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Neptune SB-1 radio-controlled submarine provides real-time underwater video


January 7, 2010

The Neptune SB-1 radio-controlled submarine

The Neptune SB-1 radio-controlled submarine

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How would you like to be one of those people who remotely-operate those little unmanned submarines, watching their live video feeds as they explore shipwrecks or engage giant squids? Well, good luck with that. In the meantime, you can make due with buying a Thunder Tiger Neptune SB-1 radio-controlled submarine. By installing the optional mini video camera inside its clear nose cone, you can proceed to explore the briny depths of your local lake, pond or swimming pool.

There are several videos on the web that were shot by watertight video cameras mounted to the outside of RC subs. While the footage may look neat, the sub operator didn’t get to see any of it until the camera was back on dry land. The SB-1, by contrast, has a 15-meter video cable that hooks up to a portable LCD monitor (Also optional), so you can see what the camera sees in real time. A wireless video system would certainly be less cumbersome, but video signals travel very poorly underwater. Some hobbyists have suggested using just enough video cable to reach the surface, then attaching it to a wireless transmitter on a buoy. Perhaps..?

The optional video system isn’t the SB-1’s only snazzy feature. Many RC subs utilize a dynamic diving system, meaning that they use the hydrodynamic force of the water flowing over their wing-like diving planes to submerge. That means they must be moving forward to move down, and that they can’t move forward without moving down. Additionally, they start to float back up as soon as they stop moving. The SB-1, however, is a static diving sub. Because it submerges by pumping water into its ballast tank, it can move straight up or down, hover at that depth, then move forward without changing depth - Unless you want it to.

The SB-1 has a maximum operating depth of five meters, although it can make it down to ten still intact. In the event that it does leak, lose radio contact, or deplete its battery, it will automatically purge its ballast tank and float back to the surface. Unfortunately, a sub of this calibre doesn’t come cheap. The suggested retail price of the SB-1 is $US700, although most online retailers offer it for about $570. While the camera and monitor are extras, you could presumably use less expensive ones, as long as the camera was small enough. But really... Is it possible to put a price on discovering a sunken Spanish galleon over in Beaver Lake?

The following video of a Titanic wreck model was shot by the Neptune SB-1.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Recreational use of submarine technology is one way to make everyone care more about the environment while having fun. In Minnesota we have a lot of lakes and people usually see only the surface.Awareness of what is going on under the waves will make people care more about keeping our lakes and rivers clean and healthy for ourselves and the marine life. $700 is a bit expensive but with popularity comes more competition. I hope to see these sold at Costco or Target some day.

Carlos Grados

What a great idea for inspecting water supply channels on cotton fields ! Currently the use of scuba divers is very costly & very cold in the winter months .

Mick Perger

We all live in a Yellow Submarine! Except we don't because it's a radio controlled camera that lives inside.

Alex Lekander
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