It’s A Boat? It’s A Duck? It’s A DIY Plastic Wrap Kayak!

Only few cinematic moments were as traumatically heartbreaking as [Mufasa]’s death in The Lion King and [Wilson]’s demise in Cast Away. To think, if only [Tom Hanks]’ character had found a role roll of stretch wrap in the washed up cargo content, he could have built a vessel with enough room to safely store his faithful companion. Sounds unlikely? Well, [sg19point3] begs to differ, and has a kayak to prove it.

It’s as brilliant as its construction materials are simple: tree branches, packing tape, and of course the stretch wrap. [sg19point3] used two different types of branches, one that bends just enough to shape the kayak in its length, and a more flexible variety to form the rings that hold it all together. After removing the bark, he shaped the branches as needed using some pegs in the ground, and let it dry for a few days. Once ready, he put them together and stabilized the construct with packing tape until it was ready for the grand finale of wrapping the entire thing in several layers of plastic wrap. To prove he trusts his own construct, he took it for a ride to the nearest water and lived to tell the tale — and to make a video about it, which is embedded after the break.

Admittedly, putting it together all by yourself on a remote island may be a bit laborious after all, so good thing [sg19point3] had some friends to help with the wrapping. Whether you’d want to take it beyond your local, shallow pond is maybe another story — you’d definitely want to steer clear of sharp rocks. For something more sturdy, check out the 3D-printed kayak from a few years ago. But in case you prefer wood, here’s a beautiful canoe.

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Go Up A Creek Without A Paddle

Kayaks are a some of the most versatile watercraft around. You can fish from them, go on backpacking trips, or just cruise around your local lake for a few hours. They’re inexpensive, lightweight, don’t require fuel, and typically don’t require a license or insurance to operate. They also make a great platform for a solar-powered boat like this one with only 150 watts of panels and a custom-built motor with parts from an RC airplane.

[William Frasier] built his solar-powered kayak using three solar panels, two mounted across the bow of the boat using pontoons to keep them from dipping into the water, and the other mounted aft. Separating the panels like this helps to prevent all three of them being shaded at once when passing under bridges. They’re all wired in parallel to a 12V custom-built motor which is an accomplishment in itself. It uses custom-turned parts from teak, a rot-resistant wood, is housed in an aluminum enclosure, and uses an RC airplane propeller for propulsion.

Without using the paddles and under full sun, the kayak can propel itself at about 4 knots (7 kmh) which is comparable to a kayak being propelled by a human with a paddle. With a battery, some of the shading problems could be eliminated, and adding an autopilot to it would make it almost 100% autonomous.

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Ambitious Hackerboat Project Still Aiming High

Last year we wrote about Hackerbot Labs’ autonomous boat, which project members hope to someday circumnavigate the globe. Now called Project Ladon, progress continues apace with a recent ocean test of their modified 18’ kayak, the TSV Disputed Right of Way. The kayak’s internal spaces contain a pair of lead-acid truck batteries controlled by a home-brewed control system that uses relays to control the craft’s trolling motor, with a Beaglebone and Arduino Mega under the hood.

The test was not exactly a success, with the boat actually avoiding the waypoints rather than sticking to them. Fortunately the team was aboard a chase boat so they were able to keep tabs on the craft. Unlike a quadcopter, which just falls down, a watercraft that borks may never be seen again.

Entered into the 2016 Hackaday Prize, the project has continued to gather steam, with presentations at both Toorcamp and Maker Faire Bay Area. In addition, they’re maintaining their Hackaday.io project site as well as a Patreon page.

Check out a couple of videos after the break! The test video is 360-degrees so you can drag around the POV.

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Building A Swarm Of Autonomous Ocean Boats

There’s a gritty feel to the Hackerboat project. It doesn’t have slick and polished marketing, people lined up with bags of money to get in on the ground floor, or a flashy name (which I’ll get to in a bit). What it does have is a dedicated team of hackers who are building prototypes to solve some really big challenges. Operating on the ocean is tough on equipment, especially so with electronics. Time and tenacity has carried this team and their project far.

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Maglev, Submersibles, And More At Maker Faire Detroit

This past weekend the Maker Faire returned to the motor city. While it seemed a bit smaller than previous years, the event still brought in a ton of awesome makers from the metro Detroit area and beyond.

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Although we don’t feature too many woodworking projects, there were quite a few woodworkers at the Faire with projects ranging from custom longboards pressed with a home built iron mold to DIY kayaks with elaborate wooden skeletons built by a local group of Michigan kayak builders. The kayaks were quite impressive: hand sewn nylon panels are wrapped around custom frames made from steamed white oak. It’s great to speak with the makers about the specialized skills needed for kayak building.

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Adding Tie Down Points To Almost Any Car

You know, sometimes it’s the simple hacks that get our attention.  If you have a roof rack, and use it often to shuttle things around, adding these stow-away, front tie downs might be for you.

Most all cars will have a few bolts along the top of the fender that ties into a semi-rigid or structural part of the vehicle. [Andrew Morrow] used about 12 inches of nylon strap, added a hole to the both ends, and attached them to the fender bolts. With the hood closed, he now has a convenient tie down location for what ever he’s hauling around.  We love that when not in use they simply can be stored beneath the hood. Hidden away, but not something you’ll forget to bring with you, or easily lost.  Just make sure that they don’t come in contact with moving engine parts, or hot exhaust manifolds.

Reverse Engineering The Kayak Mobile API

The travel meta-search website Kayak apparently used to have a public API which is no longer available. We can’t say we mourn the loss of the interface we’d never known about. If you are someone who was automating their searches for that perfect vacation getaway deal, there’s still hope. But either way you’ll like this one. [Shubhro Saha] figured out how to access the API used by the Kayak mobile app. We like that he details how to sniff the traffic between an app and the internet and make sense of what is found.

His tool of choice is the Python package Mitmproxy. We haven’t heard of it but we have heard of Wireshark and [Shabhro] makes the case that Mitmproxy is superior for this application. As the name suggests, you set it up on your computer and use that box’s IP as the proxy connection for your phone. After using the app for a bit, there is enough data to start deconstructing what’s going on between the app and remote server which which it communicates. We could have a lot of fun with this, like seeing what info those free apps are sending home, or looking for security flaws in your own creations.

[Thanks Juan via Twitter]