Boat Blog – let’s get moving!

Right, I have a tendency to over plan.  Which is no bad thing except that my projects often take a long time to get off the ground – if they ever do.  Well with this project I thought that I would just dive straight(ish) in.  At the start of this project I had no idea how Remote Controllers work and I thought that the best way to learn would be the buy a basic set-up and play around with it.  Hopefully I can hack-it and perhaps use it in the final boat – if not never mind.

So I browsed a well known auction web site and brought a basic RC set-up for a boat.  It costs a shade over £30.  What arrived is as shown in the picture below along with a 7.2V Ni-MH battery pack.


Now what I’ve discovered is that there are basically 3 parts, 1) Something that transmits instructions (transmitter), 2) Something that receives the instructions (receiver) and finally the 3) The things that drive & steer the boat.

The sophistication of the system is dependent on the number of different instructions that can be sent from the transmitter to control the boat.  In technical language the transmitter has a certain degree of freedom, i.e. 2 buttons are 2 doF, and these a assigned to a channel on the receiver.

So let’s take a closer look at the transmitter.


There are 2 joysticks – one goes up-down and one goes left to right.  Aside from the on-off switch there are a number of other plastic tabs that appear to be sliding switches.  I was a bit perplexed as they didn’t seem to move.  Taking the back off it can be seen that oddly they don’t actually move or do anything.  They are only for ornamentation!


The transmitter uses 8 no. AA batteries (so a nominal 12V) and transmits at 40.680 Mhz – a standard frequency in the UK.

.The receiver has 1) An antennae, 2) Motors connections 2 no., 3) An on-off switch, 4) Power input.


Playing around with the controls – the up-down joystick controls the speed of both motors.  The left-right joystick varies the relevant motor speed and thus steers the boat.  For example pushing the joystick to the left favors the left motor and steers the boat accordingly.  Importantly therefore the motors must be installed the right way around!

All that now remains to built a boat, take it for a spin and reflect on what we’ve learnt.

Amount spent to date: £30.12


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