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How to build a do-it-yourself submarine at the age of 18


In his spare time, when he isn’t doing his homework, eighteen-year-old Justin Beckerman is an inventor. His latest creation is a submarine: it cost him $2000 and it really works. It’s not a radio-controlled model craft, but a manoeuvrable, fully-functioning prototype for a single passenger. The young man comes from New Jersey (here is his website) and he built the vessel from waste materials. The name exemplifies the project: Nautilus.

As CNN reported, Justin has always had the makings of an inventor. At the age of 12, he transformed a radio-controlled car into a vacuum-cleaner. Cleaning the house effortlessly became a dream come true. But for the Nautilus project, things went rather differently. Like every maker worthy of respect, the eighteen-year-old had to build three other submarines before arriving at the final model.

Justin tested out his submarine by diving to a depth of up to10 metres in the waters of a lake near his home. The vessel can move at a speed of 1.5 mph for about 120 minutes, while oxygen is provided by a flexible air intake fitted with a float.

There are also some electronic components aboard Nautilus: such as loudspeakers taken from an old stereo system, batteries from a children’s car, a siren, strobe lights, a   respirator and an emergency pump.


Justin’s creative energy has something contagious about it, and it is not surprising that the media like to herald him as a prodigy. To tell the truth, his enterprising spirit and an ability to create something are not the only surprising characteristics of this young inventor. There’s something else as well.

Other young makers like Caine the nine-year-old boy who became a viral phenomenon with his amusement arcade in cardboard boxes – in fact do nothing more than give full rein to their imagination. The next step is to use your invention to change something in the world around you.

With regard to this last aspect, Justin already has some very clear ideas:


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