OpenROV: A Mini Submarine

OpenROV is an underwater explorer which is a robotic submarine, purpose of making this robot is to make underwater exploration and education affordable for any interested adventurer. The idea of this machine was of Eric Stackpole, who is currently working at NASA as an engineer, to discover whether the legend about the hidden treasure of Hall City Cave, located near Hayfork in Trinity County, California, was true. What the legend says is that a few native Americans took approximately 100 pounds of gold bricks from miners in the 1800s but they got into a pursuit, to escape the chase, they had to keep the gold bricks in deep waters of nearby Hall City Cave to lighten their load so that they can come back and retrieve it but unfortunately that could not happen because they were soon caught and hanged. Even though many explorers have tried to find the gold, not even one of them has been able to get to the bottom of the narrow and deep cave. A self taught sailor named David Lang heard about Stackpole working on this machine to search for the gold and became inspired to join. Lang and Stackpole co-founded OpenROV as an open source hardware project.

OpenROV is a remotely operated mini-submarine with a weight of 2.6kg and has 15cm x20cm x30cm dimensions. A 26650 lithium ion battery is the source of its power and it can be assembled from common components with the most expensive piece being the BeagleBone Linux, a single-board computer, which costs around $90. The machine is controlled by a laptop which is connected to the submarine by an RJ-45 ethernet tether and is equipped with on-board LED lights and an HD camera.


  • Live HD Video
  • Highly Maneuverable
  • Easy to use web browser interface
  • Expandable

Things needed to set the machine up:

  • A laptop with RJ-45 ehternet connector and a free USB port.
  • Rechargable 26650 batteries and chargers
  • Gamepad Controller
  • Video Recording Software
  • An Operators Manual is included in the package that will be delivered and more can be learned about operating your OpenROV by reading that manual.

Tool List:

  • Electrical tape, sand paper
  • Acrylic cement, applicator for acrylic cement, Super Glue, 2-Ton Epoxy, Silicon based lubricant
  • Disposable rubber gloves, safety glasses
  • Soldering iron, heat gun, wire strippers, flush cutter
  • Hacksaw, small screwdriver set, needlenose pliers, scissors, utility knife, standard pliers.


  • Physical specifications:
  • Weight 2.6kg
  • Dimensions 30cm long x 20cm wide x 15cm high
  • Nominal battery life using rechargeable lithium batteries is 2-3 hours (depending on use)
  • Performance specifications:
  • Maximum depth 100m (328ft)
  • Maximum tether length 300m (100m tether provided)
  • Maximum forward speed 2 knots
  • LED brightness 200lm
  • Temperature capability -10C to 50C
  • Software controlled camera tilt (+/- 60 deg from center)


  • HD Webcam (120 deg FOV) with audio
  • Red Scaling lasers (parallel, 10 cm separation)
  • Current and voltage protection with feedback to ensure proper system function
  • External I2C bus with 3.3V power for external instrumentation
  • 6 additional auxiliary wires for user-defined external instrumentation or devices. One power PWM channel and one servo control channel are preconfigured.