Explorer Paddle Boat
My first paddle boat. Features an underwater camera.
Completion date: 06/05/2014
Power: electric (PF system)
Dimensions: length 52 studs / width 56 studs / height 30 studs
Weight: 1.043 kg
Displacement: 1.8 kg
Propulsion: 2 x PF M motor geared 3:1
Motors: 2 x PF M motor
Having made plenty of experiments with various conventional propellers, and one with an airboat, I decided to try yet another method of propulsion: paddle wheels. I also wanted to experiment with putting a camera under water, preferably on some jib that would move it up and down. However, the GoPro camera with the watertight housing on it proved quite large and heavy in relation to the boat (it alone constituted to about one-sixth of its total weight, and a jib would probably make it even worse), creating a risk of losing stability while moving the jib. I also didn’t see much sense in putting the camera deep under water, expecting very limited visibility, so the boat ended up with fixed camera located just below the waterline.
The boat itself was very simple, with PF system used instead of the RC one for easier steering (RC system makes skid steering difficult, as it has single output for propulsion motors). I had no experience with paddle wheels whatsoever, and it took me a few takes to figure out that they require plenty of torque – boat variant with two PF L motors geared 1:1 was actually slower. The wheels also proved to splash water all over the deck, which could be remedied by building housings over their upper halves or by separating them from the deck with tall sides. Due to wheels’ size both solutions would be massive, heavy and difficult in transport, so I decided simply to move all the electric elements to the middle of the hull, covering the battery and putting the IR receiver on top of a tall structure. Everything but the receiver ended up with water splashed over it, but luckily all the sensitive areas – plugs and power outlets – remained dry.
The paddle wheels proved fast and efficient propulsion method, but also a messy one. They stirred water a lot, to dismay of some fishermen, they required way more torque than conventional propellers do, and they splashed so much water on deck that I had to empty the boat every few minutes. The underwater camera didn’t really work out because visibility was so low that the recordings looked like diving in a soup. I also lacked any interesting underwater structures to swim over. Clearly, a swimming pool would be a much better location for using such a boat.