Another Crazy Project
A Radio-Controlled Video-Equipped Submarine

Having a lovely boat on a wonderful lake, I got to thinking about other things to do at the lake.
In the 1980s my (then) husband and I got into Radio Control - he bought an airplane and I bought a helicopter and spent the next two years learning to fly it!

 In the late 1990s I added a 1/14th scale semi tractor and trailer - lots of fun to drive!

So, it seemed somewhat logical to consider an R/C boat for the lake, particularly since I dock on the edge of a large shallow marsh - perfect place for an R/C boat! I looked at model cabin cruisers, sternwheelers, tug boats, and then stumbled upon R/C submarines! (Oh oh! Here she goes again!) One submarine lends itself to carrying a video camera and that is the SB-1 "Neptune" by Thunder Tiger.

Some research produced a suitable video camera and a radio system to relay the video images to the mother ship in real time so all the components were put on order.

I abandoned my first attempt at a video buoy in favor of a design that provided greater heat-sinking for the 900 MHz transmitter (which dissipates 3 Watts!) The transmitter is mounted to a 4" square, 1/4" copper plate which in turn is mounted to the bottom of a 4.5" square cast aluminum utility box. Six D-size gel-cells provide 12 volt power. Composite video is fed to the transmitter through one SMA connector and the second connector is for the 900 MHz antenna. Two conductors extend through the cover: one from the battery positive terminal and the second to energize the transmitter.


The Neptune SB-1 arrived and checked out fine right out of the box. Leak test and ballast trim will wait until the camera has been installed. (The original video buoy is shown in the following pictures.)

With the arrival of the video equipment from Range Video, the DX201 camera was installed on the Power Distribution assembly. The size of the camera necessitated cutting a recess into the plastic switch panel. The camera mount was then split  and screwed to the panel as L-brackets to hold the camera. The Power Distribution assembly was then reinstalled in the sub after testing.


The 900 MHz transmitter was connected in the video buoy and tested before buttoning up the buoy.


After having trouble with the receiver and awaiting a replacement, I moved the camera to above the power distribution board to give a better view with a slightly downward angle and decided it was a good time to do a leak test (yes, there was one - my fault!) and trim the ballast. Not too bad for the first time the Neptune got wet :)

The view from the (wet) sub.

June 25 was the first trip to open water for the sub, Lake of the Woods, Rheault Bay Marina, for a test run off the side of my boat at the dock. The sub, video buoy, and laptop are prepared for the maiden voyage.

The video buoy is launched and the sub is about to take to the water.

And off she goes ........

Within a few minutes, things got REALLY INTERESTING!

(Click on the above image to go to youtube video)

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