Three-Phase Submersible Thruster is Open Source and Awesome

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Have you ever considered building some kind of underwater vehicle? It’s rather ambitious but [Dane] of Transistor-Man has designed and built a working submersible 3-phase electric thruster — and he’s released the plans online for all to share!

He decided to make this for his 3D printed canoe (another awesome project) which is possible due to his massive SCARA robot 3D printer. The thruster makes use of readily available off the shelf components, but with 3D printed cones for decreased water resistance and other manufactured parts. The housing is water-jet cut, and the poly-carbonate tube had grooves for seals made using a lathe.  The amount of detail in his build logs is incredible — he’s fully modeled all parts in what looks like SolidWorks and uploaded detailed images and designs of all the parts.

The trickiest part of the build was making it water-tight. His first test was to submerge it in a water bath for 8 minutes, and once that was proven, he filled the inside with 5W-20 oil to make sure it wouldn’t leak the other way as well. One of his project goals is for this thruster to work 1 meter underwater without losing more than 10ml of the coolant (oil) per hour.

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DIY ROV explores the watery depths

This rig looks so good it’s hard to believe this is the first ROV that [DZL] has ever built. It houses an HD camera which feeds the display at the operator’s station. You can see the controller to the left of that screen which uses a joystick and buttons to pilot the underwater vessel.

In order to simplify construction, [DZL] decided not to use propellers. The problem with that technique is that you need to have bearings that will allow the propeller shafts to turn without letting water in. Propulsion is instead provided by a group of small water pumps whose intake is on one end and outflow is on the other. These are mounted at various places on the body and each have one power cable that connects to the control circuitry in the main housing. The passage of cables through the enclosure is another possible leak point, but [DZL] found some off the shelf bushings that ended up making it pretty easy.

The link at the top is a round-up of all the different project posts. For us, the most interesting Flickr set is the one showing how the enclosure is put together. There is also a pretty neat dive video after the break that shows the craft being tested underwater.

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