team photo

Figure 1
project photo


Team 21

Team Members

Faculty Advisor

Jacob Boschert
Brendan Taylor

Dr. Chih-Jen Sung

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Underwater Data Transfer

The purpose of the collective project is to develop an underwater wireless communication transmitter to fit inside a UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) for General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB). GDEB has established standards of excellence in the design, construction and lifecycle support of submarines for the U.S. Navy. The system will transfer data over a distance of at least 30 feet, with a rate of at least 100 kbps, with no packet loss during the transfer. The system must operate under a maximum current of 3 Amps and exposed terminal voltage of 30 VDC. The ambient temperature range is 0°C to 36.6°C and the system must operate at a temperature within 10°C of the ambient. This project documents the research and design of a waterproof housing unit for the communication system with heat transfer capabilities that keep the system within its operating temperature.

The housing unit for the transmitter inside the UUV is sealed with 2 O-rings to easily access the electronics while keeping it waterproof. With the communication system inside, the housing unit fits inside the “Riptide” UUV completely. The entire system withstands the same depths as the UUV, of 200 meters, while protecting the electronics in the event of cracks or leaks in the UUV. The initial thermal and stress simulations of the housing unit alone determined the material Acetal best suited the requirements of the housing unit design. Acetal kept the interior of the housing unit within 10°C of the ambient temperature and provided the strongest design against stress due to water pressure. Further analysis of the completed communications system, housing unit, and UUV determined the Acetal solution kept the communication system within 7°C of the ambient temperature and provided a 5 times safety factor at 200 meters. This design is 3D printed to showcase compatibility with the underwater data transfer communication system.