Scratch Built Subnautica Sub Explores The Pool

In Subnautica, players explore an alien underwater landscape with the help of a number of futuristic tools and vehicles. [Robert Cook] found himself particularly enamored with the large submarine you unlock towards the later parts of the game, so much so that he decided to build his own real-life version.

Even though the RC version of the Cyclops [Robert] has designed is only big enough to explore swimming pool sized alien landscapes, it’s by no means a simple build. In fact, the sub’s internal watertight compartment holds an impressive array of electronics and systems that are arguably overkill for what’s essentially a toy. Not that we’re complaining, of course.

Beyond the electronics and a few key components, almost every part of the RC Cyclops has been 3D printed. From the bulkheads that cap off the internal watertight acrylic tube to the hull itself, there’s a lot of plastic aboard this ship. Which might explain why it takes nearly two kilograms of lead weight to get the sub close to neutral buoyancy. From there, a clever ballast tank arrangement made from a syringe and peristaltic pump allow the vehicle to dive and surface on command.

[Robert] is in the process of releasing the STL files for all the submarine’s 3D printed components, and has done an excellent job of documenting the roughly four months he’s spent working on the project in a series of videos on his YouTube channel. The videos contain a wealth of fascinating tips and tricks regarding DIY submersible vehicles, such as selecting the proper radio frequencies for maximum penetration through water and counteracting the permeability of 3D printed parts with a generous coating of epoxy.

Modern RC hardware makes it easier than ever to cobble together a “submarine”, but there’s still something to be said for a project that takes the long way around and actually implements features like a functioning ballast system.

[Thanks to kemfic for the tip.]

6 thoughts on “Scratch Built Subnautica Sub Explores The Pool

  1. Man this takes me back to the countless hours spent looking at rc sub builds on I was fascinated by all the handmade brass parts and the WTCs made from plumbing parts, but never had the money or time to attempt one. Awesome project, once all the files are released I might have to steal his WTC design for a small nautilus build!

  2. Wow, he really did an amazing job and one of the best things are when he says he decided a different design because the majority of 3D printers couldn’t print his earlier designs….

    True open source hero.

    mad props and tnx for that Robert :) :)

    1. Heh, think I’ve got this one. Hasn’t been out of the storage for a while though. Click down to the Car Bizarre feature, P57, see if anything looks a bit familiar.

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