Linear Actuators and Submarine Simulation

Another interesting and creative use of linear actuators and mini actuators was discovered by team 1.21 Jigawatts of Red Bull Creation. “The Hunt for Red September”, as it is called, is a submarine simulation game relying on both mini actuators and heavy duty actuators for the user experience.

A set of micro-controllers courtesy of the fine folks at Arduino simulate attacks on this actuator assisted submarine simulator. Impressively, this simulator has the full scale and likeness of a submarine. Levers, valves, and switches electronically linked to actuators repair threats to the submarine. These threats include spikes in pressure, rapture of the hull, radiation, temperature spikes, or even torpedo attacks. A linear actuator simulates specific jolts or events in these emergencies; heavy duty actuators removed from an old hospital bed rock the submarine, for instance. Mini actuators are used in the control systems that allow the ship to respond to users.

Actuators and electronics are brought together in this particular game package. For instance, depth charges and torpedoes can be sent via Twitter users. These tweets are processed by the Arduino micro-controllers and the commands carried out by either the main linear actuator directly underneath the submarine, one of many heavy duty actuators on the game, or by the additional linear actuators that provide multiple-axis motion for realism’s sake.

The submarine body’s was designed with CAD software and then constructed out of scrap materials with the aid of shop tools. Along with virtually every part on the game, each actuator was stripped or salvaged from discarded equipment. Recycling linear actuators and scrap metal has never been so fun!

The choice to use these actuator-based effects was a very wise one. Easily synchronized via micro-controllers, you can create a very authentic experience through this technology. Precision and control are what they are all about. The team’s innovation in recycling these devices for this game should be applauded.

The only piece that was not salvaged was the LED screen giving directions both onscreen and verbally. Warning of torpedo paths or mechanical issues, you must follow these directions quickly or risk losing your submarine! These commands seem pretty realistic. Not only does the interior look legitimate, actuators ensure that each torpedo strike feels like the real thing. There is also plenty of shuddering and vibrating at the hands of an actuator each time you push a button or close a valve.

While it seems like a fun illusion via linear actuator, there are some real consequences: players who fail to save the submarine in time are thoroughly drenched in water!

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