SV Seeker is a home-made boat currently being built by [Doug Jackson] just north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s a bit different than what you might imagine as a typical DIY boat, though. You see, Seeker is a 75 ft steel boat, intended to work as a research vessel. Doug and his crew proudly refer to Seeker as “The boat the internet built”, and he’s our kind of people. We’ve covered them before, the first time way back in 2013. Doug’s Youtube channel does double duty, both teaching the rest of us all the skills he’s learned while building, and also serving as the eventual user and repair manual for the boat.
Building such a big project, and none of it contracted out, has presented its own challenges. Today’s topic is batteries. Even with a diesel power plant, and a couple generators on board, a boat like this has to have a battery bank for daily operations. They have a reverse osmosis water maker to make fresh water, 120 and 240 volt power, and several other systems that all run off their battery bank. The first iteration of the design was to re-use a set of Edison batteries, AKA nickel-iron batteries. Those didn’t work out, so they’ve decided to bite the bullet and go with Lithium-ion. Just buying a pre-built kit is anathema to their maker ethos, not to mention the project’s minuscule budget, so they’re improvising. The idea is to collect a boatload of old 18650 cells, found commonly in the battery packs for laptops and cordless tools. When those packs die, it’s commonly just a single cell that has gone bad, meaning that an enterprising hacker can harvest the good cells for another project.
I anticipate seeing a video on the making of the big battery bank in another couple months, but until then think about sending some old lithium-ion packs their way. Better hurry though, because Seeker is scheduled to launch from the Tulsa Port of Catoosa on August 21st. If you have a battery or five to donate the effort, mail them to:
941 West I35 Frontage Road Ste. 116 #540
Edmond, OK 73034
Include a return address, and you even get a keychain made from the steel offcuts sent back to you.