Design Idea


I am working on a portable USV for search and rescue.  I am trying to figure out a platform to use of a boat.  I was looking at the RC plane floats, but I came across a youth Kayak that I think might work.  The seating area could house the equipment and an outboard motor might work.  What are your thoughts?  Here is the link to the kayak.

I am planning on add a Lowrance Structure scan unit for mapping the bottom of ponds and small lakes.


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  • PHIL,

    I am making a hull for a commercial sounder/transducer and GNSS equipment. The boat is capable of 20kg payload so the heavy transducers and good size batteries can fit. I am fitting it out with vectorable thrusters but fixed thrusters with rudders will also work. Skid/Tank steer works but if you have a cross wind, you will run one thruster at a lower RPM to maintain heading. Vector able trusters or rudders eliminate that issue. Attached are some photos of the plug before painting for moulding. Should have them ready by mid Jan if all goes well. I can make them in Carbon Firbre or Fibreglass. They are about 1.2x0.6m in size.


    • That looks like a good boat.  I thought about making my own also since I am on a budget.  Don't know how, but would be a fun project.

      One of my goals is it needs to be light.  Some of the lake/ponds are in the woods and it (and everything else) will have to be carried.

      I like the (RC plane) pontoon idea since it should be light and easily attached to a backpack frame to be carried.

    • Phil, I understand the weight issue. Being made from Carbon Fibre, the hull weighs around 2-3kg. The biggest weight, excluding my Payload of GNSS & Sounder, is the batteries. What sort of run times are you trying to achieve? I am installing 2x 12V 19Ah LiFePo4 (1.5kg each) as I want hours of use running grids across dams.
  • Hello Phil,

    There are a few examples about.  This one is nice because it shows all of the stages and has the software code included.

    I think the reason that the hull is so deep is that it was originally intended for a catamaran.

    Sit-on kayaks are generally very heavy and so would take a lot of energy to push.  Even a surfboard would work - although you may want to place a keel on it to ensure it goes in a straight line.

    This is a great example too:

    A suggestion would be to write to the authors and ask if you can buy a hull from them.  They already have the molds and it makes sense to have them re-create one rather than you making one from scratch.  Plus they may be able to provide additional advice.

    • I did see the posts.  I did not think about asking about a hull.  Good idea.

  • Hi Phil,

    I have a similar kayak made by Pelican to be used for a USV.  Some issues arose on initial testing, mainly the lack of a keel. Our unit is for very shallow water investigations, so a keel is not an answer.  We tried tank steering with 2 thrusters, but response was slow, probably due to the lack of a keel. Also, it was affected by windage when the equipment box was mounted. I have since gone to a custom catamaran design 60 inches length with a 30 inch beam, and are also looking at a smaller version 30 inch length by 15 inch beam.

    In your case the keel would not be a problem to fit, so the kayak can be useful as a platform.  For rescue, it will be useful to take a flotation device to a victim, but stability becomes an issue when you add a sidescan.  Also, for real-time search, you will need to transmit the images back to shore.


    • Thanks Ken, for the notes.

      This is more for search then recovery.  Basically I want to use it to scan the floor, and if I find something then the divers can take over.  I am also looking at a ROV design when the water has ice on it.  I can scan under the ice for the same process.

      Most of the side scan options (Lowrance, Hummingbird, and Garmin) all hook up to the display via Ethernet.  My plan is to use WLAN back to shore to the display.  (Lowrance has a WLAN module)

  • Admin


    Have you looked at my Pontoon RSV project: Link



    • I have, great project.  I have read all the comments and I am basing my plans off of it.  I saw the Kayak and thought it would be good too.

      Where did you find the Pontoons?


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