8 Replies Latest reply on May 10, 2018 6:18 PM by davidrediger

    Wireless Controlled Submarine


      I am a young hobbyist in electronics and have an idea in mind to build a small submarine which I can control using a computer or iPad. I was wondering what to use to communicate with the submarine, and whether to use an Arduino, Rasberry Pi or a Beaglebone Black ?...I am still not very fluent in all the tech dialogue so if you can try too keep the answers a bit simple..Thanks

        • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

          Hello carl1126,

          Welcome to the element14 Community, we hope you are enjoying it! I will move this over to our Single-Board Computers area as it is a better fit to your question.



          Thank you,



          • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

            Hi Carl,

            It sounds like a very interesting project.

            Arduino is lower cost and simpler to implement that the other 2 platforms, and it should fine for your application.


            There are 3 technologies that come to mind for short range underwater communications:

            1. acoustics or ultrasonics (sonar)
            2. radio
            3. light

            Commercial versions of these systems seem to be pretty expensive, but you may be able to make your own at low cost.

            If you keep the commands simple, (say 6 commands - go, stop, left, right, up, down) you could just flash a, underwater LED light at 6 different frequencies to indicate the 6 commands. This would not even require a microcontroller, just some simple digital circuitry. A variation of this is to flash the light at a fixed frequency so ambient light, which does not flash at this frequency, can be ignored. The flashing light would stay on for different lengths of time depending on which command you want to send. Blue light travels further underwater than other colours.


            If you also have a light on your sub, it might be easier to see where it is - you could have another command to toggle this on and off to save power.


            Another (more complex) approach is to give your sub a sequence of commands using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi while it is on the surface. It would then execute the commands autonomously and then surface (or come up to "periscope depth" to wait for a new sequence of commands.



            3 of 3 people found this helpful
            • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

              Hey Carl,

              most things i've seen in movies etc. is a wire running down to the submarine. This setup has different benefits:


              - you don't need a power supply under water so this can save you some trouble with that.

              - you communicate with an ethernet cable which is also running down with your power cable.

              - the risk of losing connection with your sub becomes a lot smaller.

              - you can give as many different commands as you want.

              - wireless signals have a hard time travelling through water with a cable those problems are of the road. (it also means that your sub can go a lot deeper with a cable than with a wireless connection, depeding on the length of the cable of course)

              - later on if you want to upgrade your sub it's possible to install a camera and send the footage life to your ipad. (in this case I would use a raspberry pi)


              but you need to have a long cable which can caus lower power efficiency. And I know a cable is more boring than wireless but I think it's easier and it opens up a lot of ather cool oppertunities (the camera for example).


              If you keep things "simple" (not installing a camera for example) you can use a arduino which is cheaper and easier to use (at least I think, I haven't used the beaglebone yet)


              I wish you the best of luck with your project,



              PS: if you see any mistakes in terms of language forgive me, its not my native language. (I tried my best)

              4 of 4 people found this helpful
              • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

                Hey, me again,

                I have someone in my class and he wil make a underwater gps-like system based on sonar (soundwaves). I think it's possible to contact your submarine with sonar signals. But I don't know how exactly.

                  • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

                    It is possible to use sound waves yes but the data rate will be much slower and your signal processing will need to be more sophisticated to eliminate noise (The un wanted noise ). Also if your using many sonar sources to create this GPS type system you will need to consider depth as well as having to add many more sound receivers on the craft. This route is undoubtedly a much more complex one. possibly far more interesting too though.


                    Without wires (A tether ) attached to the craft, it will be a matter of when you lose it, not if you lose it, one of the other issues of course is waterproofing it, and the deeper you go the harder it will be to keep the water out.


                    either choice should provide a lot of learning and fun


                    I look forward to hearing more about it as you proceed.

                    3 of 3 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

                      I am a former submariner, it would be easier to create an inertial navigation system from gyro/accelerator chips and update position when at or near surface using GPS. Relaying position data via sonar signals is problematic, You have to have accurate range and azimuth data from your base GPS location then be able to accurately calculate speed and direction of your submersible to correct your position data over time.


                      A simple dead reckoning algorithm care update youor position while submerged.

                      2 of 2 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Wireless Controlled Submarine

                      Are you doing a Submersable ROV for underwater research or a Model Submarine (i.e. diesel boat, 594 cl, 637 cl, 688 cl, Polaris/Trident cl, etc). If it is a model will it be able to launch torpedoes or missiles?