I’ve been noodling around with the idea to create a autonomous boat, using BlueRobotics thrusters, of course. Through that I’ve been researching ideas on what and how to make the hull. I thought I would capture those materials and thoughts and design ideas here. Please feel free to critique and add to these ideas. I’d love to hear input from your research and from those that have constructed hulls and can give tips.
The ideas below are some of mine and some already listed here on the forums. I’m thinking mostly catamaran, but capturing all sorts of ideas. Please contribute.
Child Size Kayak :: around 5 or 6 feet in length. Good for a monohull construction. Fairly accessible and low price too.
Kayak Caddy :: http://kayakkaddy.com Could be a cool mono hull or wide catamaran style.
PVC Pipe :: for a catamaran or trimaran, PVC or CPVC could be used. Schedule 40, since it is lighter. I recently came across PVC pipe for HVAC ducting, and that may be a thinner wall. The pipe probably will need painting since PVC will break down in the sun, CPVC won’t. The fittings give all sorts of options for the bow and stern of the pipe (flat cap, 45 degree bend, etc), however it may be not a smooth surface because of the lip of the fittings. Could be inexpensive for some quick testing.
Floats :: using fish/crab trap foam float or buoys is an option. They may have to be rigged into a pontoon of some sorts. There are some 14" x 6" diameter crab trap float I saw on Amazon that others have repurposed as an outrigger for kayaks of canoes. https://www.amazon.com/KUFA-Sports-6x14-Inch-Float-2-Pack/dp/B00HXD4RRO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1470699157&sr=8-4&keywords=crab+trap+float
Foam :: Get the right kind of foam (closed cell) in large blocks or sheet and carve your own hull or pontoon.
Fiberglass or Carbon Fiber :: perhaps an extreme DIY step, but fun in learning none the less. With this option one can craft the hull shape just as they want. It may take a bit of work to do the layers and layup, but the results should look stunning. The mould could be custom made, or maybe it is fiberglass or carbon fiber over the PVC or foam floats.
Canoe or Kayak Outrigger :: As proposed in this forum, there may be some other outrigger or support that are made for canoes and kayaks that could work. I like several options I’ve seen in this area. The best options though seem to be overseas and I haven’t taken the time to look for USA distributors.
Expandacraft :: http://expandacraft.com I came across these some time ago. It looks like various universities have used these. Simple, can be broken down to fit in a car. However the price is a bit much at US$550 for a set.
Aluminum pontoons :: I don’t remember where I saw it, but I did seem some small aluminum pontoons somewhere online. They were in the four foot size.
Sheet goods :: using PVC sheets or wood sheets and constructing the hulls. This also requires various DIY techniques for sealing and ensuring a good float is made.