@estackpole @cradix So, I had an idea that I’ve been noodling about in my head, and thought I’d put it down here.
We have this basic idea about standardizing components for ROVs, whether that be connectors or “parts”, or what have you. 2 thoughts I’m trying to connect…
In an earlier life, I used to manage a datacenter and there were times when we would build new server racks. The racks are standardized, having a known width and depth. There is a standardized height that is referred to as a “u”, so a server component would be that standard width and depth, and then be some height, like “1u” or “2u”, etc. There was software that you could use that configure a rack where you just pick the components and the software tells you the best way to fit them, or if they will all fit.
Most of the plans I’ve seen so far for building basic ROVs involve some sort of rectangular box, usually made of PVC pipe or something like that (depending how deep we’re trying to go). That’s the path that we are mostly likely to go down with our own projects. And so I thought that one approach would be to take the server rack configuration idea and use that here. Make the “box” for the ROV a standard size, or have that standard “box” within the frame somewhere and then come up with a standard size for the components to fit into it. Let’s make up an example.
Let’s say that you make a box that is 3’ x 3’ x 3’. (the numbers are totally made up just for sake of discussion). And let’s say that the standard unit of measure for the components is 1 cubic foot, so 1x1x1. Let’s call that “1R” just for fun. You could fit 27 of them into the box. Let’s say, further, that you create a backplane on the box that has Bristlemouth connecters built into it, the idea being that if your component was configured some ways, it could slide in and plug into the backplane (you could just as easily have Bristlemouth cables back there, too). If you create a component that is, say 1R wide and 3R deep, it would fill one “column” in the box, and plug into the backplane. If it was 3R wide and 3R deep, same thing. It could just plug into the backplane. You could potentially have the max of 27 components if you had some standards that allowed for passthru connectors to be built into each component. Or you could have something like an “L” shaped component that might block access to the backplane to components in front of it, but if you had a passthru connector standard, one component could plug into another component to access the backplane. Then you could have software that could take a list of components, and configure them into a space, sort of like playing 3 dimensional Tetris. You could, then, have really simple configurations, or really complex configurations, depending on the number of spots available in the 3D grid, which could be of varying size depending on the size of the ROV.
Now, back in the land of student reality, we could mimic some of this by using standard sized project boxes for each component (or cylinders or spheres depending the depth requirements), and just stack them different ways within the ROV frame. A 3-across grid could have a camera box in the middle with 1 light box on either side, for example. And we’d just be using cables in our first ROV(s). I don’t know if the Bristlemouth connecter can be configured the way I’m thinking, so it’s all just brainstorming right now. I have to take a closer look at the current specs to see what it can do. At the very least, it would allow us to easily move components from one ROV to another because they’re all standard size, which mean that the ROV could be built with connector and brackets in standard locations. That could apply to thrusters, power supplies, control units, etc etc etc. Or this could be for instrumentation only, with everything else being customized for the particular ROV. You get the idea.
That’s the idea. Sorry, I should have drawn some diagrams to make this all clearer. For right now, I was more interested in getting it written down to see if any of it made any sense.