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Submarines tend to bring to mind the large, hulking metal cylinders that are more commonly known. However, this easy to follow guide will show exactly how to make a small and affordable PVC submarine.

Step 1: Materials List

Gather these materials from your local Home Depot, Elliotts, or Lowes

Two (2) 10 ft 1/2 pvc

Three (3) motors

Three (3) motor cases

Three (3) sets of waterproof motor stickers

(1) wax ring

Three (3) quarter sized balls of wax

Three (3) nickel sized balls of wax

Twenty-five (25) zipties

Set of three (3) opened loop neodymium magnets

Two (2) ½ inch cross section

Two (2) ½ inch pvc caps

Eight (8) 3-way ½ inch pvc elbow pieces 40 ft of wire Controller materials * see below

Seven (7) ½ inch pvc t’s (1)Sandpaper sheet

(1) Power supply

Three (3) motor fins 1 roll Electrical tape

Three (3) DPDT switches

Four (4) PVC corners

One (1) ½ inch to ¾ inch PVC inverter

Tools

Wire clippers

Two (2) wire strippers { various sizes, small and big}

(1) Soldering iron

(1) Tube of solder

Latex gloves

Wall outlet

Wet sponge

Pvc pipe cutters

Safety glasses or goggles

Close-toed shoes

Tape measure Marker

Step 2: Cut List

Grab your tape measure, marker and pvc cutter. Measure and mark all the below cut list items on the two pieces of 10 ft pvc. Once you run out of length for the 1st pvc pipe, move on to the next one and save the scraps for emergency uses. Mark all the pieces with the letter corresponding to the cut with a marker. The number inside the () shows how many parts you need to cut of a specific measurement.

CUT LIST:
(2)A = 14 ½ ”

(8)B = 7 ¼ “

(3)C = 3 ½ “

(2)D = 2”

(2)E= 5 ½ “

(1)F= 9 ¼ “

(2)G=5 ½ ”

(2)H= 15 ¼ “

(1)I=1’ 9 ¾ “

(4)J= 2”

(2)K= 2 ½”

Step 3: Building Frame

Take one 3-way elbow and place one “H” pipe into one of the horizontal holes, making sure it is ½ inch deep.

Step 4: Building Frame

Afterwards, take 1 J piece and place it into the other horizontal hole, again making sure it is ½ inch deep.

Step 5: Building Frame

Place one of the horizontal holes of the t cross-section onto the other side of the “H” pipe, so that the vertical hole is facing directly upwards.

Step 6: Building Frame

Do so again, however this time place the t onto the J piece and have the vertical hole facing away from you

Step 7: Building Frame

At this point, the sub should be in a 90 degree angle with the “H” pipe perpendicular to you and the J (along with its t) parallel to you.
Repeat step 4, but this time stick a J piece into the remaining horizontal hole of the t that was attached to the original J pipe.

Step 8: Building Frame

Attach one of the holes of a cross section to the J pipe from step 7 so that the cross section lays flat on the surface.

Step 9: Building Frame

Again, repeat step 4 except this time attach the J pipe to the cross section.

Step 10: Building Frame

Repeat step 6 with the J pipe from step 7.

Step 11: Building Frame

Repeat step 7 with the t from step 10.

Step 12: Building Frame

Place a 3 way elbow onto the J pipe from step 11, so that it is symmetrical to the 3 way from step 3.

Step 13: Building Frame

Repeat steps 3 and 5 with the 3 way elbow from step 12.

Step 14: Building Frame

Place an E pipe into the tee connected to one of the “H” pipes.

Step 15: Building Frame

Repeat with the other tee connected to the other “H” pipe

Step 16: Building Frame

Place a regular corner onto one of the E pipes so that it faces inwards relative to the sub.

Step 17: Building Frame

Repeat with the other E pipe.

Step 18: Building Frame

Place a G pipe into the remaining hole of one of the regular corners.

Step 19: Building Frame

Repeat with the other corner.

Step 20: Building Frame

Insert a tee in between the two G pipes and connect the two pipes to the two respective horizontal holes of the tee; the vertical hole should be facing away from you (same direction as the tee from step 6).

Step 21: Building Frame

Fit piece “I” into the bottom hole of the cross section from step 8 and the top hole of the tee from step 20.

Step 22: Building Frame

Now place 2 B pipes into the two 3-way elbows and 2 more B pipes into the two tees that are facing directly upwards.

Step 23: Building Frame

Place 4 three ways on each B pipe so that they are all faced towards the inside of the sub, it should look like corners of a cube.

Step 24: Building Frame

Place two A pipes into each corresponding 3-way elbow holes so that they are perpendicular to pipe I from step 21.

Step 25: Building Frame

Now place a B pipe into each remaining hole of the 3 way elbows.

Step 26: Building Frame

Insert a tee in the middle of two of the B pipes from step 25; make sure that the B pipes are stuck inside the horizontal holes of the tee and the vertical hole is pointed downwards.

Step 27: Building Frame

Repeat step 26 for the other two B pipes.

Step 28: Magnet Rod

Attach one C pipe to each hole in the front. They should be the two tees and one cross section, also are the only ones that are facing forward as of now.

Step 29: Magnet Rod

Attach a corner elbow to each of two C pipes on the outside.

Step 30: Magnet Rod

Attach a cross section to the middle C pipe.

Step 31: Magnet Rod

Insert one D pipe in between the cross section and the left corner.

Step 32: Magnet Rod

Repeat with with the right corner and corresponding cross section hole.

Step 33: Magnet Rod

Attach an F pipe to the middle cross section.

Step 34: Magnet Rod

At the end of the F pipe attach a ½ inch to ¾ pipe inverter.

Step 35: Magnet Rod

Now take your ¾ pvc cap and use a ⅛ inch drill bit and drill a hole straight through the center of the cap.

Step 36: Magnet Rod

Now grab your disc magnet and ¼ inch screw.

Step 37: Magnet Rod

Place the disc magnet into the screw so it reaches the end.

Step 38: Magnet Rod

Change out your drill bit for a driver bit. It should be a phillips (+) bit.

Step 39: Magnet Rod

Now place the screw and the disc magnet into the small hole you just drilled.

Step 40: Magnet Rod

Put the cap onto a vice/clamp and then screw in the screw with the disc magnet all the way. Do this slowly so the magnets do NOT break. The screw should be sticking out the end of the cap.

Step 41: Magnet Rod

Now install the cap onto the ¾ inch inverter.

Step 42: Magnet Rod

You now have your magnets attached to your frame.

Finally, let’s attach the rods that the motors will be attached to.

Attach the 2 K pipes to each tee that is facing downwards (see: step 26-27)

Step 43: Magnet Rod

Insert a pvc cap to the bottom of both of the K pipes you just placed.

You have finished the frame.

Now we will begin instructions for the motors. Go ahead and put the completed frame away for now.

Step 44: Motor Assembly

Assuming you have your 6 wax balls (3 with a diameter of a dime, 3 with a quarter size diameter) and your three motors and their respective cases, like instructed in the materials list, then you can begin.

Step 45: Motor Assembly

Take one of your motors. You will see a side with a blunt spike of sorts on it; place one of your waterproof stickers (the one with the hole in the center) straight through that spike until it sticks to the motor itself. Repeat for the flat side.

Step 46: Motor Assembly

Next, take one of your dime-sized wax balls and and place it onto the non spike side; place your case (without the lid) on that side. It should cover the majority of the motor.

Step 47: Motor Assembly

Then take the quarter sized ball and stick it all the way through the spike on the other side until it is flat on the motor. Place the lid so that the spike pierces through the hole in the middle and push both ends of the motor together until about 1.5 centimeters of the spike is showing, then just push the bottom end in order to make the lid “snap” to the the rest of the case.

Step 48: Motor Fins

Once all the motors are assembled, grab your power supply with the leads stripped off. Make sure to keep in mind which one is positive and which one is negative. For convenience the negative side will be fully stripped using a wire stripper while the positive side will be stripped, but still have parts of the wire covering.

Step 49: Motor Fins

To strip the wires of the power supply, grab your wire cutters and put each individual wire under the 14 whole. The numbers will appear on the right side of the wire cutter.

Step 50: Motor Fins

Once the wire is in the hole, make sure you are stripping about 2-3 inches off.

Step 51: Motor Fins

Use your other hand to hold the rest of the wire at an angle.

Step 52: Motor Fins

Pull the wire, while clamping the wire cutter down with your other hand.

Do this in a quick motion and your wire should be stripped.

Step 53: Motor Fins

Repeat this step again and make sure to keep in mind which wire/lead will be positive or negative.

Step 54: Motor Fins

After this is done, go ahead and strip your motor wires. You will first be stripping off the gray covering of the wire. You will need the bigger wire cutter for this.

Put the gray wire in the 14 size hole. Prepare to strip about 2 inches off.

Gently squeeze the wire while holding the longer end with another hand.

Once you can see a cut lining around the entire gray covering, use your hands to pull the covering out.

You will see more wires inside along with a flat, transparent string. The string is used if you want to pull down the gray covering further, but this is not necessary for now.

Step 55: Motor Fins

Go ahead and grab your smaller pair of wire cutters to strip the smaller wires inside the covering.

There should be 8 wires that are 4 different colors along with their white pair. So 8 total wires.

Step 56: Motor Fins

We will only be stripping 6 wires so choose the 3 colors you want to strip along with the white pairs. Find the 24 hole on the wire stripper and place one wire into the hole about an inch in. Hold the excess wire and then pull to strip.

Step 57: Motor Fins

Repeat the previous step 5 more times until all 6 wires are stripped. The copper ends should be showing.

Step 58: Motor Fins

The colored wires are positive and the white wires are negative. Wrap all the colored wires together by the copper ends that we just stripped. Also do this with all the white wires we just stripped

Step 59: Motor Fins

Once this is done we will connect the colored wires to the positive end of the power supply by wrapping it around that lead. Do the same with the white wires for the negative lead of the power supply.

Step 60: Motor Fins

Once this is done, plug the power supply in the wall plug and switch it on.

The motor axle should be rotating and if it isn’t, you might have wired incorrectly or you could have a faulty motor.

Step 61: Motor Fins

After we have tested the motor, leave the supply on.

Step 62: Motor Fins

Grab your sandpaper and start sanding of the axle connected to the motor

Step 63: Motor Fins

Make sure to clean of the axle so there is no wax or any sort of dirt on it. The axle will leave a black residue on the sandpaper.

Once there is no more residue on the sandpaper, then you are done sanding.

Step 64: Motor Fins

Repeat steps 54-63 with your other 2 motors.

Step 65: Motor Fins

Now we are ready to install the fins. Grab your glue and 3 fins.

Your power supply should be off by now and disconnected from all the motors.

Step 66: Motor Fins

Open the crazy glue and pour one drop inside the cap of the fin where there is a small hole.

Step 67: Motor Fins

Now stick the fin through the motor axle. Make sure the fin is slightly above the end of the axle to avoid it from sticking to the motor.

Step 68: Motor Fins

Gently lay the motor on a flat surface for 1 minute to let the glue dry.

Step 69: Motor Fins

Repeat steps 65-68 for your other 2 motors.

Step 70: Motor Fins

You are now done with the fin assembly and the motor testing. Below is an image of how the result should look like.

Step 71: Construct the Controller

Now we need to make the controller:

Controller Materials

Wood

Clearish Plastic

Saw

Wire

Drill

7/32 inch drill bit

⅝ inch drill bit

Screws or Nails

Sauder gun

Sauder

Step 72: Construct the Controller

First, we need to wire the DPDT switches.

Grab your 3 DPDT switches for each motor along with 3 pieces of extra wire that are 15 inches long.

Step 73: Construct the Controller

Use your big-sized wire cutters to cut the gray covering off over the extra wire.

Step 74: Construct the Controller

Put the gray wire in the 14 size whole. Prepare to strip about 2 inches off.

Step 75: Construct the Controller

Gently squeeze the wire while holding the longer end with another hand.

Step 76: Construct the Controller

Once you can see a cut lining around the entire gray covering, use your hands to pull the covering out.

Step 77: Construct the Controller

You will see more wires inside along with a string. The string is used if you want to cut the gray covering further, but this is not necessary for now.

Step 78: Construct the Controller

Go ahead and grab your smaller pair of wire cutters to strip the smaller wires inside the covering.

Step 79: Construct the Controller

There should be 8 wires that are 4 different colors along with their white pair. So 8 total wires.

Step 80: Construct the Controller

We will only be stripping 6 wires so choose the 3 colors you want to strip along with the white pairs. Find the 24 hole on the small pair wire strippers and place one wire into the hole about an 2 cm. in. Hold the excess wire and then pull to strip.

Step 81: Construct the Controller

Repeat the previous step 5 more times until all 6 wires are stripped. The copper ends should be showing.

Step 82: Construct the Controller

Now we need to take a look at the DPDT switches.

Each switch has 6 metal terminals with a small hole in the center of each one. Below is an image of the switch along with the 6 terminals.

Step 83: Construct the Controller

You will be wiring the wires we just stripped to each of the terminals. Order doesn’t particularly matter as long as you loop the color wires on one side and the white wires on another side. By sides, I mean the 3 terminals on one side the the other 3 on the other side.

Step 84: Construct the Controller

Each wire will be looped into the hole of one terminal. Make sure you carefully wrap the copper wire into the loop and squeeze it so that the copper wire does not touch any other terminal.

Step 85: Construct the Controller

Repeat this 5 more times with the rest of the wires until all the wires are looped and wrapped around each terminal.

Step 86: Construct the Controller

Use the solder and solder each terminal with the copper wire attached to it. Be careful so that each solder connection only touches one terminal.

Now, get out your soldering iron along with a tube of solder.

Step 87: Construct the Controller

When soldering, keep the soldering iron on the terminal for a maximum of 10 seconds, as the plastic of the switch can burn if it is placed on for a longer period of time.

Step 88: Construct the Controller

Solder all 6 terminals.

Once you are done, turn off the soldering iron and get your roll of electrical tape.

Step 89: Construct the Controller

Cut about (6) 1 inch pieces of electrical tape. Use each piece to wrap it around each individual terminal so that the solder can no longer be seen. The tape is used so that the connections have no chance of touching each other and shorting.

Step 90: Construct the Controller

After you complete this process, your switch is done. The switch is used to move the motor axle clockwise and counterclockwise.

Step 91: Wire the Motors

Connect the solid colored wire to the red/black wire.

Step 92: Wire the Motors

Solder the wires.

Step 93: Wire the Motors

Connect the white striped wire of the same color to the other red/black wire.

Step 94: Wire the Motors

Solder the wires.

Step 95: Wire the Motors

Repeat for the other 2 colors and motors.

Step 96: Wire the Motors

Tape all exposed copper wire with electrical tape.

Step 97: Connecting to Switches

Connect the wires of the same color to each other.

Wrap the browns around the base of the wire.

Step 98: Connecting to Switches

Solder colored wire connections, except for the oranges and browns.

Step 99: Connecting to Switches

Bring out the power pack.

Step 100: Connecting to Switches

Connect the white orange wire to the wire.

Step 101: Connecting to Switches

Connect the orange wire to the wire.

Step 102: Connecting to Switches

Use either electrical caps to secure in place, or solder.

Make sure that no separate copper wires are in contact.

Step 103: Connecting to Switches

Test switches and see what switch controls what motor. Put colored tape around each motor and its corresponding switch.

Step 104: Base for Controller

Mark wood with 3 dots # from the left and right # from the top, and with # in between each dot.

Step 105: Base for Controller

Make the SAME markings by putting the plastic over the wood and marking where the dots on the wood show through.

Step 106: Base for Controller

Drill a hole with the ⅝ inch drill bit with the dot as the center on the wood.

Step 107: Base for Controller

Drill a hole with the 7/32 inch drill bit with the dot as the center on the plastic.

Step 108: Base for Controller

Cut wood/plastic into desired shape, without messing up the holes.

Step 109: Base for Controller

Nail or screw the plastic to the wood.

Step 110: Base for Controller

Unscrew the nuts off the switches.

Step 111: Base for Controller

Put the switch/wire combos through the holes in the wood.

Step 112: Base for Controller

And then put the plastic over the switches.

Step 113: Base for Controller

Re-screw the nuts back on.

Step 114: Driving the Submarine

You've built your very own submarine! To control it in the water, the different color tapes were ordered to relate to their corresponding color of switch. If you test out moving the switches' knobs around, then you'll see that the motors will move in response.

Remember that when you place it in the pool to have hold onto the wire, so that you can pull it up any time.

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