Picture of How to build a ROV (Submarine)
A while back I was looking around on the internet and saw someone's home built ROV. I thought to myself that I could never build that. 3 weeks later, I had built a fully functional ROV. An ROV is a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle,  and I have built mine to explore an old  town under my lake. The ROV costs roughly about $150, depending on what materials you want. I still have to work out some bugs on the tether and I still have to finish the camera setup. It has taken Longer than I expected to finish the camera stuff. Check out the most recent video of it here: . Sadly, I didn't document the process until later in the project. 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Starting the project

Picture of Starting the project
poopingpoo 204.JPG
To begin your project, you have to sketch out an idea. I had a pretty simple design. Also, you will want to get your pvc as your maine material. Here is what you will want to have for the project:
Hot glue gun
X-acto knife
Hammer, screw driver...ect.
Solder gun
Hot glue sticks (100 pack is best)
contact cement
pvc cement
16 feet of 3/4 inch PVC
8 three way elbow connectors
4 T connectors
Webcam, Gopro, or any small camera
PVC tube for camera (I don't have the dimensions)
Duct Tape roll
Hardware mesh screen
3 three volt motors
3 propellers
Balsa wood
3 DPDT switches
Floats (Pool noodles work best)
300 feet of 14 gauge wire (Doorbell wire works best)
Sheet of Plexiglass
3 "D" battery holders that hold 2 "D" batteries in series
6 "D" batteries
A lot of time and patience!!!

bsachris232 months ago
What was the total cost?
Videographer101 (author) 10 months ago
@Imfny I really like the idea of the peanut butter jar. Wish I had thought of that! Also, I did use PVC cement to secure the frame together, and then used hot glue for securing the smaller parts like motors
lmfny10 months ago

I'm building my first ROV now. For the camera, I'm going to try using an old webcam I have lying around. For the camera housing, my 10 year old daughter came up with a very simple solution -- an empty plastic peanut butter jar. I plan on drilling a small hole through the lid to run the wires through and sealing it with silicone. Then I can mount it sideways using a couple of zip ties.

lmfny10 months ago

Instead of hot glue, you could use PVC cement which is much stronger and only requires a small application.

bretfuller1 year ago
Can you tell me how much all of the wires cost for this project?
Videographer101 (author) 1 year ago
To build a working ROV with all of the parts there, I'd say about 4-5 days, but I had to get a lot of parts, so it took about 2 weeks. Also, I do think it would be pretty easy to make a ROV move laterally. I am currently adding new motors to it (800 gph bilge pumps) and one of them is on the side allowing it to move sideways. And to control it all you need is either a couple of switches or to use a micro controller, like arduino.
Great instructable.

How many man-hours would you say it took to get a working ROV?

Also, how finely do you think you could control something like that? I'm doing an engineering project with an ROV and I need to be able to keep it a regular distance from the hull of a boat and move laterally, does that sound doable to you?
Wouldn't your motors break with all that water in them??????
I've been trying to make a boat/sub but I can't figure out how to get the props in the water without exposing the motors.
Videographer101 (author)  FoamboardRC1 year ago
The motors are low voltage, which which is not effected by the water. However they will rust and if you put them in saltwater there is no way to protect the motors from corrosion.
Really? That's interesting. Even in freshwater, wouldn't the motor rust?
Videographer101 (author)  FoamboardRC1 year ago
Yes, but they rust very slowly. You can also use W-D 40 to protect the motors.
Ok thank you very much!
KKHausman1 year ago
For the pilot-video capability on SeaPerch-like ROVs, I found that a backup camera ($10-15 USD) and a small TFT display (another$15-20 USD) works very well. By making that a modular item that can be connected to different student's ROVS, then it can be shared by several students. I picked up a 150' cable that provides audio/video and power for security lights ($12 USD) and water-sealed the camera into a module that can just pop on/off the ROV unit. I used a GoPro for recording the dive but for the workshop participants, the live feed was by far the most popular element.
For the LEDs, you can just pour clear plastic resin around the exposed panel to waterproof it all for a buck or two.
By far one of the best instructables I have seen!