our project and we've posted more detailed project information on other pages. Once we start the construction phase we'll have a lot more to write about (and take pictures of).

The Project Begins

Classes haven't even started, but we've already formed a group, selected a project, and starting working. Our team is made up of three members: myself (Benjamin Shell), Jacob McGrew, and Derek Hartl. We're mechanical engineering students at Sacramento State University taking our senior project design classes (ME 190 and 191). The project we've choosen to design and build is a submersible robot (ROV). Many details will follow in the weeks and months to come, so check back here often. We hope you will enjoy the blog.