Plumbing the depths with NAS

Giles Adams is a member of NAS and the North Dorset Sub Aqua Club and he explains the shenanigans that ocurred during an impromptu ROV making course at this fieldschool.

After six and a half hours of driving from a wet Dorset we arrived at the fieldschool to find a glorious evening complete with sunset in the far reaches of Wales. However the wet weather followed us and led to all diving being cancelled. Hey Ho.

One of the diving replacement activities was designing, making and testing our own underwater ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicle). With the combined knowledge of a catering manager (fellow North Dorset SAC member Kathryn) and a wanna-be retired DIYer (Giles) we quickly assembled the LEGO-type components into a rough-a-ready contraption with motors approximating the £150,000 commercial-grade monster we had seen once on a video.

Giles and Kathryn with their DIY ROV mark 1

As there was a competitive atmosphere between the ROV building teams, there was a bit of friendly sabotage with bits and pieces stolen from rival ROVs and then other bits stolen back! This, and our inexperience, contributed to the need for ROV mark 2 and and 3.

After a frenetic half-an-hour we had a fantastic looking contraption with three motors sort-of attached. We anticipated great success for our paddling pool test dive the following day, and then Marianas trench here we come!

DIY ROVs under paddling pool test conditions

Next day started ominously, it looked as if Noah had come to haunt us and brought his apocalyptic rain with him. We waited patiently in line, as one-by-one, the other teams put their sleek underwater vehicles through their paces. Then suddenly the skies opened and that rare yellow orb peaked out and sent a ray of light down upon us. It was almost biblical.

So it came to pass that Kathryn gingerly launched our ROV named ‘Starbucks Enterprise’. All went well until it decided to roll over and sink upside down. This was clearly a sign from ‘above’ so we re-trimmed our wicks and re-designed our vessel to operate upside down and confidently announced that this was our plan all along!

Fellow NAS members re-calibrate their ROVs in the pool test tank

With trepidation Kathryn pushed the go switch and ‘voila’ the beast roared around the tank like a cross between a washing up bowl, a wedding cake and a plastic zimmer frame… it was a rare moment that we both savoured. We had been there, done it, got the T-shirt and created a monster baby that fitted the NAS course specifications!

After several joyful laps round the pool, we decided to quit while we were winning so hung up our bilge pumps and adjourned to the local pub for a celebrated noggin.

For those of you who wish to join to illustrious NAS make-your-own ROV club, I strongly advise you to book up quickly as these sorts of courses are great fun and fill up fast. NAS courses can be found on the website under Events.

Fieldschool attendees and their ROVs

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