Picture of Turn an RC plane into an RC boat

This is the story of how a remote control airplane turned into a remote control boat. 

Step 1: Fail dramatically at flying a remote control airplane.

Picture of Fail dramatically at flying a remote control airplane.
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The remote control airplane was only $30 at Harbor Freight.  I put it together in about 20 minutes, on the living room coffee table, during my two-year old son's nap time.  It was much easier to assemble than the complicated and expensive gas powered RC plane I built as a teenager, but it was also palpably cheap.  The battery charger doesn't have a light, so I read the instructions carefully to figure out how to tell when the batteries are fully charged. The answer: "When they start to feel hot."

A few weeks later there is a calm Sunday morning. My wife pushes the stroller while I carry the bright yellow plane down to the empty soccer field. The air isn't completely still, but the small gusts are only enough to rustle the leaves of the trees at the edge of the field.

I show my wife the arm motion to launch it, and then I push the stick all the way forward to full throttle. She tosses it, just right, into the air. I had trimmed it beforehand but it immediately begins to veer right. I nudge the stick left and keep the throttle high but it banks hard and loses lift, and before I can back off on the the throttle the plane flies hard into the pavement at the edge of the tennis courts. My son and I run over to inspect the damage. The wing and the body are in pieces.

I feel a little sorry for myself, and have the thought that I'm not cut out for RC airplanes. I remember how more or less the same thing happened the last time I tried to fly an RC plane I'd put together, when I was a teenager. And in the midst of my disappointment and self-recrimination, I notice that the innards - the RC receiver, battery, props, and motors, are all intact.  I get out my leatherman and free them from the wreckage. It occurs to me that boats are easier.

* * *

Acquire an inexpensive remote control airplane with two electric motors that can be controlled independently. Remove the motors, battery pack, and radio receiver from the plane.
BigAndRed3 months ago

Have you considered a twin hull approach. The catamaran arrangement might increase stability without needing so much weight in the keel.

lightnin9 (author)  BigAndRed3 months ago
No, but that's a great idea. You'll still need a fair amount of ballast though, unless you seal the electronics in something water tight. :)
jackdu241 year ago

What fm is the Yellow bee. Because i found this plane out in the forest tattered and broken. so i thought the same thing like you, that i would turn it into a boat. I think you did a really nice job. sincerely Jackdu24

Nicely done!
lightnin9 (author)  suicidal.banana1 year ago
Good dad
Kweek1 year ago
I LOLed at the first photo. Thanks dude, this made my day. True maker spirit!
lightnin9 (author)  Kweek1 year ago
XD Cool. Glad you liked it!
umm get to more of the motors an connect them together an walla. u now have the beginnings of a 4 prop chopper.
lightnin9 (author)  astral_mage1 year ago
That's a fantastic idea! They seem to have pretty good thrust. I'm not certain if it'd be enough to lift the bottle, the radio, and the battery pack -- but it certainly might be. So it's worth a try to anyone with spare motors / props and one of these kits!
gordonson1 year ago
Yes! That was great!
lightnin9 (author)  gordonson1 year ago
Thanks! :)
wkearney991 year ago
Bravo! Especially on the 'fail dramatically' realization.

One tip, keep a fishing rod handle to help retrieve the boat when it gets stuck too far from shore to reach easily...
lightnin9 (author)  wkearney991 year ago
Ah, great tip! I had to rely on a guy with sandals who didn't mind rolling up his pant-legs to help out. I'll remember to bring a fishing rod next time. :)
fjmontiel1 year ago
I got in mind doing the same, but with weels.
lightnin9 (author)  fjmontiel1 year ago
Awesome! Yeah that should work great. Steering might be a bit of a challenge. But the Yellow Bee has plenty of thrust. If your car is small and light, it'll probably go nice and fast. :)
i put the electronics into a line tracer robot it uses tank style steering
lightnin9 (author)  The nerdling1 year ago
Awesome! If you have pics / an instructable, please post a link!
sadly i don't have any pics, i did it years ago
Kid's a wizard
kondzio291 year ago
Got the same plane as yours ;) I prefer more professional look and will make it out of foam ;)
lightnin9 (author)  kondzio291 year ago
Fantastic~! Please drop me a link when you share it - would love to see it! I'll also add links to cool remixes like that into this instructable, if that sounds ok to you. :)
just after I finish ;)
I did a similar conversion when I was about thirteen, but the boat did not work very well since the drag of the water was not easily overcome by the thrust of the small motors. Nice project :)
lightnin9 (author)  awesomecreations1 year ago
Thanks! Yeah the Yellow Bee has some serious juice. Probably would be a lot faster without the sloppy keel design, and a smoother juice bottle. :)
Excellent use of broken toy, on a budget. in addition I really, really enjoyed reading your writing, especially the last passage, with which, I concur.
lightnin9 (author)  monterreymachito1 year ago
Thanks very much! :)