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Kayak Outrigger Project

(Mark Langille) #1

New project in the works to build a set of outriggers for a kayak using the T200 motors. Seen a few other mentions of using the T200 in kayak and similar setups. Just in the planning stage now so any advice or ideas would be appreciated.

Main items to work out are:

  • Simple to use wired controller with speed and forward/reverse control
  • Best battery setup. Thinking of using 18V Ryobi drill batteries to keep the setup simple to use and recharge and more user friendly and portable.

Design wise something similar to this. Will be fiberglass pods for outriggers with T200 mounted on bottom.

Fishing Kayak Project(s)
(Rusty) #2

Mark, cool project. I like the idea of mounting the thrusters on outriggers. That will give you a strong steering force as well if you’d like to steer with the thrusters.

From a few reports we’ve received, I think two T200s should have a kayak going at 3-4 mph at least. Kayaks are pretty sleek and low drag.

I’m excited to see how this progresses!

(Mark Langille) #3

Has anyone come up with a good self contained analog/manual control solution?

I’ve seen a few posts with the arduino code for the joystick so may look to go that route. Need something simple and waterproof that can give simple motor control with independent control for turning capabilities.

If not I’ll see what I can pull together based on the info to date. I’d like to have something clean and simple self contained, an all in one controller box basically.

(Kevin) #4

You’re looking good starting with a kayak. You’ll have plenty of room for batteries and equipment. From reading what you want to do with the control box, this is intended to be manned?

I concur with Rusty that you should see 3-4 mph with 2x T200s.

I don’t have much of an idea about the control architecture, but I’d be interested to see what you come up with.

(Mark Langille) #5

Yes this will be manned. Basically an alternative to using a trolling motor or similar but a much cleaner more integrated design that can easily be attached and removed from a kayak or canoe for propulsion. Thinking of it in terms of a commercialized design, needs to be clean, simple, idiot proof :slight_smile:

(Mark Langille) #6

For batteries thinking of using the Ryobi ONE+ Lion. They are 5S so in a nice sweet spot for the T200 voltage wise from 21V to about 15V. Makes it easy for an end user to recharge and has the built in low voltage protection etc. Probably setup to take two at a time. Make a custom 3D printed mounting system they can snap into.


(Mark Langille) #7

For a simple control setup I’m thinking maybe a momentary 4 way waterproof joystick switch setup feeding unto Ardunio. And just run at max rpm all the time. Basically same idea as the BL sample Ardunio code but all for skid steering with the left/right inputs= and simple forward back.

(Jacob) #8

That joystick switch looks like it could work quite well, though you will only have all/or nothing control over the speed of the motors. To adjust the speed, you would need a joystick with analog output. Or a knob, or slider or lever. If you use one of those, try to find one with a detented center to make it easier to stop the motors. The most bare-bones you could get would be to use a servo tester to control the motors, but I haven’t seen any with a detented center.

(Mark Langille) #9

Yes it would be all or nothing speed wise. Although adding a 3 way switch for a off, med, high setting would be simple enough and then just set the PWM accordingly. Would make a simple way to arm and give some control. I suspect you’ll need mostly full RPM most of the time anyway on something this size, no real meed for fine throttle control.

(undersearobotics.com) #10

I’ve got one of these joysticks laying around waiting for some future mini controller project. Might work for what you want to do.

(Adam) #11


I would recommend adding a soft start to the Arduino program operating the thruster ESCs. Going directly from neutral to full throttle is quite stressful on the thrusters, and a bit of a ramp will go a long way towards extending their life. About a half a second of ramping from neutral to full throttle should be plenty.


(Mark Langille) #12

Thanks, that is what is was originally looking for but couldn’t find the short 2 axis ones. I’ll see what I can source for those to try.

(Mark Langille) #13

Adam I was thinking that as well to add some ramping to smooth out the rpm increase. Since it will be all done through an arduino anyway it should be easy enough to handle in code.

(undersearobotics.com) #14

I don’t know if you can order from Allied Electronics, but they have a very good selection of industrial quality joysticks:


Here is one that we use when designing custom hand controllers for ROV operations:


(Mark Langille) #15

Thanks. I’ll probably prototype it with some gear we have on hand then find a final solution once the proof of concept works.

(Mark Langille) #16

General question regarding optimal depth of the T200 thrusters to prevent cavitation at the surface. Anyone done any testing on how much below the surface is optimal?

Trying to keep the motors as shallow as possible below the pontoons but low enough to maximize the thrust.

(Mark Langille) #17

Prototyping of the pontoon outriggers underway…

(Mark Langille) #18

New deck mounts and BR components on the way, hopefully in hand by Friday. It is slowly coming together.

Ryobi battery adapter prototype printed and ready for wiring and testing:

(Mark Langille) #19

Ryobi battery wired up and testing. May look to go with 2, and run each motor/esc separately for simplicity to avoid issues with unbalanced batteries in parallel. One battery should handle 30A fine based on specs I have seen so far.

(Steve) #20

I built a personal watercraft with four T200s. www.facebook.com/MantarayWatercraft. Early on, I used an IP68 rated thumbstick but eventually designed it out because it was uncomfortable and cost $158. It’s very hard to be steady with a joystick on the water. I used PWM with a port pair and a starboard pair using an Arduino. I started to reverse the opposite side motor after the turning side was +50% and the trailing side throttle was 0%. Using this method, I was able to spin in my own length

Later on, I switched to dual Hall-effect Scooter twist throttles and was much happier. I lost reverse (except for hard turns) but that was fine. I used I2C and loved the data that the BlueESC provided. Now that that interface has been EOL’d, I need to resurrect my old PWM code. I’ll miss having current usage reported so I can calculate remaining battery life (voltage is a bad way to tell).

BTW, I was using two 70AH Lithium batteries (LiFePO4 140AH at 13.2V) and would only get a couple of hours usage. I can’t imagine the Ryobi batteries lasting very long. I hope you have under voltage protection somewhere or you’ll kill your batteries.