Eric the Tug (New pics and video)
Hi. This is my first project post (but not my first project), so sorry if I've done anything wrong.
I'm not sure if I'm OK to post this, as it is an RC model, but if not then I'll take it down.
Eric is a converted static model of a new york harbour tug. A few years ago, I was given a load of bits and pieces, including a large fiberglass hull (I remote controlled this, and built a superstructure, but that is another project), some old meccano, and a Lindberg kit for a diesel tug. I left it on the side for a while, and built up the hull, until a couple of years ago I decided to try and remote control it.
This took about a year, and the layout inside you can see in the first picture. In this form, I was running it off 8 AAA rechargables (AAs would have sunk it), and it was fitted out with a standard-sized reciver and a micro-servo for steering. For power, I was usinga motor I allready had, which was a bit on the heavy side and had a brass gear fixed to the shaft, geared onto the propshaft using a gear from a microwave oven. The motor was controlled by a large, heavy, 15-amp speed controller, which was total overkill as the motor drew less than an amp as stall current.
The motor and speed controller were mounted upfront, so to balance it I needed weight at the back. To do this, I superglued some large, heavy nuts at the back.
Apart from the drivetrain, Eric has LED lights in the interior, the searchlight, and the two navigation lights, which are powered by some pound-shop watch batteries, and turned on and off using a rotary switch (operated by a screwdriver down the funnel). The aerial is some coil wire wound up the mast, and plugged into the reciver using some pins from an old cannon plug. The deck was arranged so that it could be removed if need be, using a 3 hidden screws; one at the back, one in the middle through the winch, and one that's not really a screw in the bollards at the front (I threaded one of the bollards using a die, and it screws into another bit of microwave). The deck was sealed using a bit of insulating tape (this was just for the day, but it stayed that way for probably about two years).
The date I'd planned to get it ready for was that year's model boat club regatta (I'm a member of the local model boat club). I succeded in this, but most of the bodges needed to get it ready were left as they were until a couple of weeks ago.
As it was, Eric was slow, a bit noisy (due to bad mesh on the gears), low in the water, and cramped inside. It looked good on the water, and the batteries lasted for ever, but it wasn't ideal. The inside can be seen in the first pic. (please note that this is without the batteries or the reciver)
Therefore, I decided to convert it to brushless, on the basis that it would cut the weight, increace the power, and increace the space inside. I ordered a micro brushless motor and ESC before christmas, but they finally arived a two weeks ago. These cost me about £20 from a local hobby shop. I took off the deck, removed the old motor and ESC to use elsewhere, and took the gear off the shaft. I mounted the motor above the stern tube, and geared it down with some gears for a scalextric car scrounged from school. The ESC needed less voltage, so I cut down to 4 AAAs in the back.
The loss of weight at the front meant that I could get rid of the nuts at the back (which had gone rusty), cutting the weight even more.
Once I was happy with it's poise in the water, I put the deck back on and sealed it down using some spare self-adhesive craft foam, and that's how it is now. I haven't yet run it on a pond (I have now) , but in the bath it appears to have far more power, and can now tow stuff. The second picture is of it now, with all it's batteries and everything fitted.
Thanks for reading. I might yet replace the radio, make a working winch, remote controlled lights, etc. but it will be staying as it is for a bit. If I've done anything wrong concerning the rules of the site, I apologise.
The picture at the top is before the conversion, as is the lpic with the duck.
The pics of it on the pond are new (apart from the one with the duck).
Concerning the cost and time: This project was done as and when I had time, so I'm not sure how long it took. I started working on it about 2 years ago, and left it for quite a while after I got it working about a year or so ago. To do the conversion took less than a week of on-and-off work, so it probably adds up to about a day's worth of work.
As for cost, this (like my other projects), was done on the cheap, using mostly stuff I had. The only parts I bought were the speed controllers (the first was about £30, the second (including motor), was £20. The first one I'll use for something else now), The micro-servo (about £10), the stern tube and prop (about £3) and the batteries (about £10). As it is now, including all the batteries, that makes £43. I allready had the RC gear, and the rest either I was given, had already, or stripped out of an old microwave.
A quick note: I've just noticed that in the top photo eric's missing the rigging and the bow fender. In case anyone's interested, the origeonal bow fender supplied with the kit looked like a false nose, so I politely asked my sister to crotchet a cover for it. She did, so that made it look better (in my opinion).
I had a chance to run it with it's new setup, and get some video. It seemed to work fine. I was running it for 2 hours, and didn't flatten a set of batteries. It had plenty of speed and power, but was still controllable and manoverable at low speed. The range on 27mhz was perfectly good too. The only slight problems I had were top-heaviness, which I temporarily solved using a pebble, and the fact that it seems to have more power going backwards than forewards.
Video: Although I took a fair bit of video, I've only uploaded one, as the rest exeed the upload limit. I haven't got a youtube account, so I can't embed it (I might get one in a bit, but I currently don't). Also, they don't have the LMR logo in them. I forgot about this when I took the videos. I'll try adding it later.