Request information about the sale price of a fully automated miniature submarine.

Hello, my name is Jon Baum, and I am a Professor of Engineering at an Arizona University. At the beginning of every year, I assign my
students a problem that has to be solved, a class project, if you like, and at the end of each year, I take and frequently accept proposals from the class of that year about what the next year's project should be. One particularly intelligent student this year suggested that the next year's class should have the problem of building a fully automated submarine. I immediately seized upon the idea, as it presents numerous challenges, as well as being quite interesting from an aesthetic standpoint as well as an engineering one. The proposal was as follows (paraphrased, and with minor adjustments by myself): A competent and elegant solution must be reached for the following problem: Construction of a working submarine, not exceeding in length 50 centimeters, in height and width 15 centimeters. Said submarine must be able to attain a depth 100 meters below the surface of a body of fresh water. It also must be fully automated, requiring no direct control, and capable of responding to stimulus competently. It must be seaworthy enough to withstand with no repairs a vowage of six weeks, carry enough sensory equipment to navigate, enough computing power to avoid detection, and it must be able to carry a payload (e.g. a camera or a dud missile) and be able to deploy that payload or use it on its six week voyage. It must also be able to recharge its batteries or refeul efficiently and expediantly. Put bluntly, my problem is one of funding. I was hoping for my university to fund me, but they are not sure that the investment is a wise one. I do not want to burden my students with matters of pedagogical solvency, nor do I want to foot the bill entirely by myself. My question is, in the opinions of those who read this: What price do you think such a device as I have here described can fetch on say, eBay?
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That's a tough one. It might get all of a few hundred dollars or a couple thousand, depending on how it looked, what useful purpose it could do, etc.
If you geared it towards a particular purpose, eg exploring underwater caves, or the search portion of search and rescue, or inspecting bridge pilings, you could probably do a good bit better. In that case, the device might easily be worth a great deal more.
There is a serious problem of how you are going to test out the devices. Are you going to launch them in some private lake and hope that they all come back to the dock in 6 weeks?
This sounds like something that would be fun to put on a TV show as an intercollegiate competition.
Michael
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Have a look at www.psubs.org.
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Other potential sources of funding that you may consider, in no particular order: =>Society of Manufacturing Engineers (they have a slush fund for Educational Endowment & Funding) =>possibly American Society of Mechanical Engineers & IEEE =>DARPA or NSF =>Probably your best bet would be localized solicitation of businesses (especially system integrators) and vendors of industrial stuff. Lots of times they will make donations of old but entirely suitable gear and also cash for the P.R. it will bring. But you gotta do the P.R. thing to keep them happy.
My SME chapter "sponsored" a couple of "engineering" competitions for high school students like "toothpick bridge building". The schools loved it, gave them something to do with the students. It took a bit of coordination (advice: have consistent, enforceable rules) to make it successful. Final competition was at a mall. We solicited businesses to "participate in the education of the next generation of engineers" or some such. They threw buckets of money and gear at us. Everybody jumped at the chance to get in on the P.R. bandwagon "for the students".
I think you would be wasting your time on eBay.
And change your scope of project, since it's student project. Make the vehicle maneuver a swimming pool (where are you gonna find something that's 100m deep....and be able to track the progress of such? And lastly, I heard a story once about a guy presenting to his German colleagues. He was describing his design in terms of centimeters. The colleague jumped up in disgust and said "Carpenters use centimeters! Engineers use MILLIMETERS!" Or so the story goes, but I hope you get the point.
I'm_Curly_Today

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Dear Jon Baum:
...

...
Ah, so an autonomous torpedo. They have tried this with self-guided automobiles. And you want to add a third axis of motion, remove the constraints on obstacles, and require it to seek its own power. There are self-guided vacuum cleaners that do part of this.

It would be prevented from availablity for sale, as a national security threat.
David A. Smith
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Inspection of oil rigs, fish finder,
What a thing sells for depends on what the buyer thinks it is worth. Some industries pay a lot more for the same thing than others do.
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Dear president:
* for use in a body of fresh water * no direct control * no mention of communications capability * voyage of six weeks * able to navigate * able to avoid detection * carry and deploy a payload (with specific mention of a missle) * self-refueling
It is intended for neither of your proposed uses.
David A. Smith
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AVOID DETECTION? That statement alone guarantees this is aimed at a military or terrorist application. I can think of no legitimate student justification for a requirement to avoid detection.
--
Harry Andreas
Engineering raconteur
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On Fri, 31 Mar 2006 10:59:39 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@computer.org (Harry Andreas) wrote:

Here's one, at least.
"Ooh look, here's a shiny thing just sitting on the surface like a submarine. Can I take it home Mom? Please, please?"
Brian Whatcott Altus OK
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[snip]
If this is a student project, why the concern about a sale price (other than as a design parameter)?
As for funding, what about the TV channels (Learning, Discovery, et al) that have programs about (re)building things? The producers of that programming seems to be able to get quite a bit of donated products, services, etc.
I'd question the dive depth parameter specified. It's fine to have it as a design parameter, but if you send the vehicle to that depth and it doesn't come back, recovery is going to be quite difficult, especially if it's to be undetectable.
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Put bluntly that's such a lousy spec I am amazed that anyone takes it seriously.
At least 100 thousand dollars as described. The spec is impossible for any meaningful value of cruising speed, if it can return to the surface.
However if I were to cheat and say that the cruising speed is not defined, and return to the surface is not required, you have just described a stone with a camera on it and some means of aiming it, then less than $1000.
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Jon Baum wrote:
[%X]

Take a look at <http://www.larwe.com/ . There is something on a submarine project along the lines your students were thinking described there. The site's owner is amenable to discussing his experiences on the project.
--
********************************************************************
Paul E. Bennett ....................<email:// snipped-for-privacy@amleth.demon.co.uk>
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On 30 Mar 2006 16:41:55 -0800, "Jon Baum"

$476
Brian Whatcott Altus OK
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Torpedoes are faster and have a bigger payload, but this device has abilities way beyond a torpedo in some respects. A torpedo runs about a million dollars a pop.
Cheers
Greg Locock
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wrote:

Gregg,
here was the question: " My question is, in the opinions of those who read this: What price do you think such a device as I have here described can fetch on say, eBay?"
That's eBay, not DoD. So let me ask: would you pay a million for a 20 inch long submersible boat with photocells and a micro-controller on eBay?
If so, there must be something I could sell you too?
Regards
Brian Whatcott Altus OK
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Brian Whatcott wrote:

He didn't say that's what anybody would pay he suggested a million is what it would cost to build, which makes The OP's question irrelevant. Whatever they pay it won't be enough.          The whole thing sounds pretty bogus. As far as I can tell to satisfy the problem requirements the class simply needs to build a device that will submerge out of sight and then reappear 6 weeks later. For the professor to check on the rest of his silly requirements would require equipment even more sophisticated then his theoretical device itself.
-jim
-
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One of the requirements was that it be undetectable.
One thought that occurred to me while reading the OP is where anywhere near Tempe are they going to find water 100 m. deep to test the device?
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Dear Everett M. Greene:
...

"an Arizona University" is inclusive of Arizona State, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. And that would be Roosevelt Dam, Roosevelt Dam, and one of the dams along the Colorado respectively. Besides, they'd likely go someplace cooler for trials... like the Great Lakes.
David A. Smith
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message

I would imagine that planning to make such a device and test it or deploy it around a major dam would generate an alphabet soup of interest before it was over.
Michael
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wrote:
///

Hmmmm... to check for 100 meter submersion capability I would be tempted to do what is done with watches. Put them in a strong container full of water, then apply 150 psi of air or preferably hand pumped water. (A converted grease gun would do nicely) That sophisticated little test might cost me - oh $15??
Isn't that how engineers usually test?
Brian Whatcott Altus OK
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