Introduction: R/C Paradox - a Pair of Radio Controlled Duck Decoys

Picture of R/C Paradox - a Pair of Radio Controlled Duck Decoys

After driving my friend's R/C boat on a duck pond one day, I was inspired to build an R/C duck.
I ended up buying a pair of duck decoys at the local flea market for $10. These are intended to be used by duck hunters to lure unsuspecting water foul within blasting range. When researching what kind of cheap R/C boat I could find to tear apart and reassemble into the duck, I found the yellow 10" submarine at RadioShack on sale for $20. They are available in two different channel frequencies, so I bought one of each, (excited now that I might be able to make two!). So now all I had to do was figure out a way to connect the ducks to the submarines in a fashion that would allow them to look and float like real ducks.

below are som links i found along the way:

R/C duck with a vengeance and rocket launcher

RadioShack R/C submarine

DuckCam Decoy Intructable

commercially prebuilt R/C ducks

Step 1: Stuff You'll Need

Picture of Stuff You'll Need

I had a hard time with the first version of the project, making a good seal between the duck and the sub.
It sank.I decided then, if I filled the duck with foam, it wouldn't matter if it leaked.
Also it would be easier to change the batteries, or add a different accessory, like shark fin.

duck decoy - hollow hard plastic, not wood or rubber.
spray foam - this stuff is messy and hard to clean up
heat gun
utility knife
(not pictured)
drill, holesaw, all thread stud, hex nut, hot glue gun

This where I should mention a missing step.
Notice in the picture I have used a hole saw to cut a circular hatch in the duck's back.
go ahead and do this first.

Step 2: Cut the Ballast Off

Picture of Cut the Ballast Off

I used a utility knife. depending on the hardness or thickness of your duck you may want to use a dremmel tool or a saw. It did help a little to heat up the blade with the heat gun. The ballast is what makes the duck float upright. This will also create the hole that we need for the periscope and upper part of the submarine to fit inside the duck.

Step 3: Heat Form the Duck

Picture of Heat Form the Duck

The top of the submarine isn't completely flat like the bottom of the duck. To make the duck contour the submarine, I used a heat gun, to warm up the plastic, and pressed the submarine into place. You may need to hold the sub there until the plastic cools. different plastic have different memory properties, so you may need to exaggerate the indention to have it fit properly when it cools.

Step 4: Fill Up the Duck With Spray Foam

Picture of Fill Up the Duck With Spray Foam

I suggest using rubber gloves, because this stuff is really hard to get off your hands.
After allowing the foam to completely cure, carve out the space for the periscope section of the submarine.

Step 5: Mounting Hardware

Picture of Mounting Hardware

The submarine already has a small hole in the top portion behind the periscope. I simply drilled it out a little bigger with 5/32" bit. Then I used the heat gun to heat up a 3/16" all-thread stud, and drove it into the hole. This will stick out through the ducks back, and be our connecting point.

Step 6: Extending the Switch

Picture of Extending the Switch

Using the same method as the previous step, I drove a machine screw into the top of the periscope.
The periscope happens to be the power switch for the submarine. I chose a screw with a large head.
it will be concealed inside the duck, but accessible via a hole, in the ducks back. You want it to come close the the duck shell with out touching it, so you can push it with a key or a small screwdriver.
(yes I'm and old school Mac user)

you may want to take some measurements, with the duck pre-assembled to get the screw length right.

Step 7: Connection

Picture of Connection

here I have hot-glued the circular hatch back in place and drilled a hole in it that matches up with
the stud allowing it to penetrate the duck shell and accept the nut that hold the whole thing together. through the hole on the left you can see the machine screw head. this is our power button.

Step 8: Mission Complete

Picture of Mission Complete

Duck is now seaworthy. Now repeat steps 1-7 for a second duck.

Step 9: Duck at the DeYoung

Picture of Duck at the DeYoung

I took the duck for a test swim in Golden Gate Park, next to the DeYoung Museum. Currently there is a large neon sculpture there that is part of the Dale Chihuly exhibit.

here's some pictures I took of the Saffron Tower

and a short video clip of the other duck in action


theawesomeninja (author)2011-08-04

I think I'm derping here but what's the paradox?

The duck is supposed to float. While the submarine is supposed to sink.

Matrix-technician (author)2011-05-29

Just so you know, the link at the top leads to a french website with no sign of the r/c rocket launcher duck.. so...... yea.

capricorn (author)2008-07-27

Just a suggestion: Why don't you find a way to hide a cam in the duck so to have short distance documentaries of other birds? Aside from this I like it, but I would prefer if it wasn't used to lure some duck in getting a lead poisoning ;)

Legoman200119 (author)capricorn2011-02-03

Lead shot is illegal for waterfowl hunting and lead shot can only be used for hunting upland game like quail and dove.

bladelord (author)capricorn2010-10-04

I would prefer a case of Steel Poisoning for them. They taste to good to pass up when I can head out of town during Duck season... which is coming up btw.

Don't worry, lead shot has been banned since 1991, they get steel poisoning now. ;-)

woah wtf wat country r u from?

the United States

figures lol in australia we still use it

bustedit (author)capricorn2008-07-30

yeah, and it will die of massive trauma or blood loss before poisoning would even set in. Maybe I'll try it with an R/C SHARK FIN...for the local park duck pond, and maybe figure out how to get it to submerge a lil!!!!!

Lignumvital (author)2010-10-24

I say make this little guy automated. Micro controller+Motion sensor = Seeking duck

courtney (author)2008-07-27

these ducks are strictly for fun. I would never think of harming any real ducks or other animals for that matter. I really would like to add a camera, and maybe a string of baby ducks.

bladelord (author)courtney2010-10-04

If you add the baby ducks, DO NOT use it in a location with large mouth bass. You might lose the whole rig when the bass hit the duckling at the rear of the train.

Wario (author)2008-07-27

nice, this will aid me in duck hunting.

cmskallen (author)Wario2008-08-01

Check your states regs first. Some states don't allow electronic decoys and you could get a hefty fine.

bladelord (author)cmskallen2010-10-04

Very Good recomendation.

Doveman (author)Wario2008-07-28

me too

Damp Cuttlefish (author)2010-08-26

(person1) ooh look, a duck, here ducky ducky (person2) Thats no duck, its a ROBODUCK (person1) ?????? (person2) RUNNNNNNN!!!!!

kcls (author)2010-08-22

I really think this needs a video! Great idea, anyway.

courtney (author)kcls2010-08-22

there is  a short clip of the first duck on my flickr.
link is on the last step page.
should post more, with both ducks thanks

kcls (author)courtney2010-08-22

Cool! Thanks.

J-Five (author)2009-10-30

This project really quacks me up!!

Sorry I couldn't resist.

saigancat (author)J-Five2010-08-21

That joke was fowl.

wsanriv (author)2010-06-22

So diabolic and so cool, maybe with a small audio record of the female "quack". Muajjajaja we could take over the pound. Nice work Dude

pinguino117 (author)2010-04-29

i have the same r/c sub...but i dismantled it  :(

nickademuss (author)2009-01-26

Cool, you could make them motion tracking and seek out a duck and self destruct.... Oh wait the duck might not like that, lol

frikkie (author)2009-01-07

Does anybody in this world know where I can get radio control schematics WITHOUT USING pic ics?!! I want to build my own radio control toys and want to learn in the process.All I get is pic circuits or kits. :(

darkmuskrat (author)2008-07-27

Its not a Paradox Its a Pair-o-Ducks :P this is awesome :D


imkwl12345 (author)FreshPineSent2008-12-25


ItsTheHobbs (author)darkmuskrat2008-08-02

Lol! thats funny too!

R4Man18 (author)2008-08-05

See if you were using an rc car it would be 4chan duckroll!!

balisticjoe (author)2008-08-02

This is begging to have a wireless "magic trick" flametrower put on it. Um to scare the ducks at your will. Maybe an annoying friend in you pool.

courtney (author)2008-08-01

wholey quack! this decoy blows mine away...

ItsTheHobbs (author)courtney2008-08-02


nak (author)2008-07-31

Nice!! I used to work at radioshack and those RC subs would get returned all the time. It was nearly a 100% return rate, you won't try and return them with the ducks on will you? That would be funny.

courtney (author)nak2008-08-01

yeah they seem to be pretty cheaply made, and the range is pretty short, but they're only $20.

Benwa (author)2008-07-30

Tried to find the jet ski for the duk-cam instructable, but got frustrated and went to RS and got the sub. I might hack it up and do something similar to the duck cam. Everything at the toy stores was overpriced and not what I wanted. BTW, Am I the only one who goes to a toy store and walks out with the urge to get a vasectomy? Man, there is nothing more annoying than children in a toy store. All the children lose their damn minds and all the parents are angry and holding back the urge to whack the kid upside the head. They should put pamphlets on birth control in your bag along with your receipt. How do you breeders do it! Maybe its the area I live in. I generally like kids but that was ridiculous. Anyway, the range on my sub seems a little short, maybe 20 feet at best. Tested by turning it on and remote on and just walked away with sub (when both are on the props always spin. Is it better on the water? Maybe I can figure a way to increase antenna length. Have a basic knowledge of radio only. Know antenna length ideally will correspond with wavelength. Any nerd help will be appreciated. Currently fighting the urge to open the sub in case I have to return it. Its hard, there is nothing better than cracking open a case and hearing the sweet sound of a voided warranty. Can't help it, I am a slave to my curiosity. Who am I kidding, that thing is going to be dismantled as soon as it dries from its trip in the bathtub.

mweston (author)2008-07-30

paradox... pair-o-ducks... hmmm

Evilbubble (author)2008-07-30

It would be really cool i you could make the duck slowly submerge with the submarine , it would really confuse some bystanders . Great idea, i was talking to mate about doing this exact thing a few weeks ago.

themonkeyz (author)2008-07-29

It would be great if you could add some sounds for your decoy to chat with other ducks!

About This Instructable



Bio: I am a dedicated signage professional with over 25 years of experience and expertise earned working in literally every aspect of the sign industry, from ... More »
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