This is my fourth iteration of motorizing a fishing kayak. The motivating force behind these projects are mostly related to my desire to “build stuff”. I am a ROF (Retired Old Fart), and projects like these keep me busy and my brain exercised.
My first three designs used standard off the self Minn Kota trolling motors. Most of my designs used the Minn Kota Endura C2, a 30 lbs thrust motor that retails for about $100. I bypassed the stock 5 speed forward/3 speed reverse speed control with a Pololu 18v25 Simple Motor Controller. This PWM motor controller has two main advantages. It provides infinite speed control (fwd/rev) and it is very efficient which means much longer run times over the C2 stock 5 speed forward/3 speed reverse speed control.
I have three functions that I want to control “remotely”. Motor tiller tilt, motor/tiller direction and motor speed. My “remote” control functions are all hardwired. All the control functions use basic programable RC components. I have experimented with wireless remote control but since my kayak is very small, a hardwired solution is much easier and has less “moving parts” to fail. I considered wireless control of my fishing kayak because I wanted to be able to use my kayak remotely to fish, but it turned out that any sort of “unmanned” fishing is illegal in the State of Oregon.
Basic design diagram HERE.
I stumbled on BlueRobotics a few months ago and was intrigued with the T200 Thruster. After reading some of the BlueRobotics thruster applications on “surface vehicles” I thought the T200 might work on my kayak.
Using a handful of ServoCity components I put together a transom mounted setup using the T200 thruster for my kayak. The bottom line is the T200 thruster works great on my kayak.
My concern was the current (battery draw) vs the speed of the kayak. I knew what my Minn Kota C2 setup performed and the T200 thruster design outperformed the C2.
The biggest speed limiting factor with my 10’ NuCanoe Frontier kayak is the hull design of the kayak. I have tried 30 and 40 lbs thrust trolling motors on my kayak and speeds of 3 MPH are a real stretch.
The T200 thruster is rated at about 8 lbs thrust on a 12 VDC system. HERE is a simple graph of current draw vs speed for my latest version using a single T200 thruster. Hopefully, soon I will have similar graphs for a 30 and 40 lbs thrust motors on my kayak.
I have a few things to clean up with is latest design, mostly related to integrating the controls into my current setup.
My next project is to use two T200 thrusters mounted “outrigger” style to propel and steer my kayak, “skid steering”. The mechanical aspects are simple and it appears there is a lot of info related to “skid steering” on this forum. Once I get this project underway, I plan to incorporate an auto-pilot system so I don’t have to make manual adjustments to stay on track. I am sure I will be using a lot of technology from the autonomous USV and Drone world.
HERE are some photos of my T200 thruster setup on my fishing kayak.
I have seen some discussions on this forum related to batteries used with surface vehicles. HERE is some info related to the battery I am using with my kayak. This battery is the only battery I have used with all my designs. Battery data sheet is HERE.
It should be noted that all my designs are for use in freshwater. Salt water application is a whole different issue, to say the least.
There are lots of way to power a fishing kayak that are cheaper than my designs but not nearly as much fun in my humble opinion.