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Growing The RC Submarine Hobby

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  • Growing The RC Submarine Hobby

    I have been watching yesterdays Dive Tribe Meeting as I was unable to participate. I have for the past few months debating in my mind whether to share a few ideas about growing this hobby.
    I totally agree with developing an entry level under $1000 Sub. In my opinion I feel this Sub needs to be a scale that can be run in a pool. Many people have pools. Guys like to show off their toys. What better way to do so and to entertain then running a submarine that is not only driveable like a boat, but can dive, have navigation lights and just look cool!
    keep in mind the younger generation who wants it now, does not want to invest many hours of hard work not knowing if it will even work. Also, many people don’t want to travel to a location to run their boat, they want to walk to their pool and play. My background involved planes which bored me, I prefered scale planes, helicopters which were a pain and difficult to fly and drones. I retired from helicopters due to the short run times and having to drive to my local club airfield. I chose drones due to longer flight time and stability.
    These submarines offer ease of use, long run times and are scale.
    Another thing to consider is that the FAA is in the process of making it very difficult to fly drones legally.
    So in summary, a under $1000 Sub which will run in an average size pool or pond, very little assembly, incudes a Tx, charger etc., just enough to craete an appetite for what one can imagine in the future.

  • #2
    i don't know about other countries but here in the UK there is a chasm opened up in practical skill sets for those under forty. It didn't happen overnight, and shouldn't have come as any surprise, sustained deindustrialisation from the late 1970's onwards resulted in schools abandoning teaching of craft based subjects, and a focus towards teaching design instead.

    This has resulted in generations of younger people without practical skills unless they have a parent or close relative or family friend to pass on skills, and that directly affects hobbies like modelmaking. There are some who have learnt the skills in the under forty something bracket, but they're pretty rare.

    IMO ready to run models won't preserve or grow the hobby- it's just playing with a toy. Relatively inexpensive model submarine kits are available and have been for some years. The availability of large scale injection moulded kits hugely trimmed the cost of a model submarine, and electronics batteries and motors are much cheaper in real terms than they used to be. I couldn't afford anything more than a basic 2-channel radio set until I reached working age, so subs weren't on the agenda

    Perhaps if organisations had worked a little harder twenty years ago to attract younger members, the demographic would look a little different. Even assuming you could hook some younger modellers, few experienced in the hobby really want to be teachers, and many lack the temperament for it anyway.
    Last edited by Subculture; 03-15-2021, 05:33 AM.
    DIVE IN! Go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!


    • #3
      and... that's the name of that tune.

      Resident Luddite


      • #4
        The way to attract new blood to the RC hobby-be it surface, subsurface, air or road is not to get youngsters started in it. Its to plant the seed while they're young-that's how I started. I saw a sterling Chris Craft RC boat running at the NY Boat show in 1964 and I always wanted one then in 1982 or so I went to the Huntington Nautical festival and saw some real model subs.. then life happened, marriage, house, kids, job kids college -and finally when there was disposable income ..I pursued what I saw and now could afford! -Hell kids cant afford these things and a manufacturer cant afford to make them affordable to kids -but they're looking and someday they will jump in. The best thing we can do is show them running -be out there in the blogs and model mags and at the ponds-When others are there. Yes I know, many like to be uninterrupted while running their subs (unless other submariners are there)- we must share the hobby with anyone who will watch and listen
        -plant that seed-BG


        • #5
          I have been reading the comments in this thread with much interest as it’s a question that I ask myself often. Being an RC Submariner and also a high school teacher has given me an insight into both worlds and given me some perspective on the generations coming through and their approach to being hands on with technology. In Australia, when you mention the word ‘technology’, kids almost exclusively think it means, computers and phones. Nothing else. These devices give instant feedback and are thus a contributing factor to the slow and gradual reduction in focus and attention spans. I sometimes show my students a model sub and the first question is, ‘where did you buy it? Followed by ‘You made, that?!’ Followed by ‘that’s nice, what’s next?

          So we can’t compete with social media, online gaming, footy and other sports. Our pursuits take serious time ( can’t easily fit on the TV time slot that would otherwise be taken by Legomasters) and only a very very small number have the long term staying power to stay. The biggest thing I tell students and parents at course information night at school for the various years, is, to do well in Industrail Arts, you have to love problem solving. Some kids are good at it a lot ain’t. Our senior students in year 11 and 12 produce a nice piece of furniture, mostly desks and fancy bookshelves for their major works, nothing mechanical. The Australian Government has instigated a program that has been running for many years called ‘subs in schools’ to get teams of schools and student building model subs, ( I think it’s a long term attempt to build up the skilled workers in the Australian Defence industries) I have emailed that many people to discuss my interest and only get lukewarm response. They have consulted industry and the Navy is on board but why they did’nt even try to find out hobbyists and get us engaged is beyond me. It’s a great initiative, but it seems like they aren’t interested in talking to us..

          We get zero publicity in the mainstream media (well, here in Australia we don’t) and even in the exceptionally rare moments we do, it is slanted in a way to make us look like silly little nerdy people and their toys. No respect for the enormous amount of technical achievement and talent that has gone into something amazing. Rc models are not seen as a creative pursuit. We don’t dance, sing, act, paint or cook. So we get no share of the media time to influence and put forward our pursuit. We all know that most people have no idea this hobby even exists. I do get really annoyed when people just don’t respect the work and effort that goes into these things. But they will fixate on some singer, who has written another song that sound just like ever other. We are craftsman, and I am proud of this thing we do.

          It is hard to know the angle to attack this problem but I am convinced it needs to be multifaceted and a deliberate long term strategy. It will also take a culture shift and realistically that takes decades. Coupled with the fact that what we do is hard. It isn’t for everyone. There is a saying I think of when engaged with something that interests me, ‘Easy to do, difficult to master’. Well, subs ain’t easy to do and they are difficult to master, but there is the appeal.

          Development of an easy sub design is one avenue, but cannot be a strategy on its own. Developing such a kit is elusive as it would inevitably involve the skills of the end user. In my computer subject I teach robots at two levels. I used LEGO ‘ mindstorms’ which are highly prescriptive kits and you simply follow instructions to make a working robot. Everything is in the box and I the instructions are really clear. There is no flexibility in the design and it is very rigid. They are great for beginners.

          I also teach students how to use Arduino. ( this is a micro controller where you plug in what you want). This is scratch built robotics from the ground up, where you buy what you need and find a way to put it together. There is a lot of problem solving but infinite options and flexibility whilst you are forced to learn more. To produce a sub based on the LEGO philosophy requires an enormous amount of engineering and development at the manufacturers end. To make a sub simple to use it would have to be complicated. But at the same time you want the user to learn. There is no avoiding this if we want long term staying from our new recruits. Certainly enough to fix it. I think I am safe in saying that not even the best RC sub kits on the market( I ain’t talking pool toys) don’t quite have LEGO level of completeness. Correct me if I am wrong. ( I think being able to run them in a pool is the right idea, convenience) we more err towards the Arduino end of the completeness factor.

          So, for a beginner, we have to ask ourselves, how much do we want them to learn from the build and run experience of a ‘Lego’ type boat? How much experience and learned knowledge will be be enough to hook them? How much will be enough to propel them confidently to bigger things?

          I think that a book like what Bob is producing sounds like a good way of getting info out there. I know that when I started I did’nt know where to start. I read Norbert Bruggen’s model sub technology and it nearly turned me off as I ain’t good at the maths. ( it is a good book but I know it scares Newbies).

          As you can see, I think a lot about this. Being an Industrail arts teacher, I tell my kids that if they don’t get creative with this stuff now and master it ( robotics is a good example) they they will be replaced by it and it will be run by some 10 year old kid in China who has already built it and on his way to his first million. It’s bad enough we have given up our manufacturing here.

          David H


          • #6
            Young children have to be supervised, so to go along to shows and other events, that requires the interest and action of a parent or some other guardian. In a lot of instances, that is what is missing these days.

            Having said that, just because a parent is interested in something, it doesn't automatically follow that a child will be. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but generally some traits will be passed on but not always in the same form.

            So for example, my Dad has always been interested in modelmaking and took me along to shows and events as a kid, and that no doubt fostered an interest in the hobby. However I took an interest in different sectors of the hobby to my Dad, because I'm a mix of both parents plus external influences.
            DIVE IN! Go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!


            • #7
              Watching this thread with interest, both as a modeler, as a vendor, and as the President of SC...

              Keep the discussion going, guys!



              • #8
                The old saying! "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" This statement really holds true with our hobby (RC submarine building) We can spread the information to all! But there has to also be a desire to get involved with RC submarines!

                I have tried to get my old flying buddies involved, poo pooed is the word! We can just do our best to get people involved!

                "Firemen can stand the heat"


                • #9
                  This discussion is like shampoo directions....rinse, lather, repeat. Been hearing it forever.

                  It's been going on as long as humans have socialized, Either 4M or 8k years depending what camp you're in.

                  I agree with Rob. I liken it to what I heard in Bootcamp..."You wanna be a Bubbleheads? Not for me!!"

                  People will only do what they want to. We can only do what we do our boats, run often and in crowds.

                  You want exposure? Take Your boat and go to EVERY running pond with people within a two hour drive.

                  Join as many boating clubs as you can.
                  v/r "Sub" Ed

                  Silent Service "Cold War" Veteran (The good years!)
                  NEVER underestimate the power of a Sailor who served aboard a submarine.


                  • #10
                    Ed, I chuckle at your shampoo reference. Accurate and funny. That does bring up a great point that you need to have a running submarine and not just talk about it, but go out and run it. In other words, practice what we preach.
                    If you can cut, drill, saw, hit things and swear a lot, you're well on the way to building a working model sub.


                    • #11
                      I take a totally different approach. Put a show together for model submariners, and make it available and known to those who have an interest either as participant or spectator.

                      I found that far more effective. It's work though, it takes time plus a bit of cash, but not much. You'll experience some disappointments and not everything will go to plan. Here in the UK I can fund a dozen events for the price of the tent hire at Carmel.

                      DIVE IN! Go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!


                      • #12
                        I guess if you look at how its working so far, its not! The hands off, let them come approach is leading to a very old group of people that will eventually die off and their skills with them. Without adapting to the youth this portion of the hobby will just get smaller. Maybe we need a RC simulator that then can translate into a working boat? But somehow incorporates tidepods and smiling cats :)


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by coryhenry View Post
                          I guess if you look at how its working so far, its not! The hands off, let them come approach is leading to a very old group of people that will eventually die off and their skills with them. Without adapting to the youth this portion of the hobby will just get smaller. Maybe we need a RC simulator that then can translate into a working boat? But somehow incorporates tidepods and smiling cats :)
                          This is how you 'adapt' to the current crop of youth:

                          1. give it to them NOW
                          2. give it to them FREE
                          3. make it simple to UNDERSTAND
                          4. insure that the product will bolster their self-esteem no matter how badly they **** it up
                          5. make it for them

                          Today's kids -- for the most part -- are self-important, brainless, brats, spoiled to the point where they demand immediate gratification, and possessing no mechanical skills.

                          Aldous Huxley, call you office.
                          Resident Luddite


                          • #14
                            People don't really change much in 30-40 years.Many blame modern methods of entertainment, computers etc. I think it's simply that most people fall in with what is easy entertainment, before computers, it was sport, reading, going down the boozer etc.

                            If I look at how things are here in the UK with regards the model submarine hobby, I think the organisations have struggled to find a purpose in an age where information can be easily shared without paying a subscription. I read somewhere that back in the early 20th century it took a hundred years for all the information in the World to double, today it takes twelve hours.
                            DIVE IN! Go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by He Who Shall Not Be Named View Post

                              Today's kids -- for the most part -- are self-important, brainless, brats, spoiled to the point where they demand immediate gratification, and possessing no mechanical skills.

                              Aldous Huxley, call you office.

                              I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on
                              the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless
                              beyond words.

                              When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of
                              elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of

                              --- Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.

                              The broken disco record of this argument is beginning to bore me. My grandparents said this, my parents said this, now WE say this. What an easy blame to focus on, the kids. Been going on since the 8th Century BC.

                              Really, I'm finding this whole argument absurd after all these years, same in every organization I was part of....Member recruitment.

                              Understating it always costs much more to get than to retain, in any organization, I would rather change the focus to....Member Retention. Make that a priority.

                              The day we truly realize this is a NICHE hobby, and focus on keeping those WHO DO COME, whether they're new OR an Elder statesmen. Again, by doing what we do, naturally, those that are interested WILL follow, naturally.

                              Stop this absurd focus on anyone under 40, I was in my late twenties BEFORE I could scrape enough to purchase my first hull. A newborn daughter, focusing on Mortgage and Family (post get drunk chase girls phase). But I did get in relatively early, another reason I'm called "Special" Ed.

                              The only reason I had started so "early" in this hobby I attribute directly to conversations I had with other crew members to while away the hours during "Vulcan Death watch" periods of BattleStations Missile on the USDAFISH. I was laughed at saying this hobby will one day be real with RC Boats having features like real subs.

                              Yeah, Dad was a hobbiest, but he WAS a Hobbiest, focused on the older balsa rib, paper, dope construction of models. I did get the bug. (For the record, my RC Sub Hobby was merely a novelty to him, never came to see one run.) Maybe he was a “bad” dad.

                              BUT you CAN'T make a hobbiest, or wish for them to appear. It's either there or it's not. You CAN'T make a Submarine Modeler, it's either there or not. So don't blame society, kids or Drones or loss of low frequency radios.

                              Cheese and crackers, I helped my son make his first boat at the age of 7! Today he is building a life with his family, and has other interests. Yes he enjoys this hobby, but not at the level I “wish” he was. Rich Koelbrecher Jr. is another example, but his dad moved on. The former 7 time “Bottom Gun” winner builds wooden kayaks now. Retention is key, newcomers may not flow in, but they'll see what we do

                              If SOMEONE WANTS to do this , they will.

                              What makes this hobby different from the rest, besides the obvious of sinking plastic with the hope it comes back? What's cool about it? With the exception of a few remarkable boats (Yes Bob, NAUTILUS) it’s not eye candy! Put a decked out Fleet boat next to a decked out Destroyer, what will the common man be drawn to after the initial wonder of one submerging will be drawn to? BE HONEST! (most here will check the biased wrong answer) Why are there so many Air Clubs, Boat clubs (tugs, military) than Sub Clubs, why are there perhaps 20k worldwide, perhaps 10K operational subs? Because people didn't raise their kids right? Because the Craftsmen are gone? Because NO one knows about RC Subs? Bush? O’Bama? Trump? Biden? Putin?....phhhhhhh.

                              It's the Engineering of it folks. It's the nerd that is drawn. Yep, face that fact you're a nerd and be one with it. I do. You have to want it. We are that select group that walks into the local hardware superstore (Lowes, Home Depot) and see’s submarine parts instead of the home improvement project, if that’s why we even went there.

                              Ray Mason did it 40 some odd years ago scratch building a NAUTILUS hull, and making it WORK (possibly the first such one). Not because of some club, or guru, because HE wanted it, period.

                              So the trick is to reach them by example, and stop worrying about it, and have fun. Regardless how we try it will always attract only a special few. Let's keep them and revel in our uniqueness.

                              As another example, the SCLI group partnered up with Empire State Model Mariners, right. Many times my boat swam with gorgeous tugs and surface craft. How many folks did we win over? ONE, the Commodore is building a boat. Maybe I’m the problem with my 2.5Ghz boat in swamp water Queens. 1/60+ members, what a score!!

                              To be really clear on my point: Place the focus on being happy, retaining those that play, and show how amazing we are when they come (as we do), ease off on all the absolutes. IE: Ghz Radio boats is not a sub, RCAB’s or Pistons is the way to go, YA gotta do this and not THAT as opposed to, you can try that but look at this first. Pull the lurkers from the shadows. Look I dig, it….don’t coddle them, but let them make a mistake or two, that’s how one learns! Those that really want it will stay. Above all, get out there and do what you do best, run. It will be seen, and those worthy will come. I got ONE.

                              After all this, I'm the first to admit I'm wrong and everything I just typed is horse$#*!, but let's review this argument next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.......
                              I honestly don't care whether I'm right or wrong, or opinions of this entry. I'm here for me, and will help in any way, any newcomer that shows up and ask's for it. BUT, I will not build it for them, I will point the way and let hem decide. If I get a new shipmate..YAY, if not, it sucks to be him.

                              And stop with the "getting the youth" argument. Sounds like we're pedophiles.
                              Last edited by QuarterMaster; 03-17-2021, 12:04 PM.
                              v/r "Sub" Ed

                              Silent Service "Cold War" Veteran (The good years!)
                              NEVER underestimate the power of a Sailor who served aboard a submarine.