Hacking When It Counts: Setting Sail in a Submarine

By the early 20th century, naval warfare was undergoing drastic technological changes. Ships were getting better and faster engines and were being outfitted with wireless communications, while naval aviation was coming into its own. The most dramatic changes were taking place below the surface of the ocean, though, as brave men stuffed themselves into steel tubes designed to sink and, usually, surface, and to attack by stealth and cunning rather than brute force. The submarine was becoming a major part of the world’s navies, albeit a feared and hated one.

For as much animosity as there was between sailors of surface vessels and those that chose the life of a submariner, and for as vastly different as a battleship or cruiser seems from a submarine, they all had one thing in common: the battle against the sea. Sailors and their ships are always on their own dealing with forces that can swat them out of existence in an instant. As a result, mariners have a long history of doing whatever it takes to get back to shore safely — even if that means turning a submarine into a sailboat.

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3D Printed Catamaran eats Benchy’s Lunch

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that 3D printers are exceptionally well suited to printing little boats. According to the Internet, 3D printers are at their best when pumping out cute PLA boats in all the colors of the rainbow; perfect for collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. Ask not what your Benchy can do for you, ask what you can do your Benchy.

But this 3D printed boat isn’t so cute and cuddly. In fact, it’s an absolute beast. Built by [Wayne Andrews], this nearly meter long 3D printed racing catamaran looks more Batman than Popeye. In the video after the break you can see a recent run of the boat on the lake, and we think you’ll agree it definitely has the performance to back up its fierce looks.

Impressively, the hull isn’t printed out of some expensive high-tech filament. It’s the cheapest PLA [Wayne] could get his hands on, and glued together with nothing more exotic than Loctite Super Glue Gel. The secret is the internal “West System” fiberglass cloth and resin work, which is the same stuff used on real boat hulls. It took about 5 days of continuous printing to produce all the pieces needed to assemble the hull, which is a scaled up version of a design by [Thomas Simon].

The internal layout is about what you’d expect in a fast RC boat. It’s running on a 1900 Kv motor powered by dual 6S batteries and a water cooled 180 A Seaking ESC which provides 5 BHP to the Octura x452 propeller. On the business end of his boat, [Wayne] used a commercial aluminum strut and rudder unit. Running gear printed out of something strong like nylon would be an interesting experiment, but perhaps a tall order for this particular motor.

We recently covered a 3D printed jet boat that’s no slouch either, but if you’re looking for a more relaxed ride you could always 3D print a FPV lifeboat.

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Unmanned Sailboat Traverses The North Atlantic

Sailboats have been traversing the Atlantic Ocean since before 1592, sailing through sunshine, wind, and rain. The one thing that they’ve all had in common has been a captain to pilot the ship across this vast watery expanse, at least until now. A company called Offshore Sensing has sailed an unmanned vessel all the way from Canada to Ireland.

The ship, called the Sailbuoy, attempted the journey last year as well but only made it about halfway before the mission was abandoned. This year, however, the voyage was finally completed, and this craft is officially the first unmanned ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The journey took about 80 days using sails and a small set of solar panels to drive the control electronics.

Using this technology, the company can investigate wave activity in specific areas of the ocean without having to send out a manned vessel to install a permanent buoy. The sailbuoy simply uses its autonomy to stay in a particular patch of ocean. There have been other missions that the sailbuoy has been tasked with as well, such as investigating the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With a reliable craft like this, it becomes much easier, safer, and less expensive to explore the ocean’s surface.

Thanks to [Andy] for the tip!

RC Boat Goes Brushless For Speed & Reliability

Remote control boats can be great fun, and come in all manner of forms. There are unpowered sailcraft, speedboats that scream under the power of internal combustion, and of course, those that move under electric power. The brushless motor revolution of the past 20 years in particular has proven capable of creating some exciting RC watercraft, and [Matt K] decided he wanted to get on board.

[Matt] had owned a Kyosho Jetstream 1000 for several years, but found the nitro engine to be temperamental and not the most fun for high-jinx down at the lake. An old-school brushed motor setup with mechanical speed control similarly failed to excite. However, after experiencing the power of brushless in RC planes, [Matt] knew what he had to do.

Using an online calculator, [Matt] determined that his earlier nitro powerplant was putting out roughly 900 watts. When it came to going brushless, he decided to spec a Turnigy powerplant with twice as much power, along with the requisite speed controller. There was some work to do to integrate the new motor with the original propeller driveshaft and water cooling system, but in the end [Matt] ended up with a much faster boat that is a lot less hassle to set up and run.

Perhaps though, your RC boat needs brains, over brawn? Perhaps it’s time to look at autonomy…

Video after the break.

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Build A Boat With Your Buddies

It’s probably a dream common to many groups of friends among the Hackaday readership: go away together to a sunny island some time in the summer, take a load of beer and maybe a BBQ, and build something. Some of us get close to it at hacker camps such as Toorcamp or EMF, but few do it as well as [KristianKalm] and his friends. Their time on an island resulted in a boat, and what a boat it is!

To be fair, this is not a craft you’d sail the high seas in, its unique hull design rendered in single-skin plywood might have some stability issues and probably would have difficulty maintaining structural integrity in a high sea. But it’s perfect for their summer time backwater, with its electric outboard, steering wheel, and seat from a Russian saloon car.

The plans are fairly simple, cut from two sheets of ply it has an angular pointed front, sloping sides, and a fairly narrow bottom. Our experience with river boats would have led to a wider flat-bottomed hull, but this one looks stable enough for their purposes. Everything is held together with PVA glue and extra pieces of wood over the joints, something that amazingly keeps the water at bay. It is fairly obviously a rather basic and ever some might say rather ugly boat, but we’d guess there are few readers who wouldn’t want to give it a spin as part of a summer holiday.

If this has caught your fancy, don’t panic, the Northern Hemisphere still has some summer left, and all you need to do is find a plastic barrel!

Thanks [Keith Olson] for the tip!

Sparky, the Electric Boat

They say the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day that they buy the boat and the day they sell it. If you built your boat from scratch though, you might have a few more good days than that. [Paul] at [ElkinsDIY] is no stranger to building boats, but his other creations are a little too heavy for him to easily lift, so his latest is a fully electric, handmade boat that comes in at under 30 pounds and is sure to provide him with many more great days.

While the weight of the boat itself is an improvement over his older designs, this doesn’t include the weight of the batteries and the motor. To increase buoyancy to float this extra weight he made the boat slightly longer. A tiller provides steering and a trolling motor is used for propulsion. As of this video, the boat has a slight leak, but [Paul] plans to shore this up as he hammers out the kinks.

The boat is very manageable for one person and looks like a blast for cruising around the local lakes. Since it’s built with common tools and materials virtually anyone should be able to build something similar, even if you don’t have this specific type of plastic on hand.  And, while this one might not do well in heavy wind or seas, it’s possible to build a small one-person boat that can cross entire oceans.

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Building A Motorized Barrel Boat

[Rinoa Super-Genius] shows us in a video how to build a crude motorized barrel boat using only a few parts, including pontoons for extra buoyancy and stabilisation.

Building a barrel boat is simple. All you really need is a plastic barrel, scrap wood, PVC pipe with end caps, a battery, and a trolling motor. Of course, you could go even further and build your own trolling motor too.

The video shows the process of building the boat. You start of by cutting the barrel in two, making some calculations of water displacement in order to add the pontoons in the correct positions. These are just held in place with scrap wood screwed into the barrel. Connect the trolling motor to a battery and you’re done.

This isn’t obviously the best looking DIY boat out there, nor does it claim to be, but it can be built on a tight budget. If you have the right parts lying around, you could even build it for free.

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