Cheap RC Boat Turned Weirdly Capable Seaplane

What do you get when you combine a cheap RC boat from Walmart, foam board, a couple powerful motors, and some aluminum cans? Most people would just end up with a pile of garbage, but we’ve already established [Peter Sripol] is fairly far from “most people”. In his hands, this collection of scraps turns into an almost unbelievably nimble seaplane, despite looking like something out of a TailSpin and Mad Max crossover episode.

In his latest YouTube video, [Peter] takes viewers through the process of turning one of these rather lame RC boats into an impressive flying machine. His took inspiration from the Sikorsky S-38, an American amphibious aircraft introduced in 1928. The S-38 looked like a fairly traditional boat bolted to the bottom of a set of huge wings, so it’s little surprise that he patterned this build after it.

The construction of the seaplane is very simple, and boils down to cutting some big wings out of foam board, using some sticks to give it some rigid framing, and putting a tail on it. The biggest problem is that the boat’s hull lacks the “steps” that a seaplane would have, so it’s not an ideal shape to lift out of the water. But with enough thrust and a big enough control surface, it all works out in the end.

Which is in effect the principle by which the whole plane flies. There’s a large elevator cantilevered far astern to help leverage the boat out of the water, but otherwise all other control is provided by differential thrust between the two top mounted motors. The lack of a rudder does make its handling a bit sluggish in the water, but it obviously has no problem once it’s airborne.

If [Peter] and his foam board artistry seem familiar, it’s probably from the not one but two homemade aircraft he built with shockingly similar techniques to this current project.

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3D Printed RC Jet Boat Gets Up To Speed

In one of those weird twists of fate, there’s currently a very high chance that anyone who owns a 3D printer has made a boat with it. In fact, they’ve probably printed several of them, so many that they might even have a shelf filled with little boats in different colors and sizes. That’s because it’s a popular benchmark to make sure the printer is well calibrated. But if you’re going to spend hours printing out a boat, why not print one that’s got some punch?

This 3D printable jet boat designed by [Jotham B] probably isn’t a great print to check your desktop machine’s calibration on, in fact you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got everything dialed in before taking on this challenge. If the classic “Benchy” is the beginners boat, then this is certainly for the 3D printing veterans. But if you’ve got the skills to pull it off, and some RC gear laying around to outfit it with, this could be a great project to end your summer on.

Unless you’ve got an exceptionally tall printer, the 460mm long hull will need to be printed in several pieces and then grafted back together. You could potentially use glue, but something a bit more robust like welding the parts together with a soldering iron is a better bet to make sure your printed boat doesn’t do its best Titanic reenactment out on the lake.

[Jotham] recommends printing the impeller at 0.15mm layer height, as you’ll want all the detail you can muster to provide a smooth surface. You’ll also need to use supports, so expect to spend a fair bit of time cleaning it up post-print. The rest of the model can be printed at 0.3mm, which is going to save a lot of time on the hull. All told, it will take about half a roll of filament to print all the parts for the boat (assuming no mistakes), which puts the pre-electronics cost at around $10 USD.

Speaking of electronics, you’ll need a RC receiver, a servo for steering, an electronic speed controller (ESC), and a suitable motor. [Jotham] used a 3674 brushless motor with a 120A water-cooled ESC, but notes that the setup is way overpowered. In the video after the break you can see the boat spends as much time airborne as it does in the water, which might look cool, but isn’t exactly efficient.

If you want to round out your 3D PLA fleet, we’ve also seen a printed FPV lifeboat as well as a hydrofoil that “flies” through the water.

[Thanks to Aidan for the tip.]

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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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