The Fun & The Facts of RC Submarine
From humble beginnings, remote-controlled vehicles have captured the minds (and money!) of many adventurous souls. Often referred to as “RC” or “Radio-Controlled,” these machines allow users to go new places in an exciting way. Often beginning during childhood, and continuing into adulthood, RC vehicles have provided countless hours of entertainment and adventure to audiences of all kinds. One such machine in the RC world stands out, by letting you experience places you otherwise could not: RC Submarines!
Due to amazing advances in technology, devices like these can be obtained on virtually any budget. Of course, the most advanced and capable contraptions will cost you a significant amount of money, but even the most budget friendly options offer great features. From recording videos and pictures, live-streaming real time footage, moving at impressive speeds and reaching new depths, there is an RC submarine for everyone.
What’s the Big Deal?
The reason people notice radio-controlled submarines is their unique ability to immerse users in a completely unfamiliar underwater environment. This is different from most RC vehicles, because on land operators still clearly see the environment they are exploring with their own eyes. Underwater, users often need to rely completely on RC submarines with cameras to capture surroundings. Coupled with a plethora of advanced features, this provides a new and rare encounter beneath the water.
In addition to being equipped with cameras, certain submarines have taken the next logical step: RC submarines with torpedoes. This added functionality gives users another way to have fun beneath the waves, even competing with others for dominance (although I highly doubt it is recommended by manufacturers!). Though their destructive power may fall painfully short of their full-size inspirations, these cool RC submarines are still a crowd-pleaser.
How in the Deep Blue Sea!?
Technologies and methods vary, but the basic concept for most remote-controlled submarines is the same. With the use of electronic or gas-powered systems, the craft is propelled through the water, limited by the strength and type of signal. Differing greatly from one situation to the next, radio signals are highly dependent on the medium they must travel through. This means salt-water or high mineral content, as well as chemicals like chlorine, greatly impede the ability to dive deeper.
Another limit on RC submarines is pressure. As a vessel travels deeper, it is subjected to higher amounts of pressure. This makes the importance of materials used to construct the submarine important for deeper dives. Because of these limitations, expect most subs to be able to travel from depths of .5 meters up to 5 meters in fresh water.
This is more than adequate for most, since it is also wise not to take your submarine deeper than where you can still see it. Some enthusiasts, however, have achieved depths of 10 meters plus using radio signal, but it requires the right modifications and know-how.
The available options for RC submarines is endless, so here are a few successful products to help narrow your search. We have rated these on a variety of factors, including price, function, quality, and customer reviews.
This first pick is based on the most affordable option with the best overall customer experiences. As a small, inexpensive product it makes a great gift for kids. Also, if you are trying to “test the waters” without breaking the budget, try this little guy out.
- Very affordable, coming in at less than $30!
- Great for kids or beginners
- Easy to learn and intuitive controls
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- Very basic. Lacking “bells and whistles” of more expensive options
- Relatively short depth range, 3 feet in freshwater
- Battery life limited to between 20-30 minutes
- Some buyers experienced quality issues, requiring return/exchange for functional units
Our second pick comes with a quite a bit more functionality and quality, but still at a reasonable price. Equipped with a camera, LED lights, and special “feeder arm,” it takes you from just dabbling in the world of RC submarines to enjoying some great experiences with these key features.
- Built-in camera with ability to take quality photos and videos
- 256 Mb onboard memory, and file transfer capability
- “Feeder” arm that holds food, ideal for fish tank use and close-up shots!
- Bright spot lights for use in dark environments
- If battery power runs low, submarine automatically surfaces for easy retrieval
- Uses infrared control instead of radio-control, which can limit use when sub is blocked by obstacles (i.e. rocks, objects, etc.)
- Requires standard AA batteries, not included
- Medium operational range, approximately 5 feet in fresh water
Our last option focuses on the best of the best, when money is no object! A true total package, the Power Vision PowerRay leaves little to be desired, even coming with a virtual reality headset and built-in compatibility with an app for phones.
- 4K UHD camera with 1080p live-streaming capability. 12 MP photos
- 64 GB removable memory card
- Comes with complete cleaning kit, including brush, micro-fiber cloth, cleaning fluid, etc.
- Durable carry case for easy transport
- Capable of deep dives up to 98’ with included 210’ “tether”
- MASSIVE price tag, coming in at almost $1,900!
- Does not shoot torpedoes (bummer, I know!)
- Tether that allows for deep dives means it is not fully “wireless”
When it comes down to it, the commonly used phrase holds true: you get what you pay for. The type of submarine that you purchase ultimately comes down to what you expect to get out of your machine. As a fun hobby and enjoyable time below the water, the more affordable options are perfect!
As you can see, however, the granddaddy of all subs also comes at a granddaddy of a price. But, in the end, it is hard to argue with the extreme capabilities of the more expensive option. It is up to you to decide what you want to be able to do and how much you are willing to spend. Once you have made up your mind, get out there and explore new worlds!