The University of British Columbia Human Powered Submarine Team (SUBC) is an engineering student team that designs, builds, and races human powered submarines. Founded in 1989 by a small group of mechanical engineering students, SUBC is UBC’s longest lived engineering design team. The team was created to participate in the second International Submarine Races (ISR2), and has since had many successes with both one and two-person submarines. Most recently, the team placed in the top 5 for our design at our first-ever European competition (eISR3). Now, SUBC is working to prepare for ISR14 this June, where they will be racing against over 20 teams from all over the world.
This year, a reciprocating linear input motion was selected over the traditional bicylce crank input,
requiring a new gearbox and pedal system. We call this year's drivetrain redesign the rectifying
inverter gearbox. The gearset first uses sprag clutch bearings to rectify the reciprocating input
into a continuous output rotation. The second stage of the gearbox then transmits the power evenly
between two contra-rotating propeller shafts.
The team hopes to conduct future quantitative tests to compare different pedaling configurations, and will fixate on the most effective selection in the future.
To help make our pilot's life a little bit easier, we developed a fly-by-wire steering system.
The pilot uses a simple joystick to control the submarine's stern planes and rudders. Precision
control of the fins is possible using precision servo motors which couple to our co-axial steering
gimbals. The steering system is complete with a heads up display to provide the pilot with key
information, including submarine heading, speed, and depth.
Future iterations of this system will include an automated heading control option, using a combination sensor inputs to maintain course without pilot input.
The team competed in the 3rd European International Submarine Races (eISR3) in June 2016.
We flew to England for two weeks of racing, outreach, and adventure! It was our first ever European
competition, and our first time racing with our submarine, Skookumchuck Mk. II. We were able to
highlight our design efforts and share our ideas with students and industry professionals
from around the world. Despite race day setbacks, including a faulty steering system and a
lack of racing experience, our team placed 7th overall and 5th for design!
Now we are looking forward to another summer of excitement as we prepare for the June, 2017 International Submarine Races in Bethesda, Maryland.