Payload Interface: Mechanical (Trident Kickstarter Update #10)

Original post : February 6, 2016

First off, thanks to everyone who came out for the open house a few weeks ago! It was fun to see so many backers, and even more exciting for us to see future Trident owners get to fly one for the first time. If you couldn’t make it, here’s a video from the event:

We’ll be having more of these events throughout the year, as well as trying to host meetups in different locations around the world. Also, we’ll be running a series of testing expeditions that we hope you’ll be able to join!

Now, onto the update...

One of the core features of the OpenROV kit is modularity and extendibility. We’ve always been pleasantly surprised to see what payloads community members are adding to their devices, and wanted to make sure that Trident provided the same flexibility for users. We’ve spoken with scientists who want to add pH and dissolved oxygen sensors, salvagers who want to add gripper arms, and cinematographers who want to add additional cameras and lighting, just to name a few.

We know there’s a big community of makers who are already making plans for Trident payloads, and we wanted to give them an update about where we’re at. This update is focusing on the mechanical payload interface. We’ll have a future update with the interface from a software perspective.

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Dimensions in mm. Other hole features shown are part of the assembly process, not payload attachment.

We wanted to create a mounting system that was simple, robust, and versatile enough to be useable for a variety of different payloads, but also that could be easily adopted as a standard that vehicles in the future could use. We’ve designed a rectangular (square) hole pattern of M3 threaded holes spaced 50mm and 100mm apart along the bottom plane of the vehicle. This spacing is the right size for many of the payloads we’ve discussed (GoPro cameras, gripper arms, lights, etc) and fits very nicely along the bottom profile of Trident.

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We’ve also learned that Trident can carry very large (equal to Trident itself) masses when towed behind the vehicle, so we’ve designed an additional hole in the aft of the vehicle that will allow tow brackets to be attached. This can be useful for towing magnetometers, large electronics payloads, or even 360-degree camera systems.

So far, all our payload testing has been extremely exciting. It still seems that there are a number of new payload configurations to explore. One of the more promising ideas has been adding to the sides of the ROV, which could be used to mount side scan transducers.

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Ultimately, we know that the community will come up with far more exciting uses than we can ever imagine on our own, and we look forward to seeing what you come up with when we ship them out in November! If you're interested in following and contributing to this ongoing discussion, you can join the conversation on the OpenROV Forums.

On a fun side note: OpenROV community member Kevin K is currently looking for a lost WWII USMC dive bomber of the coast of Southern California right now. You can follow along with his efforts on OpenExplorer: