Somewhat new to this group - hi
I have had a rather ambitious robotic project in mind for a few years, and I am wondering if perhaps now it would be reasonable to pursue at least a simple version.
The goal would be a solar powered submersible (don't laugh, read on, heh heh) robot with GPS and some sort of long range communication device. The robot would be "released" like a message in a bottle by being mailed to some trustworthy fellow robot hobbyist with a big boat :-) The robot would bob along in the water while it's solar panels charge the batteries, then a pumping system would flood an internal ballast and the robot would sink to the bottom of the ocean, take and store images using a high power strobe and digital camera and then return to the surface where it would relay its position and data to a land based station. No real point to the project, except simple low cost underwater exploration of deep ocean.
Ok, realizing that the above is too much for one person to tackle, idea 2:
The same solar powered robot released into a good ocean current, but this time the main robot does not submerge, but rather a small sealed spherical pod made of lexan containing a small microcontroller, battery, light source and digital camera. This pod would be attached to the main (floating) robot via a tether comprised of monofilament fishing line, perhaps 4lb test or something. A high quality stainless steel deep sea fishing reel would be loaded up with 1000 meters or more of this line and outfitted with a small geared servomotor. The sealed lexan sphere would have a IR transmitter and reciever embedded inside it to transfer data to the floating mothership robot. Probably just a large capacity lithium battery would be used in the sphere, but a slightly more ambitious project would be to charge the sphere through some gold coated metal contacts or induction. Lithium battery sounds easier.
The other really hard part is the long range communication device. An less attractive but probably more realistic alternative would be to store all the data on the mothership on a large compact flash device and hope that whoever finds the robot will at least post the contents of the memory (instructions written on robot).
I think a simple version could be done for under $2000. I will foot the bill...anyone interested in working with me on this...or at least discussing it in a yahoo group and never doing anything? :-p