DEEPi: A miniaturized, robust, and economical camera and computer system for deep-sea exploration: A miniaturized deep-sea camera system

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Cameras are essential components to almost every underwater vehicle including ROV's, AUV's, manned submersibles, ocean observatories, and baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVs). Deep-sea cameras are traditionally expensive components, and are almost exclusively fabricated as 1-atm pressure housings made of aluminum, stainless steel or titanium, combined with custom-made optical viewports. In autonomous recording systems such as BRUVs and biologging animal tags, camera size and form factor directly influences the physical design of the entire system and limits the operational endurance. In this paper, we describe a novel design for DEEPi, a deep-sea imaging and control system based on the Raspberry Pi family of single-board computers. The DEEPi camera is an extremely compact remote head unit (~16 ml volume), can operate to depths of at least 5500 m, and uses a photopolymer 3D-printed shell partially filled with epoxy as a pressure housing. A flat polished borosilicate glass disc serves as the optical viewport, and protects the lens assembly from pressure and water intrusion. The control computer is completely potted in epoxy, and is accessible through a wifi connection. The DEEPi system is described in detail, along with example imagery from deep-sea deployments to depths of up to 1096 m.

Publication Title

Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers