Cable management while driving



I have noticed in colin's report that managing the cable was a pain.

Has anyone thought about building a system that would manage the tether properly?

I have seen that screw spooling could be useful.

Any thought on this subject?

As fas as I am concerned, it seems critical...

Kind regards,



A few people - John Stager and Eric and others - have built their own rigs. This is definitely something we need to work on. Any ideas or contributions are greatly encouraged/welcome!


My tether reel is very simple. I just welded up a "foot" to attach the hose reel that I bought at Tractor Supply. The handle is nice for carrying it to the dive site.

Getting the cable to float was the hard part. See picture.

This project sure is a lot of fun!

1266-OpenROVtetherreel.jpg (215 KB) 1267-tetherreelfront.jpg (149 KB)



This seems great!

I have noticed a plug... I guess it's waterproof. Where did you get it?

That would be great to disconnect the ROV sometimes...

Thanks for the pictures.




The plug/connector I am using for the network cable is not water proof. I have several of the male and female connectors laying around from previous projects so I thought I would use them. They are Philmore microphone connectors. The male side I mounted to the plastic electronics housing and potted the inside where the wires go through. I have not had trouble with leaks but I have not been very deep. I have re-cut the electronic tube ends for the connectors and the temperature and pressure sensors. I have tried 5 different tethers and am not worried it the connector goes bad. I am always changing stuff and would just put a new one on.


Hi all,

Thanks for your feedbacks.

Honestly I feel frustrated by the cable management. I'am planning to explore new points at sea from a small moving boat. I really don't want to take care of the cable.

That's why with a bunch of friends we started to sketch up a smart spooler: while rotating, a kind of finger takes care of sorting the cable. The first version will be mechanical only, but we already plan to add a motor.

Wouldn't it be cool to manage the tether while driving directly from the xbox remote?

To give you an idea, here is the prototype:

What do you think of this idea?

Has anyone tried this kind of stuff before?

Kind regards,



@ John Stager

The simplest solution to make a tether neutral or just float is hollow poly braid rope and thread the wire trough the center of it ,i have done this for decades with a piece of Alum Rod as the "needle " . Poly braid expands but also shortens as you fill the center so you poly needs to be much longer than the cable and it is rough on the hands when you smooth it down to the tightest fit to the cable use gloves (I know LOL).

Reel methods are great but learning to figure 8 or the so called Clam lay is a skill every " Tender " should know both keep the cable/umbilical from intermittent loops forming causing a "Cluster F@#k" tangle .


Hi John,

I am really interested in your idea with the hollow poly braid rope.

I'm interested to learn more about your technique. Do you just thread it in haphazardly or is there an obvious hollow core you pull it down? Do long runs cause a problem?

What did you mean about smoothing it down to the tightest fit?



1/4" and 3/8" standard braided poly rope yellow is hollow grasp it about 6" apart with your hands and push them together just a bit and the rope will swell and reveal it is hollow looking a like a "finger trap" , you run the wire right up the middle by length wise compression of the rope to open it up i use a 1/4" aluminum rod about 8 ' long with the wire threaded through a hole in one end . Compress and advance until you are out the end the rope will be much shorter so you start at the vehicle and slowly smooth and stretch the rope out over the now wire core, this is rough on the hands but pulled tightly over the wire core it is a great chafe protection and flotation and strength member .

It can be eye spliced in the same fashion forming a loop ,going in the side of the braid between the weave and up the center with the bitter end , loop around a tie point like an eye bolt then again going through the weave side into the center feed your wire in and and you once "adjusted" have it a wire core poly covered non slippery bigger diameter than the wire and probably far stronger than the wire alone with excellent faking characteristics umbilical is made really very simple it will take time but the result is worth it !


Reel on my #17

old 1" audio mastering tape

discharge magnetic tape,

make a circular plate install a slip ring on center.

other plate with a slip knob


works fine on my OPRV #17



I don't think I ever mentioned to you that THIS IS AWESOME! We've been using some PVC pieces that allow us to coil the tether in a figure-eight pattern so it doesn't get twisted (maybe I'll post about that here too), but your system looks very pro.



I agree! There are several threads in the forum that discuss this topic. I am interested in modifying Stefan's idea to couple with an electric drill.

It would be nice to get Stefan's idea into the github design ideas so that anyone could make one by going to a sign printer/cutter (laser cutter service).

Dozuki - New Basic Management System

Stefan's Custom Job


Hi John,

Thank you for the advice. Your idea sounds so good I went out and bought it right away. We just finished assembly of ROV 513 and it's going to have a nice thether because of you! Thank you again.


I found a great excel spreadsheet for determining the proper reel dimensions for a given length and thickness of wire. Download the Spreadsheet

1249-SpoolWireLengthCalculator.xls (238 KB)