Hey everyone!

 

It’s only been about a week since our last update, but we wanted to take a chance to collect our thoughts and make sure we kept you all informed in an honest way. With that in mind, let’s jump in!

 

First things first - what have we been up to behind the scenes. The short answer? Making sure the drones we ship to you are the best they can possibly be. We’ve continued to punish the prototypes we have in house, making sure they meet Fathom’s rigorous quality standards. As we found, this testing has been very beneficial.

 

In the weeks after we sent out an update in April, we began to notice some finicky behavior with some of the older prototypes. Come to find out, the layout of internal componentry coupled with the Fathom One potting material was leading to heat build up that - over time - was leading to decreased CPU efficiency and battery degradation. Needless to say, this wasn’t acceptable to our team, so we set out to find a solution.

Our first model with redesigned internals, affectionately referred to by our team as Falcon 1.

After extensive testing, we found the issue stemmed from the CPU and battery being too closely surrounded with potting material, not allowing heat from the CPU to escape to the front air pocket where it could more easily diffuse into the surround water. 

Internal potting gives the F1 the strength it needs to dive down deep.

To remedy this issue, we’ve done two important things: the first was to engineer ventilation channels around the drone’s CPU, allowing it the proper “breathing room” to reach an equilibrium at a comfortable 50 degrees Celsius, which is well within its recommended operational limits. The second was to move the battery into the forward air compartment, keeping it at 25 - 30 degrees Celsius to optimize cycle limits and dive times. After we made these changes, our drones have been running smoother than ever. 

The new hull design of the F1 slightly extends the body, giving us more room to position the internals.

Here is our second functional model with redesigned internals, the Falcon 2, next to a model of the newly designed hull. Notice the shape of the body is very much the same.

The smaller the changes, the smaller chance of introducing an unforeseen issue. Luckily, we've found ways to keep the design of the F1 mostly intact. A short extension to the hull allows us to rearrange the internals so as to make everything run cooler, while also assisting in the balancing of the F1 while in water.  

Some of you may be asking why this heat issue wasn’t noticed sooner. Essentially, the degradation of our prototypes was so gradual, that it was extremely difficult to identify a root cause. Our earlier prototypes did not contain all of the temperature sensors that we have since integrated into the F1, making it a challenge to definitively say heat was the element responsible for the CPU degradation and propagation of performance issues. With the addition of strategically placed internal temperature sensors, we’re able to quantitatively verify that the solutions outlined above keep the F1 at a more comfortable operating temperature, insuring a more robust drone for you.

Of course, we have to keep in mind that there isn't much in the way of a precedent for a gasket-less underwater drone or ROV, meaning that many of the design challenges we've run into in the past, have been exclusive to Fathom. In that sense, we’ve been forging our own path forward, implementing solutions as unique as the Fathom One.

As a side note, some sharp eyes may have noticed a change in the F1's rear thruster. We've been experimenting lately with fully interchangeable thrusters, and so far the results look promising. This would mean you wouldn't have to worry about which thruster goes where, or having to replace a certain one should anything break, making the F1 more modular than ever!

Choices, choices, choices..

Until next time,

-The Fathom Team