The Eye Aquatic
Photography by Joe Reinhardt andMike Fields
Cousteau and the undersea world. Cameron and Freight, complete with infrared LEDs for night vi-
Titanic. And now, Joe Reinhardt and Mike Fields sion, power supply, and 80 feet of RJ11 cable. They
and the depths of Lake Moraine in upstate New York. scored a Chinese color “Spy-Cam” for $1 on eBay
Every summer, Reinhardt and brother-in-law (plus $35 shipping), and ran its video signal up the
Fields tackle a new DIY project at the family’s audio wire in the RJ11 cable.
lakeside camp. In 2005, the pair built their own After an embarrassing misfire with ballast tanks
underwater ROV (remote observation vehicle) (“We put ’em on top, so it sank upside down every
with two video cameras feeding live images to a time”), the explorers improvised a solution (“a big
shipboard laptop — all for about 100 bucks. hunk of concrete and a bungee cord”) and lowered
Making things is second nature for Reinhardt, 24, their ROV to the lake bottom to capture video of
a computer tech in digital imaging. This time, he sunfish, perch, and muskie sporting in the wild. The
got to indulge his underwater fascination: “I always rig proved watertight to 40 feet.
wanted to be a marine biologist,” says Reinhardt. “I This summer, they’re going deeper: their 2006
love the water, and ships ... and watching Discovery model has thrusters for true independent ROV mo-
Channel with the real ROVs exploring the Titanic.” bility, using watertight 12VDC motors coupled to
Reinhardt and Fields built their homebrew ROV’s propellers by super-powerful neodymium magnets.
frame out of PVC pipe, and its transparent camera It’ll be rated to 200 feet, good enough to dive quar-
housing out of scrap quarter-inch-thick acrylic tube ries or wrecks on Lake Erie, Reinhardt says. James
from the local plastics supply (milled to watertight Cameron might want to check his rearview mirror.
tolerances on a friend’s lathe). They joined the two —Keith Hammond
with simple but strong carpenter’s ratchet clamps.