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Help with Autonomous Boat Propulsion

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Help with Autonomous Boat Propulsion

Old 04-12-2021, 01:01 PM
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Lightbulb Help with Autonomous Boat Propulsion

Hi folks,

I'm a complete noob when it comes to all things RC but I have set myself a challenge to build an autonomous boat which I'm hoping will eventually (hopefully!) go round the world.

I'm just at the information gathering stage, but my current ideas are to build the main structure out of PCV piping so it is semi-submersible and will auto self-right, solar recharging, some sort of Raspberry Pi navigation and maybe satellite or Lora communications. This is just a hobby so I'm trying to do it on a very tight budget!

The questions I have now is the propulsion for the boat. The 2 main contenders I see it are:
  1. 2x underwater electric thrusters to give skid steering
  2. 1x waterjet pump with a direction nozzle
I think that the main requirements are:
  1. reliable for long running without any maintenance.
  2. survive big waves and not break
  3. strong thrust against currents
  4. low power consumption
  5. easy to build for a total noob!
I would really appreciate your thoughts and ideas so I don't go off down the wrong path.

Thanks muchly!

Old 04-12-2021, 01:41 PM
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Step 1 Look here - SEACHARGER - SeaCharger Oceangoing Autonomous Boat - Home
Step 2 Figure out why his had the result that it did, and look for a way round the problem

Steering - tight manoeuvring is likely not needed, differential propulsion is probably pointless, a rudder will work well as a steering trim, just as it has for several thousand years. Long range vessels use conventional open screws and rudders. There is a reason. Water jets and nozzles are suited to particular circumstances that don't apply to long range and economical use of power.
1 Long term reliability. Unlikely with hobby grade gear. As model boaters, we tend to regard regular servicing as the norm.
2 Big waves. Build strong, but build light so that it can ride waves. Probably one or the other.
3 Strong thrust against currents. This requires a lot of power. At the same time the best use of that power comes from the hull design which must slide through water rather than bludgeon it out of the way.
4 Low power consumption See 3
5 Easy build Hard luck. If anything about this was easy, it would already have been done, probably several times.
Old 04-14-2021, 02:47 AM
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And my first question would be WHY do you want to do this?
Old 04-14-2021, 03:09 AM
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Hi Folks,

Thanks very much for your replies. I appreciate your time and thoughts.

I had already seen the SeaCharger project while I was doing my research, and I have since emailed them to ask some questions regarding their design. It looks pretty impressive, and like you said he had some issues which may be resolved with some design changes. I totally agree with point 5 too! I'm realising that I have set myself a very high target in just building the vessel never mind all the electronics, navigation, comms etc.

As for why I want to do this, well I guess there are several reasons. Fun, a hobby, education, self development, something interesting to do with my son and a way of educating him in all the aspects of the build including problem solving and something to keep my brain active. I've always been into tech things like Raspberry Pi and computers, but I've never really had a practical use for it, so I thought this would be a challenging way to bring it all together. It seems like I may have bitten off more than I can chew though!

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