Introduction: How to Build a PVC Submersible

Building your own submersible can be tough, especially when you have no prior experience. This instructable will give you a step by step on how to build a simple, functioning submersible than can be used for projects or just for fun.

Step 1: Getting Supplies for the Frame (And Other)

You will need:

  1. 3 12-V DC Motors
  2. Power Supply (Wire-able)
  3. 8 Three way PVC connectors
  4. 1 PVC T Connector
  5. 60 Inches of connected Ethernet wiring
  6. 3 Extra 2ft Cuts of Ethernet Wires
  7. 3 Non-stationary Toggle Switches
  8. 2 2” PVC
  9. 4 1’ PVC
  10. 7 6” PVC
  11. 1 8” PVC
  12. Pair of Latex Gloves
  13. 1 Socket Cap
  14. 10 Tie Wraps
  15. 1 Toilet Wax Ring
  16. 2 Small Ring Magnets
  17. Piece of Scrap Wood
  18. Electrical Tape
  19. 3 Film Canisters


  1. PVC Cutter
  2. Soldering
  3. Iron Solder
  4. Sponge
  5. Soldering Iron Cleaner
  6. Wire Cutter
  7. Wire Strippers
  8. Drill
  9. Scissor

Step 2: Building the Frame (Part 1)

Take 4 of the 6” pipes, and 4 of the three way connectors, and attach a piece of pipe between each three-way connector until you get a square. The 4 open holes of the connectors should be facing upwards as shown in the picture.

Step 3: Building the Frame (Part 2)

Next, turn your square on its side so the holes of the connectors face to the left or right of you, and so it stands up. Then, take the 4 one foot PVC pipes and insert each one into a corresponding connector socket until you get this shape.

Step 4: Building the Frame (Part 3)

Then take the 4 remaining three way connectors and attach each of them to the 1’ pipes like this. It should not be a complete base yet but the connectors should be pushed completely into place to avoid the PVC coming loose.

Step 5: Building the Frame (Part 4)

Then take the last 3 6” PVC and attach them to the top, left, and right like this...

Step 6: Building the Frame (Part 5)

Take the following items, 2 2” PVC pipes and 1 T connector and attach them to your sub like this. Put a 2 inch PVC on both sides and put them together with the T connector in the middle, making sure the extra notch is sticking out and not towards the interior of your submarine.

Step 7: Building the Frame (Part 6)

Take the 8” PVC and attach it to the T connector to make an arm like this. It should push into place fairly easily, and make sure you push it in completely to the connector to avoid the arm falling off since it will have weight on the end of it.

Step 8: Building the Frame (Part 7)

Finally, take the socket cap and the 2 magnets, and stick one magnet inside of the cap and put the other magnet outside of the cap. Then attach them to the open end of the 8” PVC like the image shows...

Step 9: Building the Motors

Grab your DC Motors, your film canisters, and your wax ring. Make sure you use gloves for the next steps. Make 3 penny sized and 3 nickel sized spheres of wax. Take the lid off of the film canister and insert a nickel sized wax ball into the canister. Press the ball down into the canister firmly. Then, insert the motor so that the pin sticks out the bottom end of the canister through the wax. Finally, stick another wax ball on top of the rest of the motor and close the lid for the canister. Take out excess if needed but make sure canister is now waterproof. Repeat two more times for the other motors.

Step 10: Wiring (Part 1)

Get your three toggle switches and your three 2' wires and bend one of the colors of wire to the side. Make sure that color isn't used for all of your wiring. Next, strip the end of all the wire. You can do this by taking a pair of wire strippers and making an indent where you want to strip, then cutting into it, almost to the wire, and pull the outer layer off. Just make sure to not cut into the wire. Solder the wire to the pins on the switches as shown in the drawing. Make sure all the switches are wired and soldered exactly the same so they can all work.

Step 11: Wiring (Part 2)

Take your wire-able power supply and your switches, then wire them together (twist the wires into each other and then solder over it, apply electrical tape as needed for waterproofing). There should be two wires for the power supply, the solid brown should be connected to one and the white-brown should be connected to the other. Lastly, you should twist together all of your brown wires to the end of the 60" main wire, solder and apply electrical tape as needed.

Step 12: Wiring (Part 3)

Then take the unoccupied end of the 60" and wire each pair of colored wires (Ex: Blue and Blue-White) to a motor. You should have three different colors, three different switches, and three different motors. Every color comes in a pair, make sure the pair of colors each get wired to their corresponding motor. Make sure to wire them according to the colors you used to wire your switches.

Step 13: Wiring (Part 4)

Now that you have your power supply connected as well as your motors and switches, you may be able to test the functioning of your motors! Plug in your power supply and practice flipping each switch both ways to make sure all three motors function in two different directions. If all three motors work, move on. If not, stay on this step for troubleshooting.

In the event motor(s) do not work, make sure to check everything you have done. More times than not, a wire may have accidentally snapped, shorted out by touching another wire, or the solder was inefficient and did not stay soldered properly. If you have checked everywhere for a likely mistake and come across none, consider rewiring your switches or trading out the power source to get your submersible motors to function.

Step 14: Attaching the Motors

Now that you have all three motors, attach them to your PVC frame. One goes under your T-connector and the other two go on the back end vertical pipes. To attach them, use 2-3 zip ties and once you have it facing the right way, add electrical tape to secure it in place. Finally, secure the wire coming out of the motors so as to prevent them from getting cut in the propellers.

Step 15: Waterproofing Wires

Now that your wires are all set, you have to make sure they don't short out in the water. Wrap electrical tape around the open wires that come from the motors. Fully encase to make sure it's waterproof. Once you have each connection taped up, wrap up the entire area in a tape cocoon.

Step 16: Making the Controller

Grab your finished three switches and a piece of spare plywood. Drill 3 holes into the woods at even intervals and unscrew the metal pieces from the bottom and insert the switched into the wood. Re-screw the pieces and make sure each switch still works. Sand the edges to make the controller more comfortable.

Step 17: Test Your Sub

Now that you have everything you need, you can test out the sub in a pool. Drop it in and you will notice that it floats really well. To make it less buoyant, remove the socket cap and fill the sub up with your desired amount of water until the sub is as close to neutral buoyancy as possible. Finally, play around with the sub and learn how to drive it!