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].

Continue reading “Simple Propulsion For The Lazy Paddle Boarder”

Open Source Autopilot For Cheap Trolling Motors

Quiet electric trolling motors are great for gliding into your favorite fishing spot but require constant correction if wind and water currents are at play. As an alternative to expensive commercial GPS-guided trolling motors, [AlexAsplund] created Vanchor, an open source system for adding autopilot to a cheap trolling motor.

To autonomously control an off-the-shelf trolling motor, [Alex] designed a 3D printed steering unit powered by a stepper motor to attach to the original transom mount over the motor’s vertical shaft. A collar screwed to the shaft locks the motor into the steering unit when the motor is lowered. The main controller is a Raspberry Pi, which hosts a WiFi hotspot and web server for control and configuration using a smartphone. Using navigation data from an e-compass sensor and a marine GPS chart plotter, it can hold position, travel in a specified direction, or follow a defined route. [Alex] is also planning to add the option of using a GPS module instead of a commercial plotter.

For an estimated total of $300, including the motor, this seems like a viable alternative to commercial systems. Of course, it might be possible to add even more features by integrating the open source ArduRover autopilot, as we’ve seen [rctestflight] do on multiple autonomous vessels. You can also build your own open source chart plotter using OpenCPN, which rivals commercial offerings.

Ask Hackaday: What Are Magnetic Gears (Good For)?

Magnetic gears are surprisingly unknown and used only in a few niche applications. Yet, their popularity is on the rise, and they are one of the slickest solutions for transmitting mechanical energy, converting rotational torque and RPM. Sooner or later, you’re bound to stumble upon them somewhere, so let’s check them out to see what they are and what they are good for.

Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: What Are Magnetic Gears (Good For)?”