The deployment of tethered remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and sensors for deep sea exploration is dependent on the use of complex, bulky fiber optic cabling systems as telemetry, power and video transmission feeds. A simpler solution merges fiber optics technology with a fishing line reel system to form the smallest, most compact deep-sea system available that can provide a livestream video feed.

The fishing-line tether described in Sensors consists of a fiber optic core surrounded by a braided polyethylene sheath. A 3D-printed, epoxy-filled mechanical termination isolates tensile loading on the fishing line from the optical fiber and has a demonstrated breaking strength of 90 lb (400 N). The termination is connected to a custom 3D-printed, epoxy-potted data payload system based on a miniature deep-sea camera system and uses a rechargeable battery and an ethernet-to-fiber converter to achieve bidirectional gigabit telemetry.

During deep water tests conducted at 350 m off the Massachusetts coast, the system successfully transmitted live video throughout the cast and captured footage of different marine organisms. Additional tests performed at 780 m depth in Bermuda also successfully demonstrated real time video transmission.

The low cost and lightweight deep-sea live telemetry system was designed by researchers from University of Rhode Island, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Nautilus Defense LLC (Rhode Island).

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