Eric, the Tug

(UPDATED!)(kinda) This is Eric, an RC tugboat. The basis of it is was a small static model harbour tug, which I was given from an attic clearout several years ago.  I fitted it out with RC equipment during assembly, and set it up to run with a brushed motor and rather bulky speed controller, off 8 AAAs. Since then, I swapped out the brushed system for a micro brushless setup, and dropped initially to 4 AAAs, then 2 mobile phone batteries, to save weight. The most recent addition has been the addition of an ATTiny to run the lights via remote control, as before they were manually switched using a rotary switch in the funnel. This is still a work in progress, as there is a problem in the code with EEPROM access.

Actually, the whole thing’s a work in progress, really. The superstructure is in need of a re-furb, as the paintwork is rough, and there are mould lines showing through, as it was done when I was substansially younger, and didn’t paper it down enough. I also plan to swap over to 2.4ghz, once I’ve built a transmitter (I’m planning to base it around the Core9x project, but that’s for another page) Yeah; decided that I had too many projects, too little time, and prices were falling too much. When it comes down to it, no project’s ever totally complete; there’s always room for improvement somewhere.

For more information about this, have a look at my LMR page, Here.


So, since it’s been a while since I put this one up; and, as you may expect, some stuff’s happened since. Not a lot, I’ll be honest, but some stuff, nonetheless. Not really progress, as such, but the forerunners of success. And a bit of failiure. Failure is always an option, after all.

so, brief recap;

  • It’s towed a rather big an heavy tanker, very slowly, and in a vaguely controllable way

  • It got reversed over by someone else on the pond, and sank. The lights stayed on, though.

Me, looking stupid with a soggy boat.
  • It got dried out again, and returned to service
  • I ran it once or twice this year, then too it apart a bit, to get some measurements for the BIG UPDGRADE
  • I started design work on the BIG UPDGRADE
  • I got distracted by life, work, and lack of time

BUT, the plan still stands; Hopefully I might get some of it done over the christmas period. So, the BIG UPDGRADE;

  • Strip out most of the current innards
  • Replace the phone batteries with a LiPo pack
  • Swap out the brushless inrunner for a more powerful brushless outrunner
    • Because everyone knows power fixes everything…
    • Also, the outrunner will have greater inertia, which might help balance out the torque roll on takeoff. That’s my excuse, anyway.
  • Upgrade the radio to 2.4ghz
  • Create an active balasting system (basically swing the battery around to keep the boat on an even keel)
  • Upgrade the prop, rudder, and possibly add a nozzle to help boost the pulling power
  • add a small electric winch
  • make a subframe to hold everything in position
    • Probably out of laser-cut plywood
  • Make a sealable hatch (I’ve been sunk once, and I don’t want to try it again
  • Hook up the lights properly, and maybe add to them
  • Sand down & re-paint the model
  • Replace the railings with brass (the standard plastic ones aren’t much cop)
  • Generally up the detail
  • Maybe give it a bit of weathering, tone it down a little.

So, yeah, fairly big list, for someone who’s usually running a little short on free time, but hey; I can be ambitious. I’ll see what of that I can get done, anyhow, and I’ll try and keep this blog updated as I go. Eric shall rise again! (honest)