AutoSpool: Automatic Tether Management



Hey folks,

I am going to design an automated tether management system, and I’m going to post details about my process, design, and progress here and on my website:

Building the ultimate tether management solution isn’t going to happen overnight, so this project is an accelerated 6-week build to see what I can cobble together before I join the OpenROV crew on their trip to Tahoe this June:

The goal is to make a big first step towards easy tether management, even if it’s just a 3D printer spool with a motor glued to it. (Hopefully it’s more than that!)

Please help me out by telling me the craziest, most genie-in-a-bottle features that you would like to see from an AutoSpool, and any advice or ideas on tether management in general. My hope is to keep posting every 2-3 days with progress, and to have a working system to show on the Tahoe expedition.

Wish me luck!


Tear apart a bait-cast fishing reel that has a line leveler and incorporate that functionality into your design. This will keep twists and bunching to a minimum, if not reduce it altogether.

Another “genie-in-a-bottle” feature would to incorporate some sort of fresh-water wash/rinse systems as the line is retrieved (if using in a salt/cruddy water environment). An on-the-bike chain cleaner could be a starting point for ideas on this one.

Best of luck.


Todd, these are great ideas, thanks! I didn’t know the right word for a levelwind on a fishing reel, your post opened up a bunch of good information for me.


Even though I have not finished my built yet, I would recommend to use a wireless connection from the top box to your device. Simply attach a small router to your rotation wheel, and you can easily connect to your computer, tablet etc. :slight_smile:


I’m working on a tether management system myself; designed for ROV deployment from an RC boat. I want a single winch motor to be hooked up to 2 spools with a magic gear/clutch system that allows me to lower/hoist an anchor as well as the ROV.

I’ll let you know if i get my gear box out of Autodesk Inventor and into production… :slight_smile:


I have had totally the same though but with a mini custom ROV how weird let me know if you end up doing it, mine if i get round to it would be a pet project.


Thought this was pretty interesting