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Teen Designs and Builds Working Submarine
May 28, 2013
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This New Jersey teen - who's previously designed and built remote control mops, miniature boats, and helmet cams - has upped the invention ante by creating a fully functional one-man submarine.

Justin Beckerman, a student at West Morris Mendham High School, built the vessel, which is capable of reaching depths of 30 feet, out of a drainage pipe (carefully sealed at both ends), the motor from a small fishing boat, a skylight (that's what the dome on top is made out of), and various other parts.

The 18 year old spent nearly six months designing and building the 3-metre (9 foot) craft, which cost about $2,000 to make.

According to (which dubbed the inventor a "teenage Thomas Edison"), the sub contains 2000 feet of wiring, lights, paddles and air compressors.

There is a motor on the back, regulator valves from an old soda machine and four "tractor-size battery systems."

Beckerman also threw in a few bells and whistles, including float sensors that can tell the sub's driver when tanks are full or empty, a horn, a CB radio to communicate with people on the surface and 1,400 watts of lights.

It's not exactly a speed boat, though: the sub tops out at 3-5 kilometres per hour. reports that the vessel even has a PA system, with speakers and a camera that broadcast a signal from a buoy to a TV screen, allowing viewers to watch on the surface.


Not surprisingly, the young upstart calls the vessel, "the most well-created device he's ever built".

Dubbed The Nautilus (Beckerman got the name from the first-ever nuclear-powered submarine, which took its name from the fictional ship in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) this air and water pressure-tested sub is "by far, the longest project I've ever worked on," according to its inventor.

As for what he's discovered while piloting the craft, the underwater explorer reports that "I saw tons of fish. I even picked up a crowbar and an old light fixture."

Beckerman's a precocious engineer, starting at the age of 5 when he began making flight-ready paper airplanes. Back then, he wowed his grandfather by building planes complete with cylindrical fuselages and accurate wings. Submarine3.jpg

At 11, he fashioned a remote control hovercraft from paper plates, paper bowls, some electronics and a motor while on a family vacation in Vermont.

He's since received a slew of awards from the VEX Robotics Gateway Competition.

At the moment, Beckerman's sub is floating at his parents' place at Lake Hopatcong, where neighbours report that he's not just a clever inventor, but also a talented handyman who can fix TVs and Jet Skis.

He plans on studying engineering in college.


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