Electric Airboat For Getting You Across Thin Ice

Even with all the technological progress civilization has made, weather and seasons still have a major impact on our lives. [John de Hosson] owns a cabin on an island in a Swedish lake, and reaching it involves crossing 500 m of water. In summer this is done with a conventional boat, and in winter they can simply walk across the thick ice, but neither of these is an option on thin ice in the spring or fall. To solve this [John] built an electric airboat, and it looks like a ton of fun in the video after the break

The construction is simple but functional. A 3.3 m flat-bottomed aluminum boat has used a base, and an aluminum frame was bolted on for the motor and propeller. The motor is an 18 kW brushless motor, with a 160 cm/63-inch carbon fiber propeller. Power comes via a 1000 A ESC from a 100V 3.7 kWh Lipo pack mounted in a plastic box. Steering is very similar to a normal airboat, with a pair of air rudders behind the propeller, controlled by a steering lever next to the driver’s seat. The throttle is an RC controller with the receiver wired to the ESC.

Performance is excellent, and it accelerates well on ice and slush, even with two people on board. [John] still plans to make several improvements, with a full safety cage around the propeller being at the top of the list. He is also concerned that it will capsize on the water with the narrow hull, so a wider hull is planned. [John] has already bought a large steering servo to allow full remote control for moving cargo, with the addition of an FPV system. We would also add an emergency kill switch and waterproofing for the electronics to the list of upgrades. It looks as though the battery box is already removable, which is perfect for getting it out of the cold when not in use.

Even the small scale are boats are a fun RC project which can be built from only junk bin parts, or you can go to the other extreme and add full autonomous navigation.

Thanks for the tip [Måns Almered]!

19 thoughts on “Electric Airboat For Getting You Across Thin Ice

      1. The belt might be moving at ’75kmh’, but you can see that when he hits land the speedo drops to ~45kmh. There’s not necessarily a good correlation between belt speed and actual speed when travelling on water.

  1. I’d keep the hull narrow as is. If capsizing is a concern, consider outriggers. The performance of this craft is primarily limited by its footprint and widening it will require more energy and slow it down. Small outriggers will reduce chances of capsizing while affecting the footprint very little.

    1. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as putting an IC motor of equivalent power up that high, electric should be a tad lighter. As long as the passengers stay low it should be alright. There might be some dynamic instability if the thrust line isn’t set carefully, this would be exacerbated by the throttle “tip in” of an electric being harsh if manipulated in an “on-off” manner.

  2. Looks like a washing machine motor to me…

    Does this thing have enough power to go from water up onto ice? How does it handle if the ice underneath it breaks? I also live in Sweden and have a cabin on an island. I need to know :)

  3. That’s awesome. But what would you do if it failed in the middle of the lake? Walking back on thin ice is not ok.

    I think I’d get a pair of oars and add some spikes to the ends. That way, if the ice is thin enough to paddle through you can do so. If not then you can grip the ice with the spikes and push off that way. It would probably be quite a bit of work using the spikes so just go to the nearest solid land and walk from there.

  4. I got a Very good upgrade for you to consider.

    I too helped build airboats before , gas powerd thought , but what you need to find is neoprean or propanathine plastic , simulat to snowmobile slider plastics thats on there suspension rails , but install them 1 on each rib running lengthwise on the boat nice and straite it will not only protect the boat from ware damage , but make it slide even better , and better speed . You will improove Effiency by No less than 40% , i promis you that ? Or will Pay for your troubles. I used to build scoots with my Late uncle , and was always flat bottom home made punt boats with a metal bottom , but for fun we took Snowmobile slider plastics and installed them that way trimmed to fit of coarce , worked so well that any existing builds got refitted and all new builds got that added to them.

    We saved 40% to 50% fuel with the plastics , and we gained about 40 mph , our 2 cylinder snowmobile motor airboats did 92.mph before the plastics , with the plastics a radar run on top speed we hit 137 mph on ice n slush.

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