Simple Propulsion For The Lazy Paddle Boarder

One of the downsides to healthy outdoor activities is all the exercise. Who would want to do that if you can build something to do the hard work for you? That seems to be the theme of [Bitluni]’s latest build, a simple (and hacky) propulsion system for a stand-up paddleboard.

After acquiring an inflatable stand-up paddleboard and trying it out a few times, [Bitluni] decided to skip the “stand up” and “paddle” parts. He designed and printed a very simple propeller, which he intended to power with a brushless motor and speed controller. In the process of drilling out the prop to fit the shaft, he realized he was overcomplicating things. So he decided to just use his battery-powered drill instead. For the shaft tube, he modified an old crutch by drilling a hole in the handle for the shaft and adding a duct with a bearing on the other end. He also attached a carabiner to the handle to fix it to the paddleboard.

A test at a lake showed that the propulsion system performed relatively well for a proof of concept but had some flaws. To submerge it properly, [Bitluni] had to sit on the rear of the paddleboard facing backward. If it was too close to the surface, it would suck air and lose thrust, or spray him and his drill with water. Of course, there is also the real risk of drowning his drill in the process.

Projects don’t need to be complex to be enjoyable, and you can often learn more by quickly creating a proof of concept instead of taking forever to come up with the “perfect” design.

If you want to see some more advanced water-borne projects, check out the waterjet-powered electric surfboards built by [RCLifeOn] and [Andrew W].

14 thoughts on “Simple Propulsion For The Lazy Paddle Boarder

  1. Battery powered drill and water typically do not get along. Though you could probably make an IP67 rated, battery powered drill if you really wanted to.

  2. This propeller-at-the-end-of-a-motor-shaft contraption reminds me of the Bangkok river boat chase in the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. It’s in YouTube.

  3. Doing this can change your paddle board into a watercraft that you have to license and register depending on the state. Its like putting a trolling motor on a canoe.

    1. Yah, don’t guess, check, State and provincial regulations are all over the place, and you may need to register in your state to be in compliance as a visitor in another state even if your state doesn’t require it until 16ft or 10HP or one or the other or both.

      1. And oh yah, sticking a motor on anything that floats takes you from human powered craft regs to powered craft regs as far as Coast Guard is concerned, no just showing a flashlight after dusk, need red green and white nav lights, you have some slightly different navigation rules on priority, and may need extra safety equipment.

    2. Got a kayak, loaded our scuba gear on it and paddled about 300 yards off the beach to get some lobsters. We new it was a long way back to shore after emptying a full tank of dry air into our lungs, so we planned on using 2 cordless drills with props at the end of a long shaft to help us propel it back to shore. We even brought a bunch of extra batteries.

      On the way back a guard guard boat approached us and ripped us both a new a*s each because at that point, the kayak that we were also still paddling, was considered a motor powered vessel.

      Good thing we ended up using the cordless drills too, because the original idea was to use a gas powered weed wacker with a prop in place of the filament at the end of the shaft. That would have resulted in a fine for sure.

    1. Not just noisy but 0% thrust. Most stirrers I’ve seen lift off the bottom and suck down from the top to the middle mixing zone. A pliers will fix the pitch direction and thrust. It ain’t paint here, splash as much as you want. Use the bent shaft from a gas powered weed wacker for shallow water without angle where both props can run inline.

      Jet power much better, no choppy things.

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