Just got the boat on the water for the first time and I wanted to jot down my thoughts while they’re still fresh. This was the first time I’ve ever made a boat, or an RC model of any kind. When I realized I could make them from Dollar Store foam and hot glue I was very impressed and happy to do so since I could get on the water for free, essentially. As the build progressed though, I started to feel like it was a lot of work for a temporary boat. Once on the water it snagged in some tree limbs and now has a small hole poked in it. So the foam board build is out for sure. Not sure I even want to do more testing, it’s not very robust. Possibly on a lake it might work. Possibly. On the plus side, if something goes wrong and I lose the craft, I wouldn’t have lost much. So there’s that. If I were to do this again, for the effort, I would use a kit or spend on a pre-made boat. But then you have the consequence of losing something more valuable(money, time, effort to build).
The boat did float very well. The hull was made two inches high and it barely sank below the water line but a quarter of an inch. This shape will tolerate quite a bit of weight, like extra batteries, solar cells, sensors, radio. Probably also means it’s more than I need and I could go with a catamaran style with less friction that will go a little faster for the same energy.
It’s not an easy platform to test. You need water and if something goes wrong, retrieving it is not simple. I was testing in a creek and navigation was weird. I’m so used to thinking of boats with rudders that an airboat is something to get used to. I suppose it would be fine in large open space, but since the end goal is the ocean, I really doubt I would use an airboat so I’m at a bit of a loss on what to do next. The boat sailing at minimum speed has a very low current draw(240mA), which is really nice. It’s hard for me to imagine, but based battery capacity, that’d be a couple of hours of run time. It would seem I could go multiple miles at that rate. That would need to be tested, but that’s very appealing.
As I wrap this up, I think I’m concluding that I will move forward with putting my Arduino GPS system in this boat and take it on a lake. It’s inexpensive, if something goes wrong it’s not a big deal. If I can get it to navigate two waypoints over a hundred yards it would be a smashing success. I’ll have more faith in the code and hardware I’ve built to scale up to the next level of cost and effort.
Having a blast.