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Make: Projects

Soda Bottle Submarine

Make a simple, self-propelled submarine out of soda bottles and other household items.

Soda Bottle Submarine


Step #1: Assemble the submarine interior.

Soda Bottle Submarine
  • Drill a hole in the bottom of your bottle.
  • Using chopsticks, feed a paper clip through.
  • Hook paper clip into second hole for stability.
  • Use chopsticks to hook the rubber band to the paper clip.

Step #2:

Soda Bottle Submarine
  • Connect ruler stabilizer fins with 2 rubber bands.
  • NOTE: Why you need stabilizer fins: Without fins, prop and bottle both spin in opposite directions. With stabilizing fins, the prop spins and the bottle moves forward.

Step #3: Make the propeller.

Soda Bottle Submarine
  • Crush, then cut a bottle in half.
  • Trim around the bottom, and cut through the middle of each high and low point.
  • Drill a hole in the bottle cap.
  • Straighten paper clip, and feed through bottle cap then through propeller's center hole. Bend a hook into second hole.
  • Attach loose end of rubber band to paper clip hook.

Step #4: Experiment with buoyancy.

Soda Bottle Submarine
  • With lots of air inside, the sub has positive buoyancy and will rise under water or float on top.
  • With just enough air inside, the sub has neutral buoyancy and will stay level under water.
  • With little or no air inside, the sub has negative buoyancy and will sink under water.


This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 10.