New Product! Basic ESC R3

Hi everyone, we have a quick new product announcement for today! The Basic ESC has been updated to a new R3 version, and besides looking (and running!) cooler, there have been a few changes under the hood to add features and make it even more robust. This new version of the Basic ESC runs BLHeli_S firmware, a much more modern ESC firmware with smoother running and easy customization with the BlHeliSuite graphical interface.

More efficient design and components allow the Basic ESC to be packed into an even smaller package with less heat generation than previous designs. We evaluated a bunch of potential ESCs for and put them through a battery of tests to evaluate their reliability and robustness, which included:

  • Running a T200 continuously for hours at over 20V and 32A
  • Hammering a T200 back and forth between full reverse and full forward
  • Statistical testing of PWM signal response with a function generator
  • Multiple dives of real world testing in a BlueROV2

The new Basic ESC performed excellently, and we’re very excited to have it available now! The BlueROV2 is also now shipping with the Basic ESC R3 installed.

We will continue to sell the original Basic ESC R2, but we have set an “end of life” date for 6 months from now.

Stay tuned for more future product updates!

New Product: Lithium Battery Charger!

Hey there, friends! We’ve got an energizing new product today- a Lithium Battery Charger perfect for our high capacity Lithium-ion Battery (14.8V, 18Ah)! This 300W charger can charge at up to 20A, so it can charge our battery in 1-2 hours at the recommended 10A charge rate, while still having plenty of headroom for even larger batteries.

This charger can be powered by 100-240V AC wall power, or a 10-28V DC power supply, so it has plenty of flexibility wherever you may be. With built in balancing and discharge capability, your batteries of any chemistry can safely be kept in top condition for maximum performance and lifespan!

That’s it for today!

If you have any thoughts, please join the related discussion on our forums here!

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New Product! Lithium-ion Battery (14.8V, 18Ah)

Today we’re especially charged up to announce a new product that has been highly requested for some time! We now have available a custom made high capacity lithium-ion battery made specifically for the BlueROV2!

Check out the New Product Video on Youtube:

Lithium-ion Battery (14.8V, 18Ah)

With its massive 18Ah capacity, this 4S 14.8V battery will allow you to run your BlueROV2 for around 4 hours at moderate load, almost twice as long as previously possible with a 10Ah battery. We’re especially proud of the build quality of this battery, the 18650 cells it is comprised of are known to be exceptionally high performing and very safe.

Take a look at the results of our moderate to heavy load case. With gain set to 25% and 4 lights at 1/4 brightness, the battery powered the BlueROV2 for well over 3 hours! With almost constant depth and heading hold interrupted by periods of heavy full throttle use, this represents a realistic in field use.

Moderate Load 18Ah Battery Discharge

The notable high capacity of this battery means that it is subject to stricter shipping regulations than our other products. At over 266Wh, it has almost triple the energy of the maximum allowable laptop battery that can be transported on a passenger aircraft! In addition to a hazardous goods shipping surcharge, at the moment we are also only able to ship this battery to a select number of countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • United States of America

We’re working on expanding this list to include most of Europe and a few other countries. We hope to be able to do that within a few weeks.

We’ve got some more product announcements coming soon that we think will generate quite the buzz! That’s all for now!

Using Blue Robotics Components on a Competition ROV

By: Adam Šimko, Mechanical Engineer at Blue Robotics

ROV Competitions: Learning for the Future

In all four years of high school, I competed in the MATE Underwater ROV competition, and loved it! From freshman year when my Scout class ROV was barely able to move, to Junior and Senior years when my team and I advanced to the international competition and ended up placing third, and then first, in the world in Ranger class, I learned key skills and acquired knowledge which I draw from on a daily basis. In fact, my participation is what led to my interest in marine robotics, and played a large part in landing me an internship at Blue Robotics last year, leading to my job here now. The competition has certainly evolved since I was a participant- back in my day the only thruster option in the budget was converted bilge pump motors. We used them and we liked it! Now many teams are stepping up to the increased challenge of the competition, and using newly affordable products, like ours, which didn’t exist just a few years ago.

A T100 Thruster mounted on a competition ROV (left), and ROV with 5 T100 Thrusters (right).

If you’re interested in using some of our products for a student ROV or subsea vehicle competition, you likely have a few questions about what parts to use to make a competent ROV. I’ve put together this brief introduction going over some of our products and how to use them in your vehicle to make it easy to get your competition ROV ready and running!

Thrusters

The core of any good ROV is a set of powerful and reliable thrusters to move around with and accomplish your mission goals. For student teams, we recommend our T100 thruster for these reasons:

  • A student team friendly price, while still having plenty of thrust.
  • Low power draw, making it more appropriate for competitions, which often have a maximum allowable current too low to fully utilize the T200 thruster.

Depending on the number of thrusters you are planning on using, you may have to limit the max throttle on your thrusters to prevent blowing your fuse! Don’t worry, even at half throttle, a T100 will be much more powerful and efficient than a bilge pump thruster. Refer to the specifications and charts in the documentation to get an idea of the power draw and performance.

A competition AUV at the AUVSI RoboSub competition in 2016.

It’s important to note that our thrusters are based on brushless motors, different from the traditional brushed design found in most other ROV thrusters and electric motors. The easiest way to tell these motor types apart is by the number of wires they have- if there are three wires coming out, like our thrusters, this means it’s a brushless motor. You can’t run our thrusters by simply connecting them to a battery or switch (unless you want a barbecue!), you need a brushless electronic speed controller, or ESC, like our Basic ESC. The Basic ESC allows you to efficiently and smoothly operate a thruster with standard RC PWM signals, which can easily be generated by an Arduino microcontroller. Simply program the Arduino, hook it up to the ESC and motor as outlined in our documentation, and you’re good to go! There are tons of tutorials and examples of how to use an Arduino online, and this method will allow you to control your ROV with a gamepad, joystick, or any other kind of controller you can attach to a computer. You will need one ESC per thruster- there’s no clever way to get around this!

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