This project is a great weekend project. I used two motors, a plastic tub, an RC car, and some wood to create a mini RC airboat. I was inspired after riding upon one in the Florida Everglades. This took me a couple of hours, and challenged my skills. This is a project for anyone who wants a fun, neat, little robot. I am 14 years old, so I will entering this into the Make-to-Learn Youth Contest. Please read and VOTE FOR ME!
Here are the answers to the four questions for the contest!
What did you make?
I made a small version of an airboat, which uses two motors and a 9 volt battery to power it. I used a plastic tub to act as a hull and to hold all of the electronics of the project. I used two small pieces of balsa wood to hold the motor and the rudder. I also used popsicle sticks to hold it all together. To attach wood and motors I used hot glue, but for all the wiring I used my soldering station.
How did you make it?
I had to use a lot of prior memory to put together this project. First, I took apart a broken RC car and took all the motors, and circuit boards out. I attached my motors to the circuit board and the wired it together. At first, I used 6V to power the airboat, as it was in RC car form, but I had to change to a 9V battery. With 6V, the motor couldn't turn the rudder. I have made projects before dealing with taking apart remote control cars, so I knew how they worked before I made the project. Another problem I had to deal with was weight distribution. The back of the boat was too heavy and it would fall backwards. So I added film canisters with quarters in them to make the front heavier. Once that was solved, it was tippy on the sides. I again added film canisters on the sides to balance it.
Where did you make it?
I made this mostly on my workbench, in my room, with my soldering iron, hot glue gun, and tools. I soldered and glued in my room, and as soon as I was done I filled up my bathtub and tested it. I didn't need many tools for the project so, I didn't need to use my dad's workshop.
What you learn?
I learned a lot after making this project. I gained knowledge in remote controls, wiring, motors, voltage, and many other things. I used family or the internet to learn about what I didn't know. I think the most important thing I learned was trial and error and not giving up. When I came across a problem, I could have called it a day and stopped, but I didn't. Another thing I learned is how reversing the polarity on the motor makes the propeller go the other way, which causes the boat to back up!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Here a list of tools and materials needed for this project:
A small plastic tub- to hold the parts
Four film canisters- to balance out weight
An RC car- to control the boat
Wood or popsicle sticks- to build the frame
Hot glue and a hot glue gun- to glue together the frame
Two DC motors- to propel the boat
A nine volt battery and clip- to attach the 9V battery and to power the boat
A thin copper pipe- to act as a axle for the rudder
A soldering iron- to solder together the electronics
A bath tub- to test the airboat!
Step 2: Disassemble the RC Car
The first thing I did was take apart the RC car to get the circuit board. First, I took off the cover of the car and then took apart the rest until I was left with only a circuit board, two motors and a battery pack. At this point, do not cut any wires. Once I put the whole project together, I realized that the 6V battery pack didn't provide enough power for the motor to turn the rudder. So I suggest at this point to remove the battery pack from the circuit board and replace it with a 9V battery clip and attach a 9V battery. Finally, I replaced the motors from the RC car with motors of my own, which is optional. Now you should have a complete circuit that is prepped and ready!
Step 3: Constructing the Fram
To construct the frame, you can use whatever you want. Although I will be explaining my frame. I used two long pieces of balsa wood and laid one on the tub and glued it down. The second one was connected about three inches above the other one via a popsicle stick (The pictures explain it better). Next, I attached another popsicle stick between the horizontal pieces of wood towards the end, and glued the main motor to that. My pieces of wood already had holes on the end which made it convenient for me to attach the copper tube. I just glued a washer to one end of the copper so it would stay on the wood, but still be able to spin. Once the tube was attached, I glued the shaft of the turning motor to the top of the tube. I did this by gluing a popsicle stick horizontally from the top piece of wood, and then attaching the motor to that as shown in the pictures. After that, I cut out a small rectangle of cardboard and glued it to the copper. This is the rudder.
Step 4: Balancing the Airboat
One of the most important steps is balancing the boat. Without this, your boat could tip and sink, which could ruin the electronics. First, fill a bathtub or sink with a shallow amount of water. Set the boat in but do not let go of it. Determine if it needs more weight on the right, left, front, or back. You will need to glue two empty film canisters to the sides of the airboat it stop it from tipping. Personally, mine was back heavy (which it should be) so I added two film canisters on the front of the boat and added quarters to them. This weighed down the front enough to make it balance. Now your boat should sit in the water and be able to float without tipping.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Now your boat should be totally functional! Make sure you have secure connections where you soldered, and that you balanced the boat. You might want to think about some sort of cover to protect the electronics in the tub. I used the actual lid that went with the tub and just cut it in half. I lined the cut with cotton after, so drips of water couldn't get into it. Finally, I constructed a small guard out of popsicle sticks to protect the propeller. That way, when it hits something, the propeller won't break.
Thank you so much for reading and please vote for this in the Make-to-Learn Youth contest! Have fun!