Radio Controlled Boating

(click to go to Crabby boat progress)

As much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Just about anything that moves or flies is remote controlled. They go fast, go high or just scaled to the real thing. Cars can be fun, they sure go fast! Planes are great but they have a tendancy to crash. Boats are my choice. As long as a row boat or a fellow boater is handy they seldom get stranded. All one needs is a pond or a small lake and you are good to go.

Of course you need a boat. You can build one two ways. All from wood, just like the real thing, or cheat and use a pre-made plastic hull. I prefer the latter. Complete boats are also available. Just depends on your preference, some like the building, some like detailing and some just want to cruise. For the wilder ones there are racing boats that go like He#$ on the water. Me, I prefer the slower scale product. One can even find a good used boat almost ready to sail.

The electronics are literally out of this world. Old equipment used one or two channels in low frequency radio bands. They were good for the time, but all modelers have stories of accidents due to another radio taking control of the model. As well they were huge. Note the size difference with the old single channel system and a comparable digital modern system. Old single channel system on left, new style 6 channel system on the right (all bordered images are clickable for larger view, close picture to return here).

Now to clarify for non modelers, the number of channels equals the number of functions that can be controlled. For a plane minimum channels are throttle, rudder, and elevator. Options are retractable landing gear, guns, you name it. Each function needs a channel. Proportional means that the functions are variable from off to full and all positions in between.

Transmitters have controls for all channels. One at left is 5 channels. Frequency is beyond interferance and digital technology makes sure each model is private and cannot be interfered with by other transmitters.




Then we need the boat. This type models what is refered to as a "Pilot House Cruiser" and at 26" scales out to about 52 feet. Only 2 channels are needed for control. One for the motors (two of them), the other for the rudder. However other channels are available for "gadgets".

Electronics are mounted on a platform or "bed" which is removable for repairs and adjustments. Picture shows assembly in progress. Wiring has to be installed for motor control, then it is ready to sail.

So far that is about it for the boat. However not shown is the support equipment and tools. For simple projects small hand tools are adequate. Fittings and couplers are available off shelf to mate things up. The ability to solder is essential for a builder. A jeweler's screwdriver set is essential along with any small hand tools. The smaller they are the better your project will be. If you really want to get into making fittings and couplers (usually available for under $5 each) you need more expensive tools to get the job done. You don't need it, but it is fun to have it, and you know the phrase about "Boys Toys".

Progress reporting on the "Crabbyboat".

February 17, 2012 - Motor coupling adapters machined and mounted

February 19, 2012 - Engines mounted on controller platform and wired.

February 21, 2012 - Repainted and mounted on transport cradle

February 23, 2012 - Trim done, ready to sail







March 18, 2012 - First cruise of the year

No pictures, hiding the evidence. Should have checked the props, they are counter rotating. Wired the motors in parallel. Boat sure carved turns real good...

April 14, 2012 - On the water

Harrison Lighthouse

Running good, bit of trouble with right turns. Figured it might be motor speed problem but found port engine slipping. Too much weight, won't plane. But it ran..






April 18, 2012 - Navigation lights







It is now night legal. Navigation lights function and are controlled by RC. Not lighting interior till I get curtains up (yea, as if that will ever happen, no women on board...)

April 27, 2012 - Sailing in a real boat pond

Glen Newmeyer was gratious to invite the club to play in his pond. Everyone got to run a boat, including the dog. Some hobbiests build model railway layouts in their basement. Glen has devoted his back yard into a model boat pond.


Crabby boat got her chance to play. Found one cure for the lack of response to the rudder. She should actually have two rudders, but for the time an increase in the single rudder size seems to make her more responsive. She ain't no tug boat for performance but behaving like a wet sponge in the water is not my idea of fun. So, the rudder surface has been enlarged. Next cruise will tell now.

Boat get togethers are a great source of information. Hint suggested was to use the motor from a servo as a low RPM drive. So I took a Futuba servo apart. Removed the wiper from the position sensor and Voila, a low speed reversing engine. Now to build a radar antenna and get it automated.

April 22, 2012 - Back to Harrison Pond

Added 1/2" to the rudder. Also added a few more ounces of lead to the stern half. Just to trim it up. Boat runs great. However, I now find out that if I push it and do a lot of high speed showing off the motors get really hot (6 volt motors, 7.2 volt battery). Hate to put in a cooling system as they are going to be replaced this next winter.




May, 2012

Got a new project. Got the identical boat to Crabby 1, guess it will be Crabby 2. Have to motorize and control it. It has been built as a display model.






June 10, 2012

Put a camera on the boat. Click for Youtube video from Harrison Pond. Ignore the date, it's a cheap camera.

Sept 20, 2012

All the electricals are in for the new boat. Been a good summer boating this year. New boat will be the same as the old boat, hopefully just a little better from a running standpoint.






Last updated August 20, 2012 2:29 PM ©