By Dave Prochnow
48 SERVO 05.2014
Build Your Own
for Less than $100
What's that on the bottom of the swimming pool? It's big and dark and near the drain.
Well, if you have about four hours of time and around $100, you could easily find out
what that thing is. In less time than it would take to hire a pool boy, you can build an
underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can deftly descend to the pool's drain
and quickly ID whether you have debris or a mermaid living in your pool.
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Pool Bot is built on a framework of Schedule 40 PVC tubing and connectors. While there is nothing extraordinary about utilizing this building material for the construction of an ROV, the hallmark of the
project is that none of the PVC joints are glued together.
Couple this virtue with employing cable ties as support
structure and Pool Bot can be disassembled for convenient
storage, and rebuilt for spontaneous periodic inspections of
the swimming pool.
While adept at tooling about a swimming pool, Pool
Bot can also be used in both natural freshwater and
saltwater environments. Remember, if used in either one of
these natural aquatic resources, the entire ROV should be
thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned prior to storage. Failure to
properly clean all of Pool Bot’s surfaces can result in the
formation of mold and rot which could destroy the ROV.
Another more prominent and controversial aspect of
Pool Bot is the use of a single 9V battery for a power
supply. Adding electrical power to any ROV is a complex
task that generally involves long, thick, waterproof umbilical
cables that stretch from the above-water operator’s position
to the underwater ROV. By using a 9V battery, however, the
need for extensive waterproofing and cable bulk can be