Long time no see, Citizen Explorers!
I had to take a brief hiatus from my OpenROV building and blogging, as my schoolwork has become much more time-demanding. My original goal was to have Lil’ Blue up and running in hopes of demonstrating it at the 3rd Annual Atlanta Mini Maker Faire (AMMF) at my college, Georgia Tech. Unfortunately, I encountered a number of roadblocks - some being silly mistakes on my part - which set me back and left me little time to update you all. I’ll be starting my build blog back up once time permits. The posts will recap my work leading up to the Maker Faire, and the rest leading up to the ROV’s completion.
Roughly 3/4ths of the ROV was completed by AMMF on October 26th. Honestly, I was pretty upset I didn't have Lil' Blue up and running in time, but on the day of, I could not have been more surprised and delighted by the outpouring of enthusiasm for OpenROV at my booth!
The setup consisted of: (1) ROV components laid out in their semi-complete state with labels for their function and purpose. (2) Laptop and computer monitor showing the OpenROV webpage. (3) Posters about OpenROV, including a blank page asking visitors, “If you had an OpenROV, what would you do with it?” My friends and I agreed our favorite response, hands down, was “mermaid stalker.”
In lieu of a functioning robot, I had planned to use Rodrigo Teski’s 3D simulator to demonstrate what its like to pilot an OpenROV. For some reason the website wasn't working that day, but it's an excellent resource and I encourage anyone wishing to see what it's like controlling the ROV via the cockpit GUI should definitely check it out! (Link)
As previously mentioned, interest for OpenROV was overwhelmingly positive! From setup to breakdown, people of all ages and backgrounds came by to inquire about this little blue robot. The Mission Aquarius video played on repeat; the beautiful views of an OpenROV navigating the crystal clear water - as well as the exotic fish to be found - captivated and awed. With my family assisting me, we did our best to address every inquiry for how it works, how much it costs, how can it stimulate K-12 STEM education, and so forth.
My favorite part was hearing other’s suggestions and constructive criticism for the project. One comment that stood out to me came from a gentleman who was familiar with OpenROV, but hoped to see a scaled-down version which required less intensive electronic assembly, but with a chassis made from found objects like soda bottles, thus making the building process more kid-friendly.
The crowd diversity was incredible: SCUBA-certified kids, former marine biologists, retired engineers, teachers with their students, members of local makerspaces, and parents - supporting their children’s interests in art and science - who even traveled from rural Georgia and neighboring areas with fewer science and technology resources.
Lastly, exciting news for the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire team: with an estimated attendance of over 10,000 people, the event is eligible to become a full-fledged Maker Faire! By graduating from “mini” status, they will receive benefits such as additional promotions from Make Magazine and the capacity to support larger numbers of makers and attendees.
All-in-all, it was a great day, and I’m glad I was able to participate and share the experience with my family and friends. P.S - If I met you at AMMF, don’t be a stranger!