Introduction: Build an ALL SOLAR Remote Controlled Boat RC Boat Using Solar Attic Fan Parts -Rescue Boat-

Picture of Build an ALL SOLAR Remote Controlled Boat RC Boat Using Solar Attic Fan Parts -Rescue Boat-

You can build an ALL SOLAR remote controlled boat using solar attic fan parts.

Have you ever been to the lake to watch the guys with the Chris Craft or Sail Boats? They're sitting around talking 90% of the time. Why aren't they running their boats more? Because the batteries only last about 20 minutes. So, if they spend a few hours at the lake they really only running the boats a fraction of the time (I know because I built a Chris Craft). So, here's what I made so I can have my hands on a controller the entire time I'm there.

This boat has absolutley ZERO batteries.

You'll need to buy one of those up coming popular Solar Attic Fan kits. It comes with the solar panel and a fan. You won't need the aluminum fan blade or shroud but you'll use everything else. I got mine on ebay for under $100

You'll also need basic RC electronics such as a matched radio and receiver, ESC and a servo. These are all things the typical RC modeler and model store have on hand.

Step 1: Easy Build

Picture of Easy Build

I don't have pics of it going together but you can get the idea from the pics. I used aluminum flat stock for the side supports and 4" plastic pipe for the pontoons. I got some steel rod the same diameter as the shaft of the motor for the drive shaft and the propeller is a 2.5" from Dumas. Mount the motor with a U-clamp from the hardwar store and build a bushing to hold the shaft near the propeller.

Step 2: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

I made the rudder out of the same aluminum flat stock and just bolted it to the servo horn. Nothing fancy there. I didnt even need to use any kind of voltage regulator. The solar panel puts out 19V max and most ESCs are made for higher voltage so its an easy wiring job. Hook the panel up to the ESC power, hook the motor up to the ESC Motor Out, plug in the connectors to the receiver and its done.

Step 3: Performance

Picture of Performance
So, yes, it's very slow but at least I have something to do inbetween run times at the lake. As long as there is sunshine I can drive this boat because it's 100% SOLAR POWERED.

It also makes a GREAT rescue boat. If someone flips over or stops working I can just putt out there and bring them back in.

Send me pics if you build a differnd style!


DavidD171 (author)2016-03-17

Very smart and cool. I started building an RC boat last week using PVC pipes and stumbled upon this tonight... I was thinking of putting a solar panel on mine too to charge the batteries while the motors weren't being used... did you use any sort of isolation device between the charger and batteries on your battery version?

MarbethH (author)2015-03-28

i like it,,,i have a RC too but it has powerd by a salt water..

ebony44 (author)2014-07-08


astral_mage (author)2013-10-10

would be nice to put a lipo battery in there or 2 of them. can be from the mirco r/c choppers. to supply some power. when its cloudy.

berrymartin (author)2013-06-10

Great information about Solar Remote Controlled Boat, but I was totally confused ! Where you get the directions and materials to build that?,And one more thing, the energy goes straight from the solar panels to the engine, or there is some kind of battery/capacitor??

ArtisanEclectic (author)2013-06-09

My R/C Sailboat, A SOLING One Meter, uses 4 AA batteries in the boat, And I take it to the pond and run it for three hours easy, without changing batteries. And cloudy days are the best days to sail.

wolfgang64 (author)2012-12-23

Very interesting. How waterproof and weatherproof is the solar panel and electronics? If you capsise will you wreak it?

Aperture Laboratories (author)2011-11-22

where did you get the r/c control module and the motor and servo.

raniamit110 (author)2009-10-18

 Can I know what is the area of your solar panel???
also I would like to ask that is it better to place propeller half immersed in water or fully immersed??  
and what about the propeller...I mean...propeller with 2 wings are better or the one with 4 wings??


Halfway out is better. Any performance/power boat uses a "surface piercing" screw.

A propeller is for aircraft, boats use screws

place it fully immersed, otherwise its only hlaf the pwer being used. and how many blades it has, it doesn't matter. what matters is the pitch. but i would go with 4.

garrett10 (author)2009-03-08

How much $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

ReCreate (author)garrett102009-05-15

Well Most people don't have a solar panel,So that will cost you at least 40 dollars for a cheap,low Amperage one

prabbit22m (author)ReCreate2009-05-15

The solar panel and motor will cost about $200 on ebay. It's a 12V 20 watt panel and you can see it's pretty slow. Anything less would probably not move. If you buy the cheapest Radion and Receiver, ESC and servo you can find used on ebay you'll probably spend another $80. The properler was $45 and other materials were about $20. I built a much better design that's a lot faster but don't have video of it yet. See my other instructibles to find it. -Peter

ReCreate (author)prabbit22m2009-05-15

Ouch,12V at 20 watts is...about 7-9 amps,Thats allot,You probably used An AC motor,they are not too efficient on DC electricity.

prabbit22m (author)ReCreate2009-05-16

12V at 20 Watts is exactly 1.6 Amps. Solar power is Always DC Power. AC motors don't work at all with a DC power source

ReCreate (author)prabbit22m2009-05-16

Umm Yes they do,Just in case (Justin,Case,Ha)You don't know what AC is i will explain.
On the terminals,One is positive and One is negative(No durrr),The one with Positive changes to negative and the one with negative changes to positive,IT repeats this process at 60 Hertz,Thats what AlternatingCurrent Means.
Now,These motors have so spin in the same direction no mater what polarity is recived,If you hook it up to a battery they will spin,If you hook it up in reverse they still spin,in the same direction,And DC Motors,Direct current,The polarity is always the same,And If you feed it AC electricity what happends,Nothing!,It will Only vibrate,Due to the Current Alternating,The Electricity.
1.6 Amps is about the 1.5 of a standard remote control car,they are usually 900MAh If it is 1000 Mah,Or 1 Ah ,If you draw 100 Miliamp Hours,It will work,for 10 Hours,If you draw,1000 Miliamp Hours,It will last,1 Hour.
If you draw 20 miliamps it will last,1500 Hours,about the current a standard LED will draw,And that is about,A week and then Some.

ReCreate (author)ReCreate2009-05-16

Bottom Line,Your boat should go Very Fast,And IT should Be enough TO power a laptop,Via The battery replaced with the cell The Laptop batts range from3 to 5 Amps,Lasting about 3 hours,Meaning the laptop Constantly Draws a bit less than an Amp,And,Yes,THat means you could Power(Probably without CD-ROm or floppy) A laptop With the Phone line,I was just thinking about that,the phone line is a bit less than an amp,and i got my (old) Laptop to run on a 900 Miliamp Battery(THe RC car one i was telling you about.)

prabbit22m (author)ReCreate2009-05-16

What the heck does the speed of this boat have to do with the power consumption of a lap top or phone line? Some RC boats can use 100+ Amps. Yes, that's not a typo. One Hundred Amps or more. Boats take a lot more energy to move than cars. And speaking of cars. You say RC cars use 1.5 amps? None of the cars I have use that little. Maybe the $10 radio shack ones. Even my smallest car (Losi Mini-T) has a 1400mah battery pack and only last about 15 minutes which means it uses an AVERAGE of about 5 amps. That's average. During acceleration it uses 30 to 40 amps and it's a tiny car. The 10th scale cars use 4000mah batteries (that's 4 amp hours) and last 15 minutes. That's an average of 16 amps and peaks in the hundreds. Check out the ratings on any RC car ESC (that's the Electronig Speed Control) that powers the motor. They are all capable of hundres of amps because that's how much they need. I think you're confusing amps and amp-hours. You can probably get a laptop to run on a 100miliamp-hour battery but it will only last a couple minutes. You must also not be familiar with boat dynamics. This is a big heavy boat. I would imagine even the perfect combo of motor and propeller would take 10-20 amps to get it to plane. I would love to be proved wrong. Yes, I know what AC is. Technically, house AC doesn't behave exacly like you say. The white wire running through your house is neutral (like a ground and often tied to ground in new homes) so it never techinally is positive or negative. And the black wire changes from +120Volts to -120Volts. If you take two white wires that are out of phase of each other it will give you 220VAC. Regardless of the technicality of AC current, AC motors will not run on DC current. It's a physical imposibility. And AC motors CAN change direction. They have to be three phase just like RC brushless motors. You simple switch two of the three wires and it changes direction. I know what you're saying, RC cars use DC batteries so how can they have a brushless AC motor. Well the brushless speed control converts DC to three phase AC-type current using pulses. AC motors do not spin with DC current. DC motors do not spin with AC current. Unless you have a motor that claims to be AC but has a rectifier in it that converts it to DC then I suppose you could use either type but technically that's a DC motor and they just convert AC to DC. You see, DC motors have brushes that contact the stator which change the magnetic feld in the rotor as it rotates. This reacts to the opposing magnets glued to the inside of the motor can. AC motors have coils attached to the inside of the can and the alternating current creates the magnetic field to pull the rotor around. There is no way either motor will run on anything other than it's intended for. Open up any motor. If it has brushes then it also has coils of wire wound around the rotor (the part that spins in the middle) which means it's DC. If it has coils around the inside of the case then it's AC. Simple as that. If you think AC motors can run on DC then PLEASE show me. Show me a motor you have that you can hook up to AC and then DC and it will spin using either.

ReCreate (author)prabbit22m2009-05-16

Ouch,overkill,Big time. Anyways,You May see "AC" Motors out there,Sometimes you see them with a built-in transformer to change it to DC,And i have AN AC motor,From a vacuum cleaner,I use it all the time with A Lead acid battery i have. Also,I got a bit off topic,I tend to do that :P Also,I don't Have The 5 Hours it would Take to read your whole comment

prabbit22m (author)ReCreate2009-05-16

5 hours to read a few paragraphs? Haha, you're a funny guy. I'll give ya that. I'll condense it down to three sentences for ya: Let's see a vid of your motor running on both AC and DC. Let's see you build a boat that goes fast using only one amp. Then we'll talk.

ReCreate (author)prabbit22m2009-05-17

AC motor is known as a universal motor. This is because this motor can also run with DC current.
I Will start a project on the Boat,But How Fast does yours go(MPH?)

aplauche (author)ReCreate2011-06-09

i would like to make it clear for future readers of this comment string:
ignore "recreate" he/she does not know what they are talking about and just makes a fool of themselves.
prabbit22m has some good info in the long paragraph response so its worth a read.

ReCreate (author)aplauche2011-06-09

Good day sir, would you like to grave dig some more?

wogga (author)2011-06-09

One way to get more than the '20 minutes' mentioned at the top in RC boating, is to work with a rc sailboat. There are still 2 servo motors that use juice - usually 2-4 AA rechargeables controlling rudder and how far the boom/main sheet goes out. If a long narrow panel or series of small identical panels could be attached to an rc sailboat with producing 5v or so o.c., you'd have a fast, controllable solar/wind boat. I'm modding my Kyosho Fairwind 900 for this.

explosivemaker (author)2009-07-11 if only it could be programmed to drive itself....

digitjim (author)explosivemaker2011-01-20

Rember the cars and tanks that had the little disk that sat on the steering system they truned at a slow pace and the steering would be spring loaded to pull left or right you can use that kind of system..

DRodriguez (author)2011-01-18

Something to think of is the fact that you don't need a propeller in the water. I'd recommend trying two (little) fans pushing air off of the back. Steering can still be done with a rudder but I think you'll find that your speed will dramatically increase.

Waren-Neutron (author)2010-11-23

it is so slow, it have a turbo or upgrader?

riverreaper (author)2010-06-16

can you build one with a car atached under it so when the lake dryed up you could still drive it around , we have lots of sun but the lakes dont last long

vickivicki (author)2010-04-25

can u tell me the cost for doing this project?

travis_bickle (author)2010-04-16

 Really interesting project- clever in it's simplicity, and well executed. Guess what I'm building this weekend :)

b4wii (author)2009-12-12

 i would suggest using a small 12 volt lead-acid battery instead. the battery would last a long awhile and you could still run it on a cloudy day...

thebfs (author)b4wii2010-01-20

Use bothe battery and charger to extend runtime

rajsekhar291 (author)2009-12-29

how do we move the flap and please the circuitry please

thebfs (author)rajsekhar2912010-01-20

The flap (rudder im assuming) is moved by the servo motor and gets power from the reciever id assume

69ballsmahoney (author)2010-01-03

That is freakin awesome

firezone (author)2009-10-04

might i suggest using a solar engine setup, this would allow the power to build up and release in bursts which would make it go a little faster, heres a link for you:

prabbit22m (author)firezone2009-10-04

I thought about doing something like that but this thing takes a couple amps at 12V. The diagram you showed had a 4700uf cap which, under load, would release a "burst" to make it go faster for the first 1 microsecond. I could upgrade to a HUGE automotive stereo capacitor measuring 3" in diameter and 4" long and that HUGE capacitor would only store a couple seconds of energy needed. So, I just wired in a battery pack. The solar charges it when idle and the pack will last an hour or so under full speed.

sparkyskarts (author)2009-10-01

This is AWESOME!!! Sooo Simple, yet very Complete! You Rock!! Great Instructable!! Thanks for Sharing!!

Mr.NHRA (author)2009-09-14

Very nice! I started this stuff when i was like 7 and I have been progressing ever sense. Its hard to feel confident in your inventions when people are always nagging on every little detail and making a fuss over stuff I had no idea about until it was explained to me. I built a solar powered boat at the age of 11 and was about to test it somewhere other than the bathtub when i fried my receiver. My boat also went super slow because of lack of amperage. I solved this in two ways, 1) I added a capacitor to the solar panel and 2) I geared my shaft so the motor turned once and the propeller turned four times, or a 1 to 4 ratio. this also made it harder for the motor to work and it sounded like a dieing rabbit but it went 4 times as fast! By the way, I built my boat out of pink insulation foam, recycled and placed in series solar walk way light panels and the electronics out of my old Traxas bandit. It would only cost my about $20-50 dollars if I had started from scratch. I could buy the radio system for around $25 on e-bay now days and the foam for $5 bucks a sheet (which i would only need half of) and the solar panels I can buy or find for free locally. Like i said, very nice boat!

donbot (author)2009-09-03

I build one but using a battery pack that has six batteries

thefunktopus (author)2009-03-10

What happens if u are using this boat and its out in the middle of the lake but the sun disappears? Wouldn't it be good to have a small backup battery for insurance? Nice project though

Kryptonite (author)thefunktopus2009-05-28

I personally agree, when I get the cash I plan to make this, and build in a relay that makes it trip over to a set of batteries when there isn't enough voltage going through to the motor.

airfreak2 (author)2009-03-10

well if you wnted speed you could have a battery that has an elctro magetic relay to swich when the battery dies to solar power or vise versa

odiekokee (author)2009-02-13

Increase speed by turning your prop around the right way :) the straighter edge should be leading through the water, and it looks like you have it wrong way around. I may be totally wrong though. Looks very cool. Does the panel power the receiver also?

prabbit22m (author)odiekokee2009-02-14

I'm far from an expert on props so please enlighten me if i'm wrong. The prop blades are straigh on one edge and rounded on the other so I understand what you mean when you say the straighter edge should be leading through the water. BUT, the blades aren't flat, they are curved and the concave side is facing backward. That just seemed logical. Yes, receiver and servo are solar powered. There are absolutely no batteries.

odiekokee (author)prabbit22m2009-02-14

Hmm, yeah, i see what you mean. Which direction did the original application (Dumas?) spin the prop, and orient it? I'm going to have to go off researching now. Gee...thanks *wink*

Gjdj3 (author)2009-01-25

This is a really cool project. I just wish there was some more detail! You weren't all that descriptive.

prabbit22m (author)Gjdj32009-01-26

Sorry, I thought the pics were pretty self explanitory. It's only 4 pieces of flat aluminum connecting the PVC pipe and panel. Electronics are basic RC car stuff. I would be happy to answer you might have. The basic "idea" I wanted to share is that a solar panel and motor from a Solar Attic Fan make a good pair for this project. And a regulator isn't needed with a normal RC Car Electronic Speed Contol. -Peter

About This Instructable




Bio: I would love to find a job where I could play with fabrication tools all day and be creative. Anyone have a suggestion?
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