Introduction: BTS - Team 28 (R2-DTimbs) Submersible/Submarine

Picture of BTS - Team 28 (R2-DTimbs) Submersible/Submarine

Tutorial for building a submersible out of materials that can be found at the local hardware store.

The final submersible will be able to move forwards, backwards, turn, move up, and move down throughout the water.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

Materials (as Pictured):

  • (1) 1/2" x 10' PVC Sch. 40 Plain-End Pipe
  • (4) 1/2" Sch. 40 PVC Tee
  • (6) 1/2" Sch. 40 PVC 90-Degree Elbow
  • (3) DPDT Mini Toggle Center Off Momentary
  • (1) 80' 24/4- Gauge Category 5e Riser Internet Wire - Gray
  • (3) Thruster DC Motor
  • (3) Propellers to fit DC Motors - Made for Underwater Usage
  • (2) 1/2" PVC Sch. 40 Socket Cap
  • (25) 8" Black Double-Locking Cable/Zip Ties
  • (2) Single Disk Magnet
  • (1) 1/2" x 6' Polyethylene Pipe Insulation
  • (1) Role of Black Electrical Tape
  • (3) Plastic Film Canister for DC Motors
  • (1) Wax Ring
  • (20+) Extra Wires in Different Colors

Tools/add. Materials (not Pictured):

  • Black Sharpie
  • Soldering Iron w/ Solder
  • PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Tape Measure
  • Wire Stripper
  • Superglue
  • Power Cord
  • Access to a Power Outlet
  • Printer Paper

Step 2: Making the Cuts in the PVC Pipe

Picture of Making the Cuts in the PVC Pipe

Materials:

  • (1) 1/2" x 10' PVC Sch. 40 Plain-End Pipe
  • Black Sharpie
  • PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Tape Measure

Steps:

  1. Mark a point at the left-most end of the PVC Pipe.
  2. From the preceding mark, measure 6" to the right with the tape measure and make a mark.
  3. Repeat the (above) step twice more, measuring from the preceding mark(s) and making more marks where instructed.
  4. From the last marking that you have made, measure 5" to the right with the tape measure and make a mark.
  5. Repeat the (above) step once more, measuring from the preceding mark(s) and making more marks where instructed.
  6. From the last marking that you have made, measure 1' to the right with the tape measure and make a mark.
  7. Repeat the (above) step once more, measuring from the preceding mark(s) and making more marks where instructed.
  8. From the last marking that you have made, measure 9" to the right with the tape measure and make a mark.
  9. From the last marking that you have made, measure 4" to the right with the tape measure and make a mark.
  10. Repeat the (above) step once more, measuring from the preceding mark(s) and making more marks where instructed.
  11. Using the PVC Pipe Cutter, make a cut at each of the marks that you had drawn on the pipe in the steps above.

Result:

  • (3) 6" cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (2) 5" cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (2) 1' cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (1) 9" cut of PVC Pipe
  • (2) 4" cuts of PVC Pipe
  • Spare PVC Pipe

Keep all of the cuts of PVC Pipe on hand for the next step, leaving any spare pieces of PVC Pipe to the side.

Step 3: Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 1)

Picture of Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 1)

Materials:

  • (2) 1' cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (4) PVC Elbows
  • (2) PVC Tees
  • PVC Pipe Cutters

Steps:

  1. Take one of the 1' pieces of PVC Pipe and cut it in half, so that the results are (2) 6" segments of pipe.
  2. Look at the PVC Tee: there are three openings on each PVC Tee, two of which are directly across from one-another / not perpendicular.
  3. In one of the (above) two openings, place one end of one piece of 6” PVC Pipe in one opening, exerting pressure so that the joint holds.
  4. Place one end of the other 6” segment in the other opening which is directly across from where you have attached the end of the other 6” segment.

  5. Place one end of one of the PVC Elbows on the free end of one of the 6” PVC Pipes of the structure made using the instructions above.

  6. Join one of the openings of the other PVC Elbow and the free end of the other 6” PVC Pipe located on the structure that you have created.

  7. Look at the image in 'Figure 1'. Your structure should match what is found in the image.

  8. Repeat the (above) steps with another 1' cut of PVC Pipe, two PVC Elbows, and a PVC Tee so that you have two structures akin to the one from Figure 1.

Step 4: Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 2)

Picture of Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 2)

Materials:

  • The Products of the Earlier Step (What Was Made in Part 1)
  • (2) 6" cuts of PVC Pipe

Steps:

  1. Attach one end of one of the 6” pieces of pipe to the opening of a PVC Elbow from one of the segments that was made during Part 1.
  2. Attach the open end of the same 6” piece to one of the PVC Elbows of the other segment of pipe that is horizontally across from it.
  3. Look at the image in 'Figure 3'. The connections that you have just made should resemble what is shown in the image.
  4. Attach the second of the 6” pieces between the openings of the two PVC Elbows located on the other sides of the segments that were made during Part 1, much like the 6" piece from the earlier steps had been attached.
  5. Look at the image in 'Figure 2'. The resulting frame that has been created should resemble what is shown in the image.

Step 5: Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 3)

Picture of Assemble the Basic Frame of the Submersible (Part 3)

Materials:

  • The Products of the Earlier Step (What Was Made in Part 2)
  • (2) 5" cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (1) 6" cut of PVC Pipe

Steps:

  1. Rotate the PVC Tees on the frame that was made in Part 2 in order for them to point downwards.
  2. Connect one end of one of the 5” pieces to one of the openings on one of the PVC Tee connectors.
  3. Connect the other 5” piece of PVC Pipe to the opening of the other PVC Tee in a similar fashion to how the first 5” piece was connected to the frame.
  4. Attach one of the openings of one of the PVC Elbow connectors to the open end of one of the 5” pieces of PVC Pipe.
  5. Attach one of the openings of the other PVC Elbow to the 5” piece of PVC that is currently not connected to a PVC Elbow.
  6. Attach the 6” piece so that its ends are connected to the open ends of both of the PVC Elbow connectors that are on the bottom of the structure.
  7. Look at 'Figure 4'. Your completed structure should resemble what is shown in the image from an aerial perspective.

Step 6: Assembling the Motors

Picture of Assembling the Motors

Materials:

  • Wax Ring
  • Electrical Tape
  • (3) Red Wires
  • (3) Black Wires
  • (3) Thruster (DC) Motors
  • (3) Propellers for the Motors
  • Soldering Iron + Solder
  • Wire Stripper
  • Scissors
  • Adhesive (e.g., Superglue)

Steps:

  1. Take out some of the wax that is found in the wax ring. Roll this wax into (6) small spheres, each of which have the same diameter as a nickel.
  2. Wrap each of your motors in electrical tape, making sure to cover any openings in the motors that lead to the internal components. This is to prevent any wax from entering and damaging the motors during later steps.
  3. Look at each motor. There should be two terminals on one end, one of which should have a red dot next to it, as shown in the (first) image above. The terminal with the red dot represents the the terminal that will connect to power, while the other one represents ground.
  4. For each of the (6) black/red wires that you will be using, use a wire stripper in order to strip 1" insulation off of one end and 3" insulation off of the other end. In order to properly strip your wires, determine the gauge of each wire (which of the numbers it fits next to on the wire stripper) before proceeding to remove the insulation.
  5. Plug in the soldering iron into a wall outlet and give it at least five minutes in order to heat up before usage.
  6. Take the first motor and one red wire on hand. Push the end of the wire that has 1" exposed copper through the terminal, so that it makes contact with the terminal's surface.
  7. In order to solder the wire to the terminal, briefly touch the soldering iron with the terminal before issuing contact between the tip of the iron and a small amount of solder. This will dispense a small sphere of solder on the joint, if done correctly, which will hold the wire and the terminal together.
  8. Take one black wire and push the end with 1" copper exposed through the remaining terminal of the first motor. Solder it to the terminal, similarly to how the red wire was soldered from a previous step.
  9. Using the remaining wires and motors, connect the red and black wires to the second and third motors in a similar fashion to the first motor as performed in earlier steps (5-8).
  10. Look at the first image that is assigned to this step. The motors that you have assembled should resemble the motor in the image.
  11. Open each of the plastic motor canisters, as shown in the materials, and insert a ball of wax per each. Place the lids of the canisters to the side.
  12. Take each of the motors and place it so that the shaft faces downwards and goes out through the hole in the bottom of the canister.
  13. Hold the power and ground wires of each motor so that they are above the open end of the canister.
  14. Insert another ball of wax into each canister above the motors, still making sure that the wires are above the canister.
  15. Take the lids of the canisters that were set to one side. Insert each set of +/- wires through the holes in the lid and use pressure to attach the lids back on the canister.
  16. Wipe away the excess wax from the lids and shafts of the motors.
  17. Apply super glue to the insides of each propeller, then move the shafts of each motor through a propeller, so that the motors have one propeller each.
  18. Look at the second of the images that are provided for this step. The arrangement of the motor, wax, and wires inside of the canisters and outer propeller should match the order shown in this diagram.

Step 7: Attaching the First and Second Motors

Picture of Attaching the First and Second Motors

Materials:

  • (2) Zip Ties
  • (2) Assembled Waterproof Motors (from the Previous Step)
  • Frame of the Submersible
  • Electrical Tape
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Attach one of the motors to one end of one of the longer ends of the upper frame of the submersible using a single zip tie. Make sure that the propeller is facing away from the submersible.
  2. Attach the other motor directly across from the motor that you have recently attached (using a zip tie), then attach this one alongside the PVC Pipe. Make sure that the propeller is facing outwards of the submersible's frame.
  3. Look at the first image that is meant to illustrate this step. The placement of the motors should match the placement of the motors in the image. This is so that both motors can be used to control movement on the horizontal plane.
  4. In order to give each of the motors more support (so that they do not fall off the PVC Pipe), bind the motors and the pipe together through the wrapping of electrical tape.
  5. The second image that is provided with this step shows how a motor would look, were it wrapped in tape upon the motor where it is affixed.

Step 8: Adding to the Submersible's Frame

Picture of Adding to the Submersible's Frame

Materials:

  • The Submersible's Frame (Made From Following Previous Steps)
  • PVC Pipe Cutters
  • Black Sharpie
  • Tape Measure
  • (2) PVC Tees
  • (2) PVC End Caps
  • (2) 4" cuts of PVC Pipe
  • (1) 9" cut of PVC Pipe
  • (4) Zip Ties

Steps:

  1. Make a mark (using the sharpie) in the middle of the 6” PVC Pipe that is located on the bottom of the submersible.
  2. Draw another mark 1” to the left of the center mark, then draw another mark 1” to the right of the center mark.
  3. Use the PVC Pipe Cutters to make a cut on the marks that are to the left and right of the center mark. The result is a gap in the 6” piece of PVC Pipe on the bottom of the submersible.
  4. In this gap, insert a PVC Tee connector, making sure that the open ends of PVC Pipe that face the gap are tightly secured inside of the openings of the connector that are directly across from one-another.
  5. Take the 9” piece of PVC Pipe and attach one end inside of the open end of the PVC Tee connector.
  6. Take another PVC Tee connector from the materials, and attach the opening that is perpendicular to the other openings to the open end of the 9” piece of PVC Pipe. The PVC Tee should be facing downwards.
  7. Take one piece of 4” PVC and attach one of its ends to one of the open ends of the PVC Tee.
  8. With the other 4” piece, attach one end of this piece to the remaining open end of the PVC Tee.
  9. Secure each of the two PVC End Caps around each of the two openings that are left by the 4" segments of PVC Pipe.
  10. Look at the first image which is specific to this step. Based on the alterations that you have recently made to your submersible's frame, it should look like the frame that is shown in the image.
  11. Thread one of the zip ties through the opening of another zip tie in order to form a zip tie that is double the size of a regular zip tie.
  12. Make another extended zip tie using the remaining two zip ties.
  13. Circle one of the extended zip ties around the 9" vertical segment of PVC Pipe and one of the 5" segments that are parallel to the the 9" piece.
  14. Circle the other zip tie around the 9" vertical segment of PVC Pipe and the other 5" segment that is parallel to the 9" piece.
  15. Look at the second image that is provided with this step. The zip ties should be fastened to the lower half of the submersible, as is shown in the image.

Step 9: Attaching the Third Motor

Picture of Attaching the Third Motor

Materials:

  • (1) Assembled Waterproof Motor (not Connected to the Submersible)
  • The Submersible's Frame (Made From Following Previous Steps)

Steps:

  1. Position the third motor so that it is parallel to the 9” PVC Pipe in the middle of the submersible. Make sure that the propeller is facing downwards.
  2. Move the motor upwards/downwards so that it is near the bottom of the 9” pipe, or so that the propeller is about 1"-2” from the bottom of the submersible.
  3. Attach the motor to the frame of the submersible, by binding the 9" PVC Pipe and the motor with a zip tie. Electrical tape can be wrapped around the motor and the pipe in order to make sure that the motor does not dislodge from the submersible.

Step 10: Attaching the Magnets

Picture of Attaching the Magnets

Materials:

  • (2) Disk Magnets
  • Electrical Tape
  • Scissors
  • The Submersible's Frame (Made From Following Previous Steps)

Steps:

  1. Twist a piece of tape so that it can pass through one of the magnets.
  2. Thread the twisted tape through a magnet and position the magnet on top of one of the PVC End Caps of the Submersible.
  3. Partially wrap the magnet in tape so that it is securely fastened onto the pipe, yet is not fully covered.
  4. Repeat a similar process with the other magnet, positioning it on top of the other PVC End Cap.
  5. Look at the image that pertains to this step. Each of the magnets that you have affixed to the pipe should appear as shown in the image.

Step 11: Electronics (Preview)

Picture of Electronics (Preview)

This diagram (above) shows how your electronics should be configured when you are done connecting each component together. Though you can use this diagram in order to determine how you should wire your switches, motors, etc. together, the following steps break this process into smaller sections.

Step 12: Attaching Wires to the Switches

Picture of Attaching Wires to the Switches

Materials:

  • (3) DPDT Switches
  • Soldering Iron + Solder
  • (18) Assorted Wires of the Same Width
  • Wire Strippers

Steps:

  1. Look at the first diagram assigned to this step. The diagram details the connections that need to be made from the switch to the power cable and to the motor. In order to make the steps easier to follow, the wires and connections between wires will be referred to by the colors that appear in the diagrams.
  2. Strip 0.5" from each end of each of the eighteen wires using wire strippers.
  3. For the first switch, six wires are needed. Thread each wire through each of the six terminals so that the terminals are connected to one wire each. Hook the ends of the wires around each switch.
  4. Solder (carefully) small amounts of solder to the points where each of the terminals and the wires meet. Make sure that no terminal/wire is in contact with another terminal/wire. Keep in mind that the body of the switch is made of plastic and will melt if you apply excess heat to it.
  5. Look at the second image in this step. This is how your connections should look, so nothing is shorted out by accident.
  6. Repeat this step with the additional wires and switches so that each switch is connected to six different wires.

Step 13: Connecting the Switches to the Power Cord

Picture of Connecting the Switches to the Power Cord

Materials:

  • (1) Power Cord
  • (3) Switches Soldered to Wires (from Previous Step)
  • Soldering Iron + Solder
  • Wire Stripper

**Note: Some of the wires that were connected to the switch are not shown in the diagram in order to make the image clearer, but should be present in reality.

Steps:

  1. Note the color of the wires that you have soldered to the switches versus the colors that I have used. Remember the order of your wires and how they correspond to the wires that are pictured in the image (above). Translate the steps in order to fit your parts based upon this ordering, as I will be referring to the colors that are present in the diagrams.
  2. Strip 2" of insulation from the end of the power cord that is not to be connected to an outlet. Two wires will appear beneath this insulation.
  3. Strip one inch of insulation from each of the two wires that comprise the power cord.
  4. Connect the wires that should go to power (in purple) to the wire of the power cord that is the power wire (red).
  5. Connect the wires that should go to ground (in black) to the wire of the power cord that is not currently connected to anything else, and is therefore ground (the larger black wire).

Step 14: Connecting Switches to Internet Cable

Picture of Connecting Switches to Internet Cable

Materials:

  • 80' Internet Cable
  • (3) Switches Soldered to Wires (from Previous Step)
  • Wire Strippers
  • Soldering Iron + Solder

**Note: Some of the wires that were connected to the switch are not shown in the diagram in order to make the image clearer, but should be present in reality.

Steps:

  1. Strip 6" of insulation from one end of the 80' roll of cable using the wire strippers. There should be a total of eight wires that are located inside of the insulation. Two of these are not needed, and can be discarded.
  2. For the remaining six wires that will be used, strip 1" of insulation from each.
  3. The wires, which should be connected in a certain order, are labeled "A", "B", "C", and "D." "A" and "D" should be connected, while "B" and "C" should be connected.
  4. As per the diagram, twist each set of the the non-insulated ends of the pink and orange wires together. Twist the copper ends of the switches' blue and green wires together as well. You should end up with six pairs of connected wires.
  5. Per each pair of wires that are shown on the diagram, twist together the non-insulated end of one of the six 80' wires from the longer roll of cable.
  6. Solder each of the connections between the wire pairings and the internet wire so that it stays connected.

Step 15: Connecting the Switches to the Motors Through Internet Cable

Picture of Connecting the Switches to the Motors Through Internet Cable

Materials:

  • 80' Internet Cable (Connected to Switches)
  • Wire Strippers
  • Soldering Iron + Solder

**Note: The motors, at this stage, should be mounted on the frame of the submersible. However, in the diagram they are shown separately for ease of view.

Steps:

  1. Inside of the 80' cable, there are six wires, or, three pairs of six wires. Each of the following pairs of wires share a switch: Maroon/Tan, Light Green/Dark Green, Light Blue/Dark Blue. Because each pair shares a switch, they must share the same motor.
  2. For the first motor, twist together the ground wire of the motor (black) with the maroon wire. A close-up of a twisted wire has been included in the diagram. Twist together the tan wire with the power wire of the motor (red).
  3. Connect the rest of the power/ground motor wires to their respective pairings, as indicated in the diagram shown (above).

Step 16: Cover the Wires With Tape

Picture of Cover the Wires With Tape

Cover all of the exposed wire with electrical tape in order to prevent breakage or shorting between close wires. This will also make the connections water-resistant, so that little damage occurs to the wiring on account of the water in the pool where the submersible will be tested. Keep in mind that not all of the wires in the image have been sealed off with tape.

Step 17: Testing the Submersible

Picture of Testing the Submersible

Materials:

  • 6' PVC Pipe Insulation
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Continually test your submersible to see if it is of neutral buoyancy, sinks, or floats. The ideal testing facility is a pool, as is shown in the images (above). Connect the power cord to the power outlet, then use the switches to control the direction in which the submersible moves.
  2. Cut off pieces of pipe insulation from the 6' length, cut along the vertical seam of each segment, and add to the submersible (as needed) in order to reach the level of buoyancy that you would like it to have.

Comments

Swansong (author)2017-02-02

It came out well!

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