Small 3D-printed tugboat that could

If you’ve ever been to seaports, you’ve probably seen tugboats at work: the small boats that push, pull, and push huge cargo ships into the harder corners of the harbor. They sit inside their relatively small hull and manage to do it for huge powerful engines; Their power-to-tonnage ratio can be ten times that of most merchant ships.

A hardware hacker who similarly enjoys building overpowered machinery [Luis Marx], And it may not be a surprise that his latest project is a real tugboat. Living on the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany, [Luis] Likes to spend time in the water, but is bored with paddling. Local regulations limit the use of outboard motors but allow the use of R / C model boats; Therefore, building an R / C tugboat to move yourself around the lake should be completely legal.

Although we’re not sure if Lake Constance Police will follow the same argument, [Luis]Its model is an excellent part of tugboat engineering. With a design inspired by 3DBenchy, the standard 3D printer benchmark that anyone with a 3D printer has probably printed in no time, took about 30 hours to make the parts and the generous help of epoxy resins to make it all waterproof. A Biffy lithium-ion battery pack drives two brush-less DC motors designed for racing drones, which together can produce about one kilowatt of power.

This, unfortunately, turned out to be much more than the small boat could handle: any attempt to use it simply made it jump out of the water and land on its back. Setting the motor controller to about 50% makes it much more controllable, yet powerful enough to move [Luis] Around his standup paddle board. The boat is controlled via a custom-made handheld R / C controller that communicates with ESP8266 inside the boat via WiFi. Without any radar, the left-right control is only affected by halving the power of one motor.

A fully charged battery pack provides enough juice for about 40 minutes of tagging, so bringing paddles with you is probably a good idea in any case. If not, of course, you’ve got a solar-powered autonomous tugboat ready to rescue you.

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