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Chasing Dory underwater drone

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#1 Betta132

  • NANFA Guest
  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 09 February 2020 - 07:43 PM


I got this lovely lady for Christmas. She's a mini submarine, with a battery life of about an hour, attached to a 50-foot tether ending in a wifi buoy. If you can keep the buoy above the water, you can control her via any smart device. Either hold onto the tether on the bank so you can reel her in, or let it go and let her scoot around of her own accord with the buoy floating. She was a buy from the Kickstarter, so we got her cheaper than usual. I think she's $450 now that the Kickstarter is over and she's in regular retail sale? I'm pretty impressed with her so far, and absolutely cannot wait to take her to the ocean somewhere. I hope to take her to Cancun in a couple years.

She's pretty easy to control, once you get the hang of her. Just two speeds, high and low. One virtual joystick that controls direction, one that controls ascent and descent, and a slider to the side to tilt her angle. She can angle up or down by 45 degrees either direction. She seems reasonably durable, has a decent level of maneuverability, and comes with a pair of strong little headlights. Camera's not stunning, but it's still pretty good. And she's really small- maybe 8" long, and lightweight enough to easily carry in one hand. 

Mostly because fish aren't really scared of her. They get spooked when she goes towards them at speed, but they stick around, and even venture towards her, when she doesn't move. I practically had to run some sunfish over before they'd move. 

She does foul up pretty fast in that really fine, long, wavy algae that grows in a lot of low-flow areas. Keep her out of that. She also doesn't handle well in really shallow water- needs about 2' to really start going. Shallower than that, and she can't go up to get off the bottom. 18" is doable without any large rocks to avoid. 


These images are screenshots of the app because I didn't know at the time how to get the picture buttons working. I think there are some photos stored in the app for me to get at later. She can also take video. 



First spot I tried, too shallow. Some blacktail shiners. They panicked less about her than expected once she stopped moving!



Chub? Dace? As big as she was, and largely unbothered by her. 



Sunfish, and a bass in the very background. I briefly found it closer up a couple of times, but moved towards it too fast, and it darted away. 



I had seen this shell from the bank earlier, and wondered if it was a flat rock or a turtle shell. Now I know! Doesn't seem to have a turtle in it. I thought about trying to go get it, but it was out in waist-deep water, and the water was 60 degrees (she's got a temp sensor), so I didn't much feel like that. Maybe I'll get it when the weather warms up. Ain't going anywhere, bone doesn't rot. 






Found a nice big group of mixed sunfish. I've caught what look like hybrid sunnies in this spot, so some of these may be hybrids. I know there's some longfins, and I think those heavily striped ones are bluegills. Maybe a redear or two. Saw a particularly dark one at one point, but couldn't get a decent pic. Pretty sure that one with the weird head in the first pic is just at a strange angle, but I didn't see it very well, so it's possible it's a little deformed. 

I just like the number of fish you can see visibly looking at her. Sunnies are curious little fellas, and most of them really weren't afraid of her until she was right on top of them. They'd back up a bit as she was moving, then, when she stopped, slowly venture in closer. I deleted a handful more pictures that were just 5 or so little sunfish faces staring at the camera. I'm guessing they might think she's a strange turtle? She's definitely not shaped like most predators I can think of, and she doesn't have anything on her that really looks like how fish eyes are set. 


This is the most fun I've had with a single gadget in a long time. Gotta think of other places to try her out. Maybe a nice deep lake so I can look for big catfish. Not too big, though- might try and eat her! I don't think her tether connections are quite strong enough to reel in a catfish large enough to swallow her whole. It'd be some amazing footage, though. 

#2 Betta132

  • NANFA Guest
  • San Gabriel drainage area

Posted 09 February 2020 - 08:05 PM

And can anyone tell what's up with the top left fish in the second-to-last pic? The one with the odd black area on its back. I've seen multiple fish like this before, never showing any particular signs of distress. I don't know if it's a disease or just some sort of color mutation. 

#3 Michael Wolfe

Michael Wolfe
  • Board of Directors
  • North Georgia, Oconee River Drainage

Posted 09 February 2020 - 11:50 PM

thats pretty cool, you are snorkeling but not getting wet (a potential advantage this time of year)


I think that fish in the second picture is a redhorse of some sort based on anal fin placement and maybe (blurry) mouth shape. 

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

#4 Casper

  • NANFA Fellow
  • Chattanooga, TN alongside South Chickamauga Creek, just upstream of the mighty Tennessee River.

Posted 11 February 2020 - 05:07 PM

That looks like a lotta fun.  I can think of many places it would be good locally.

I missed a $20. teacher program at the TN Aquarium that PROVIDED a free U/W robotic device.

Just the other day.


Sold out and i would have had to talk someone in to me being a teacher.


$450 is too much for me but bring it to the SC convention.  Lakes would be fun.  Quiet pools in streams.

I like the exposed / floated WIFI control.  Tethers in a flowing stream only get in the way, snag, pull but provide rescuing.


Super cool!


How do you see?  Some kind of VR goggles might be appropriate.

Casper Cox
Chattanooga, near the TN Divide on BlueFishRidge overlooking South Chickamauga Creek.

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