SCORE! Pre-Order an Underwater Servo Prototype


We at OpenROV are proud to announce that we have designed a special waterproof servo, capable of operating at depths exceeding 100m.

Check out the pre-order page:

We believe that adding this capability to the hobbyist-level market will have a tremendous impact on what people can do with their underwater creations. For example, one could use the servo to build an underwater robot arm, trigger a water or sediment sampler, or drop a clump weight after your vehicle has made it to the bottom of a deep lake. We are very excited to see how these servos are going to be used.

Here are a few projects that already use this device:

The servo has a standard three-wire servo connector so it can be adapted for use in many different projects. It is compatible with OpenROV 2.7 through the auxiliary wires but will require modification to the controller board. More detailed instructions and integration documentation will be released soon.

We expect the servo to be available in August.

This is our first stab at a waterproof servo. So far we’ve done basic testing in the field (watch a video of our first test at Lake Tahoe here), as well as tests in our pressure vessel with both freshwater and seawater. Before starting out with this servo here’s a list of some things to be aware of:

  • Spline extender is not held concentric - some oil may leak out when spline is loaded
  • Bottom panel is weak near screw holes - may crack open if dropped
  • Currently doesn’t have a ready-to-go mounting solution - you will need to figure out a way to attach it to your device for now
  • Wiring it to your OpenROV will require some modification to the control board and installation of software/firmware to control the servo

The servo, like all the things in the experimental section of the store is community supported through the forums and is intended for advanced users or developers.

A note from our master and commander, Eric,

“As long as any of us have worked on ROVs, we’ve felt a need for a simple waterproof actuator that could be used to move things around deep below the surface. The classical hobby servo has played an instrumental role in the fields of robotics, remote control aircraft, cars, and boats, and more broadly in the Make Movement, but no such device has ever existed for doing things more than a meter or so below the surface.
After extensive searching, we were able to find numerous “waterproof” servos that are designed to handle splashes from going through snow and puddles, but none of them are actually pressure proof. Because they are in air-filled housings, bringing these servos to more than a meter or so of depth would cause water to leak into the electronics and they would soon fail.

On the other side of the spectrum, industrial ROVs often use water (and pressure) proof actuators which can be bought as modules, but they are way too big for typical hobby use and can cost thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars each.

We’ve decided to change all that.”