Amateur Chinese inventor seeks fame with scrap submarine

Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:32am EDT
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By Christina Hu and Mark Chisholm

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Amateur inventor Tao Xiangli scoured second-hand markets for two years in search of spare parts for more than just a broken appliance. He's built a home-made submarine he hopes will give him his big break.

The 34 year-old constructed his vessel after failing to find fame or fortune with creations such as the massaging hair-washer and an automated shoe-polisher.

Tao's submarine weighs 800 kgs (1,764 lb) and is 6.5 meters (21 feet) long, with a cramped interior that fits one person and features pressure gauges, monitoring cameras and, of course, an oxygen supply.

He has also installed headlights and is working on his own take on a periscope for the vessel, which he says can dive to depths of up to 10-metres.

The main body of the submarine is made out of simple metal barrels, one of his many ingenious economies that allowed him to keep his total budget to just 30,000 yuan ($4,400).

"A lot of the parts used in the submarine were purchased at the second-hand market. Parts that you could not find anywhere else are available at this market. It is also cheaper," he said.

But it hasn't been easy.

The lack of a government department that grants submarine licenses for individuals has prevented Tao from being able to legally use his invention.   Continued...

<p>Amateur inventor Tao Xiangli operates his homemade submarine in a lake on the outskirts of Beijing September 3, 2009. Tao, 34, made a fully functional submarine, which has a periscope, depth control tanks, electric motors, manometer, and two propellers, from old oil barrels and tools which he bought at a second-hand market. He took 2 years to invent and test the submarine which costs 30,000 yuan ($4,385). REUTERS/Christina Hu</p>