Thank you for your inquiry about the exciting MiniSub SSRV. I believe you will find this personal submersible to be truly unique. It's Innovative, economical to operate, has excellent performance and safety characteristics, and offers real utility as a sport touring vessel, or as a principal component in a lucrative business opportunity. By taking the all important first step of obtaining this information package, you are already well on your way to owning or operating your very own personal MiniSub SSRV (Miniature Submarine - Shallow Submergence Recreational Vehicle).
Over the next few pages we will let you know about our company, and our products, especially the MiniSub SSRV. Then we will go through the option of purchasing your own completed MiniSub, or assembling one from an easily completed kit. By the time we are done, you should have all the information you need.
If you are viewing this on the web, congratulations! Your forward thinking has saved you normal $9.95 we charge to send this document via the Snail mail system. You may wish to print out this document for easy referance. This will give you the ability to make notes and write down your questions as you review this material. Once you have reviewed the information, please don't hesitate to call or fax us with your questions. If you have Internet access, you can visit our site on the World Wide Web @ http://www.iesonline.cc or you can Email us, our address is firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks again for your interest in our products, and we hope that we can help you satisfy your "Need For Adventure" with a MiniSub SSRV.
After years of experience in the Scuba industry, we were looking for a greater challenge. Diving from the shore was fun, but required a great deal of effort to carry all the required scuba and support gear from our vehicle to the dive site. Most of the good dive sites were either crowded, or having been used extensively they lost their appeal. The more challenging sites required long surface swims, which left us almost to exhausted to enjoy the dive. Boat diving was better, in that we could load all of our gear in one place, motor out to the dive site, and complete our dives in relative comfort. But we knew that there were many exciting things to see, that we simply drifted over, oblivious to their presence. Our quest for adventure caused us to experiment with many types of underwater vessels. Most were either towed by a boat operating on the surface, or were self propelled. The common thread to all of them was that they required the operator to wear a complete set of scuba gear while they performed their underwater exploration. Eventually the need to share our experience with non-diving friends caused us to seek out a better solution.
At that time a Canadian company, International Venturecraft, was producing a vessel called the Sport Sub. A small 2 person minisub operating on the principal of a motorized diving bell. This was a truly unique vessel, and after experiencing a dive in this vessel we realized that it met many of the needs that we envisioned. It was from this vessel that the MiniSub SSRV was developed. After conducting a rather extensive survey of the marketplace, we determined that there was the potential to generate significant revenue through commercial operations using a vessel of this type. One of the principal drawbacks was a requirement from the shipping and commerce act that any vessel used in the United States for commercial operations be manufactured in this country. Since there were no companies producing hulls in this country this meant that we either had to manufacture our own, or do without. Since we operated a full service manufacturing facility with expertise in manufacturing composite and structural products we decided to produce our own hulls.
This gave us the opportunity to refine an already well respected product. We did this by building a slightly larger hull that was more suited to carrying 2 or 3 large adults. The internal volume has in fact been tested on one of our many media appearances when an underwater photographer in full scuba gear surfaced inside the hull with 3 large adult passengers, and proceded to shoot some video footage.
To improve on the structural integrity, we chose to use the highest quality materials, and build a unitized hull, constructed in one piece. This method of construction allows us to produce a hull that is virtually completed when it comes out of the mold. Unlike some kits that require you to laminate fiberglass components together and then paint them to obtain an attractive finish, our hulls have the color built into them. We can manufacture a hull in virtually any color available, but we use the colored pigment to tint the exterior layer of gelcoat on our MiniSub SSRV so that the color is built in, not sprayed on.
The color is actually about 3/32" thick, so that if you should manage to scratch the surface, you can simply buff the scratch away, and the color and surface of your sub would be unharmed. Should you choose to build your own sub our operate one that we have completed for you, we feel you should be able to enjoy the experience without worrying about extensive maintenance chores. For those who purchase completed subs from us, this means a lifetime of minimal maintenance yet still providing a very attractive looking vessel. Those who choose to build their own are spared the inconvenience and mess of working with fiberglass resins, and the associated dust. Even the need to paint the hulls has been eliminated, allowing the assembly of your own MiniSub SSRV in a very small workspace with minimal finishing skills required.
Nothing compares with the excitement of flying your sub around coral reefs, over a ship wreck, or around some rock outcroppings. You are in command of a submarine, in charge of its operation, the air system, buoyancy control system, depth, course heading and speed. You must make the correct decisions regarding bearing changes, depth changes and flow rates, to make sure your sub and its passengers are comfortable and safe. Piloting a submarine is truly exhilarating, and it is a thrill that very few people will ever experience.
If you are already a certified Scuba diver, you have probably wished that you could see more in a given dive, or share your underwater experience with others. Capable of speeds of up to 4 knots, the MiniSub SSRV allows you to effortlessly cover a significantly larger area than you could even dream of by swimming. The MiniSub SSRV is an ideal way to introduce others to this underwater environment. As a trained MiniSub pilot, you can carry up to 2 passengers along with you to share the experience. The visibility from the MiniSub SSRV is unparalleled. Provided with 9 separate windows, it's like looking at an aquarium, only you are inside it, and free to roam wherever you desire. Many people have successfully used the MiniSub SSRV to operate a commercial venture by selling submarine rides. When you consider that people are willing to pay $75 - $100 for a submarine ride, the potential to produce substantial revenue is apparent.
Entrepreneurs should be quick to recognize the income producing potential of a MiniSub SSRV. By placing a MiniSub SSRV at a good dive location or destination resort it is possible to do well in excess of 100 revenue producing dives per month. With an income of $150 or more (depending on the rates you choose to charge) per dive, it doesn't take long for the MiniSub SSRV to pay for itself. By purchasing a MiniSub and placing it in a commercial operation, you can also use the tax savings to help pay for your MiniSub SSRV. In fact, we are so confidant of the ability to make money with a MiniSub SSRV, that we have arranged a lease / purchase option for commercial operators at very competitive rates. If a tax benefit is what you need, We can even arrange leaseback opportunities if you desire. Contact us for details.
To some, the thrill is simply exploring the underwater environment by themselves, and having something that no one else has. As an attention getter, the MiniSub SSRV draws crowds wherever it goes. If you're looking for a truly unique way of attracting attention for advertising and promotions, a MiniSub is a sure fire way to attract the attention you desire. For Watersports Operators and Entrepreneurs who need something to sink the competition, the MiniSub SSRVs uniqueness and appeal will attract everyone, from your competitors customers to the TV, newspaper and magazine crews from the next town. The MiniSub SSRV gives you the opportunity to surface ahead of the rest, raise your profile, and increase your appeal and profit potential. We are routinely approached by the media to perform in front of their camera's. In fact you may have already seen one of our subs, since they have appeared on adventure and news stories that have appeared in print and on national TV many times.
MiniSubs can and are being used to aid in other operations as well. Currently, MiniSubs are being used for salvage, search and rescue, inspection and survey work, treasure hunting, and underwater and studio photography. MiniSubs can be custom configured to carry extra tanks and batteries to increase the range or provide additional power to run pneumatic tools and lights in support of untethered commercial dive operations, or as a means of transporting divers and their gear to the work site. If you feel you have a special need or requirement, feel free to contact us. Our design team can help develop a solution to your needs.
The MiniSub SSRV was designed to open the underwater world to "average" people. It was designed to be affordable for most people, easy to operate, maneuverable, be able to dive safely to any depths experienced by normal Scuba divers, have excellent all around visibility, and to look "sporty" but also like a submarine. Some specific things such as the ability to see downward out of the Sub so you could see the bottom, automatic control of buoyancy, an air-tight cockpit with a breathable air environment so you could breath and talk normally, Pressure balanced electrical passages with extensive sealing to ensure no water infiltrates the subs operations and propulsion systems, and guaranteed reliability; were all part of the list.
To meet the requirements of affordability and ease of maintenance, the MiniSub SSRV is an ambient pressure design. This means that the pressure inside the sub is the same as the water pressure outside the sub. With this design, no certified pressure hull is required because there is no danger of the hull collapsing as no differential pressure is being exerted on the hull by the water. This allows for the use of a fiberglass hull. This is extremely important to the long life, good looks, and easy maintenance of the MiniSub SSRV. By using a reinforced fiberglass hull, corrosion problems are virtually eliminated. In fact great care was taken to ensure that all components in the MiniSub are made with the most corrosion resistant products possible. Using Nylon, Acetyl Resins, and Delryn fittings allows friction free operation of the Subs controls, while requiring virtually no maintenance. Where extra strength was required in high stress areas, these fittings are made from either brass, aluminum or stainless steel. Should you desire to add accessories to the sub at a later date, requiring you to penetrate the hull, they can be easily incorporated since no expensive fittings are needed every time a hole is put through the hull. Being able to quickly adapt and inexpensively reconfigure the MiniSub SSRV for a wide range of missions is a valuable feature, since it allows you to react to unanticipated needs in your operation.
Since the MiniSub SSRV is designed to operate in a wide range of environments, many air supply systems were considered. The final decision was to utilize regular compressed air stored in Scuba tanks in easily accessible compartments. Scuba air fills are available almost anywhere you would like to take your MiniSub, and by carrying extra tanks you can easily exchange them when the subs air supply runs low. For commercial operators, the tanks can be easily removed and refilled at the completion of the dive. The MiniSub SSRV is normally supplied with an air capacity of 380 cubic feet. Optional larger tanks can increase this to 540 cubic feet (750 cubic feet in countries that allow 300 bar air fills). When situations require, extra air tanks can be carried either internally or on a rack mounted on the aft deck of the MiniSub. If a tender ship is available the MiniSub can also be easily configured to operate on an umbilical cord, receiving its air, power, and communications from the surface vessel. Experienced sport or commercial divers will recognize the fact that Nitrox tanks can be readily substituted and used in place of compressed air. This allows dramatically increased bottom times, and results in far less fatigue at the completion of an extended underwater dive.
Training to operate the MiniSub is straightforward, and simple. Instead of intense technical training you need only receive basic Scuba training and then be trained as a MiniSub pilot. PILOT TRAINING IS REQUIRED to safely operate the MiniSub SSRV. A comprehensive owners and operators manual is shipped with each MiniSub, however, training is required to ensure that you can safely operate your MiniSub through a wide range of normal and emergency conditions. All MiniSub SSRV operators MUST receive training, and sign an agreement stating that "No untrained or unauthorized persons will operate the MiniSub SSRV" prior to final delivery of their own submarine. Training can be provided at our location using one of our demonstrator MiniSub SSRVs or an instructor can accompany your sub and provide the training at your location when you purchase your own sub.
Another benefit of the MiniSub SSRV is the fact that it is light weight and compact. The result is a sub that can be towed on a trailer behind almost any car and launched from most any boat ramp, or carried to the dive site on the deck of a larger boat.
To understand the operational concept of the MiniSub SSRV, imagine pushing an inverted coffee cup underwater. A bubble of air is trapped inside the upside down cup. This air pocket provides lift, or "buoyancy". If the coffee cup wants to float to the surface, it is said to be positively buoyant. If you spill some air from the cup, it will not want to float, or sink , and it is then neutrally buoyant. If you spill to much air from the cup, it will want to sink, and it is then negatively buoyant. If you could adjust the cup so it was neutrally buoyant, and then push it underwater you would notice that the deeper you pushed it, the more negatively buoyant it would become. This is because as you go deeper the increasing water pressure squeezes the air inside the cup into a smaller space making it less buoyant.
The cockpit of the MiniSub SSRV traps air just like the coffee cup. In fact, the MiniSub SSRV requires almost 1200 pounds of floor mounted ballast to enable it to sink. (Just like a scuba diver requires lead weights to overcome the buoyancy of their exposure suits). This trapped air in the sub provides lift, or "buoyancy". This buoyancy can be adjusted over a range of up to 300 pounds to compensate for the differences in passengers size, and cargo that may be carried on any particular dive. Should this range not be enough, there is 200 pounds of trimmable lead ballast that can be removed from the sub, and of course, extra weights can be added. Probably the greatest problem experienced in both submarining and Scuba diving is achieving and maintaining neutral buoyancy. In order to easily achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy, the MiniSub SSRV uses an "electro-mechanical buoyancy control system, or EBC". At the start of a dive, the buoyancy control system is adjusted to obtain neutral buoyancy. When neutral buoyancy is reached, the MiniSub will not rise to the surface or sink to the bottom; it will stay at whatever depth you are at. This is the desired condition for MiniSub operation. As you descend the buoyancy control system automatically adds air to the cockpit to keep the sub neutrally buoyant. When in this condition the sub's motors are used to accurately direct the MiniSub up, down, forward, backwards and to turn left or right, or any combination of these. This is much easier and more accurate than using ballast tanks to control buoyancy which in turn cause ascent or descent. When you begin your ascent, the buoyancy control system automatically vents the expanding air to maintain neutral buoyancy, allowing a controlled ascent to the surface.
To fully understand the electromechanical buoyancy control system we need to briefly discuss "Boyle's law". Boyle's law states that the volume of a given quantity of gas varies inversely with pressure. Therefore, as pressure increases, the volume that a quantity of air takes up gets smaller. As an example, if you took a breath of air and held it, and if you could swim to 33 feet below sea level (2 atmospheres of pressure), the air in your lungs would decrease in size by ½. This decrease in air volume results in smaller lungs. The smaller your lungs are, the less space your body takes up. The result is that you become less buoyant and your body will experience a distinct downward pull. As you go deeper this pull would become stronger, because of the decreasing air volume in your lungs as a result of the increasing pressure as you descend.
Consider what would happen in an ambient pressure sub without any form of buoyancy control.....
As you can see, neither of these is a very good scenario. The solution is theoretically simple enough though. As the water pressure increases, add air at the same time so the volume of air in the cockpit stays consistent. The problem comes in controlling this. If you try to add the air manually, and don't add enough, you lose buoyancy and begin an uncontrolled descent. If you add too much, you become positively buoyant and begin and uncontrolled ascent (almost a dangerous as an uncontrolled descent). So in theory it is possible, but not at all reasonable in practice.
With the MiniSub SSRV and the EBC, the sub always maintains neutral buoyancy, and it does it automatically. All you need to do is remember to turn it on. When you begin to descend and the water pressure increases and tries to decrease the volume of the air in the cockpit, the EBC senses this and adds pressurized air to the cockpit to maintain the air volume required to give neutral buoyancy. When you ascend, the water pressure around you decreases and the air in the cockpit tries to expand. The EBC senses this as well and exhausts the correct amount of air, so again, there is no change in the volume or the buoyancy. Because of the EBC you can enjoy your submarine ride and leave the control of the buoyancy to the MiniSub. As a safety feature, the EBC has a provision allowing you to manually override its operation, and control it manually should the need arise.
The MiniSub SSRV also contains a forward and a rear ballast compartment These compartments can be independently flooded (reducing the size of the air bubble) or blown (increasing the size of the air bubble). These compartments are used to produce positive buoyancy when operating on the surface, or for use in an emergency situation to dramatically increase the lift of the sub to bring it to the surface.
The sub is open at the back below the water line, allowing you to exit or enter the sub easily, without the need for a lockout chamber. To get into the air pocket you swim forward into the opening in the back of the hull and then come up inside the sub in the air pocket. Once inside you and your passenger(s) sit on fold down seats. Because the air pressure inside the sub is the same as the water pressure outside, the water can't come up inside the cockpit (just like the air in the upside down cup keeps the water out of the cup while underwater even though the cup has an opening in the bottom).
The air environment inside the sub is a tested breathable atmosphere. The air quality is controlled by an air flow meter regulating a continuous flow of air entering the cockpit. As this air enters the cockpit it forces the old air out thereby controlling the amount of C02 in the cockpit. This ensures that the air in the sub is always suitable to breathe. Extensive verification testing has been done in a hyperbaric chamber with air gas content monitors.
The MiniSub is capable of maneuvering in 3 dimensions. Power is applied to two battery powered electric motors, mounted amidships, one on each side of the sub. The speed of each motor is controlled independently by two speed control levers in the dashboard. These motors normally propel the sub forward, but can be rotated as much as 90 degrees upward to propel the sub up or 90 degrees downward to propel the sub down. Turns are accomplished by speeding one motor up and slowing the other down. The sub can turn on the spot by putting one motor in full reverse and the other in full forward. The MiniSub maneuvers much like a helicopter except that it can not fly sideways. One of our favorite pastimes is shooting touch and goes on the top of submerged stumps in one of our local lakes. It is just like practicing pinnacle landings in a helicopter, but it happens in (relatively) slow motion. Piloting a MiniSub is a new and exciting experience. While a car operates in 2 dimensions, the sub operates in 3. This extra dimension takes a little getting used to, and definitely adds more than a little excitement. The top speed of 4 knots doesn't sound very fast to those of us used to driving down the highway at 55 mph, but remember that while doing 55 you can see a long way ahead of your vehicle. Just imagine operating an airplane or helicopter in a blizzard where the visibility is limited to 20 - 50 feet. Yes it would be exciting, but it would also be suicidal. When underwater, 4 knots is more than enough speed.
In the event you do have a problem the MiniSub SSRV has a number of safety backup systems....
For purposes of registration, most Countries consider the MiniSub SSRV to be a boat. We have found it much easier to obtain licensing and registration as a boat or marine vessel rather than a submarine; since beurocrats will be tempted to find evidence that they are not breaking new ground, and there are very few written regulations pertaining to the licensing of personal submarines. In the case of a kit sub it will be registered as a home built boat. If you plan to use your sub in the United States for what the United States Coast Guard (USCG) considers "Coastwise trade" (commercial use) you may want to consider the following regulations:
These requirements apply to operations in U.S. coastal or inland navigable waterways where marine vehicles (including the MiniSub SSRV) are operated for the carriage of passengers for commercial purposes (may be subject to change from time to time).
PILOT: Must have a valid USCG issued Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels license (mechanical power) authorized for operations in the same area as the MiniSub SSRV will be operated in. It does not require a submarine/submersible endorsement at this time. As this is the minimum requirement - a superior license may also be used.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:
State numbering of the MiniSub SSRV is required by most states. If numbering is required, ensure that the MiniSub SSRV is correctly numbered for intended use, i.e.: commercial, or carriage of passengers, as applicable.
MiniSub's must display placard with exemptions from the 33 CFR Subsection S (Boating Safety Standards) regulations which will exempt MiniSub vessels from stability, floatation and fire fighting equipment requirements. (Floatation standards obviously are not required for submarines, since they are designed to sink, and there is no foreseeable occasion where the use of a fire extinguishing agent inside the MiniSub SSRV would be a greater asset than a hindrance, an exemption, however, is still required from these regulations).
MiniSub SSRV cockpit emergency check list must be clearly displayed at all times.
If you will not be using your sub for coastwise trade this information does not apply to you, however, these requirements are still worth considering.
No one should operate a MiniSub SSRV without first receiving proper training. This is very important. The MiniSub SSRV is a life supporting submersible, and none of the built-in safety features will be of any use to you if you don't know how to use them!
Before obtaining your MiniSub SSRV pilot training, you should go to your local Dive shop and get trained as an open water Scuba diver. The MiniSub SSRV is built around basic Scuba diving principles and the sub pilot training assumes you are a Scuba diver and know and understand these principles. If you are unsure of a dive shop to obtain your training, please feel free to contact us for assistance. We can refer you to several reputable dive shops that are experienced in both Scuba Diving, and MiniSub operations. Once you have your Scuba training completed, please call our office and we will make the arrangements for your MiniSub SSRV pilot training.
HULL and COMPONENTS
OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT AVAILABLE
AIR SUPPLY SYSTEMS
SAFETY and BACKUP SYSTEMS
The MiniSub SSRV is shipped ready to dive as a turnkey component. The Standard equipped price including all normally installed equipment is $49,000.00 in U.S. Funds.
For qualified Companies or Individuals, component kits are available that allow you to build your own MiniSub SSRV. Complete kits including all the hardware, pre-assembled subassemblies, electronics and dive gear that we install in a standard equipped minisub sell for $28,950.00 in U.S. Funds. The average time to complete the assembly of these components into a working submarine is 125 hours. For those who would rather source out their own components, and utilize existing gear, we can provide a completed hull (dive plane components are included, but without motors installed), assembly manual, training manual, and list of component suppliers starting at $7450. If you wish to make the assembly of your own MiniSub a simple bolt together experience, we can install tow hooks, lifting eyes, grab rail brackets, and skid brackets at the time your hull is completed for a slight additional charge. We can supply a wide range of options for those choosing to assemble a MiniSub SSRV on a budget. Given the ability to scrounge for some parts (ie.using automotive wheel weights to cast your own ballast rather than buying lead bars) and using some scuba gear you already own, you should be able to complete the assembly of your MiniSub for around $12,000.
Leases, Lease to purchase and rental options are also available. Contact us for details.
All completed MiniSub SSRV's and / or parts and accessories are shipped F.O.B. Ridgefield, WA. U.S.A. Crating, freight, insurance, duties, and taxes are extra (if applicable).
Payment is to be made by Wire Transfer, Money Order, Bank Draft, or Certified Check (For parts, accessories or information packets we accept VISA, MASTERCARD, and DISCOVER card as well). All payments must be in U.S. dollars.
Information in this package is subject to change without notice.
Back to our MiniSub SSRV page
Back to our Home Page