Microcontrollers and ROVs
Welcome to “Microcontrollers and ROVs”. This online workshop will introduce to you to the uses of microcontollers in a hands-on format with an ultimate goal of having you design an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle that you will program to complete a mission. To take this course you do not need to have any prior programming or electronics skills. You do, however, need to have a keen sense of adventure and stick-to-it-ness.
A microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit with programmable input/output peripherals. Physicists are interested in microcontrollers as these tend to be a main tool we use to collect data from the universe and to the control the devices that make up our experimental apparatus.
There are many microcontrollers on the market. For this class we have chosen the Arduino Uno microcontroller. The advantages of the Arduino Uno include a large global Arduino community with whom you can share work, its low cost, and its small size.
There are 10 course checkpoints to get from your miniROV kit full of what looks like random electronic spare parts to a functional miniROV. Each check point below takes 2-3 hours each. At my college, this one-credit class runs for 10 weeks meeting 3 hours per week. Remember, the kit that you are purchasing is not a toy; rather it contains the tools you need to be able to create a prototype of what could later become a scientific tool of exploration.
My students, after completing this 1-credit course, go on to create full-scale ROVs that are used to explore underwater volcanoes or payloads that get launched aboard NASA rockets or take part in microgravity experiments. The main goal of working through this curriculum is for you, by the end of the last checkpoint, to be able to dream up your own uses for microcontrollers in scientific discovery and engineering implementation.
When you are done with your miniROV, feel free to take a photo of it and we will post it on our webpage.
You can download the full miniROV workbook up above in either English or Spanish, or, access one chapter at a time below.