RC Boat enthusiasts tend to move from pre-made boats to self-made ones. It gives them the freedom to choose between customizations and materials. As challenging as it appears, it is possible to create RC boats yourself, from simple to complex models. If you’re planning on making your own, you must be wondering what you need to make it.
Building an RC boat requires some necessary components and a handy tool set. There are 7 main components needed to create the engine and the vessel. A battery charger and remote controller are required to complete the set. You can choose between BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) kits or building a DIY boat from scratch.
Seeing the kind of RC boats enthusiasts and hobbyists can create is impressive. Based on first impressions, it can seem like a challenging task, but you can build your own RC boat too! This article will summarize all the components needed for an RC boat and weigh the better way for you to make one.
9 Essential Parts You Need To Build Your RC Boat
Whether you’re using a Build Your Own Boat (BYOB) kit or building from scratch, most components and requirements for the process are similar.
Note: Unless you’re personally customizing your boat, it should come out looking and working the same way as any other commercially bought RC boat.
The components mentioned below are what you need to source if you’re going to DIY your RC boat. These parts will already be inside if you’re purchasing a BYOB kit.
Depending on the company and size of the kit, you can choose between a simple or complicated boat model.
For RC boats, parts can be divided into internal and external components. Each piece and its function are explained below:
The central power system in an RC boat is the motor. It is available in two types, brushed and brushless.
See my article for the best RC boat brushless motors and what to consider when buying.
A brushed motor is cheaper but relatively slower. Whereas brushless motors are in different price ranges and provide the most speed.
You should choose your motor based on who will use the boat, where you will use it, and how fast you’d like your boat to go.
See my article: How To Size An RC Boat Motor: A Helpful Guide
The servo is the internal component responsible for balancing and steering the boat.
It is present with the other electronic components inside the hull. The servo works in sync with the transmitter, carrying out the movements.
You can find servos in any shape or size to fit your boat.
3. Rechargeable Batteries
The rechargeable battery is present onboard the RC boat. You should carefully consider what type of battery you should use because each battery has a different performance.
The most common ones used are Ni-MH and Lithium-Polymer batteries. Lithium-Polymer batteries provide consistency throughout the run-time, while Ni-MH ones don’t.
4. Body (Bottom, Hatch, and Hull)
The body of an RC boat includes 3 sections.
The lower half is the bottom area submerged underwater. All the electronic components are contained in the hull region. Lastly, the waterproof top hatch protects the components and shuts the hull.
Note: When deciding on the size of the boat, you should closely consider the measurements for each body part.
The drive system of the boat is the propeller.
The motor provides electrical energy, through which the propeller spins and creates a thrust. Based on the efficiency and force of the thrust, the boat speed is determined.
Propellers come in many blade shapes, materials and sizes. You should buy your propellor based on the total length of the boat and the number of propellers you’ll use.
Check out my article: 2 Prop Or 3 Prop For Your RC Boat? What’s The Difference?
The steering system in the boat is the rudder.
There is only one rudder present on each RC boat. When you change directions on the remote control, it sends the command to the rudder, which moves left and right.
The rudder’s control allows you to maneuver high-speed RC boats without having them flip over.
7. Battery Charger
There are two types of chargers for your RC boat’s battery, a normal and a fast charger.
A standard charger can take up to 5-8 hours to charge your RC boat, while a fast charger can at least cut the time by half.
Note: You should avoid using random changers for your boat, as that can damage the battery. Always keep a check on the charger in case it overheats.
8. Radio System (Transmitter/Receiver)
The radio system is the Radio Frequency (RF) for both the transmitter and receiver. It is responsible for sending the remote control command to the boat.
Note: The older frequencies of 27MHz and 75MHz, have been replaced by 2.4GHz.
By using 2.4GHz, you’ll experience less conflict and interference with other remote controls and radio sources nearby.
9. Remote Controller
A controller is what gives the RC boat commands.
Typically, the controller doesn’t have to be assembled, so it doesn’t count as a component. However, if you’re creating your boat from scratch, you’ll need to buy one and ensure it works on the frequency you need.
Extra Tip: You can also add features such as a battery and range alarms to keep your boat from getting lost.
What You Should Know While Making an RC Boat?
Beyond the RC boat parts and assembly process, there are other things to remember before you start.
Make sure you have all the tools necessary for the building process, know all regulations, and put safety first.
Tools Needed For Assembly of Your RC Boat
Making an RC boat may look complicated, but it is simple if you break it into steps.
If you’re using a BYOB kit, you should read and understand the manual before you start. Make sure to carefully follow each step written.
If you’re doing DIY from scratch, find a simple step-by-step tutorial on youtube to learn from.
Before working on your RC boat, ensure you’re well equipped. Have a workspace, preferably a workbench, to spread your components, tools, and manual. Depending on the complexity of your model, have glue, screwdrivers, pliers, and tape with you.
You could buy a complete toolset (Amazon link), to make your own building kit.
Its also essential to have a selection of of different sized clamps. You will will need these to hold materials after they’ve been stuck together to dry. This clamp set (Amazon link) is ideal.
Rules For Building And Using Your RC Boat
Some official bodies can help teach you what rules and regulations apply to your RC boat. You would have to search for them according to your area or country. However, some regulations are used across the board. You should respect these rules when you choose to take up RC boats as a hobby.
The size requirement, for instance, is universal, and your boat should stay within the 24”-36” limit. Creating a larger boat will limit the areas you can use and make it harder for you to enjoy. Additionally, the size limit is applied because the boat you create shouldn’t be used for passengers, whether animals or humans.
You should ensure that your engine is safe to use. Speed will obviously be a priority when creating your RC boat, but it shouldn’t put you at risk. Make sure you have an appropriate engine for your boat size, couples well with the battery, and has a cooling system. Engine overheating is a potential danger you should be careful about.
There are strict rules regarding Fuel Emissions and Oil or Fuel Leaks. So as an owner of a Gas or Nitro powered RC boat, you should take adequate precautionary steps. Don’t overflow the fuel tanks, and avoid using faulty RC boats.
Due to the environmental threat, most companies consider Electric RC boats safer and prefer to produce them.
Being safe throughout the process must be your priority.
For anyone under 16, adult supervision is advised. Using a BYOB kit is simple, and most are designed for children 14 years and up. It is safe, but inexperienced children can get hurt or make mistakes.
DIY boat projects are only recommended for pros or those with long-term experience with wood, electronics, and building objects.
Be careful when using tools. Avoid substituting simple tools with other gadgets. If your screwdriver works fine, you don’t need to use a drill to work faster.
You should also avoid using random items to get the job done. For example, school craft glue is not a trustable adhesive and shouldn’t be used on internal or external components.
Don’t try to experiment with electric components. Please listen to the safety guidelines mentioned in the manual and avoid using shortcuts. When dealing with batteries, motors, and their wirings, you should use a trusted source to follow. You can ask a technician or electrician for advice or help if it’s too complicated for you.
What’s Better? BYOB Kits vs. DIY
Choosing between BYOB kits or DIYing your boat is your call. If you feel you’re in a position where you can invest so much energy, money, and time into building a boat, you can opt for DIY. However, if you’re newer to the concept of building one yourself or don’t want too much of a hassle, you can buy BYOB kits.
To better understand the two options, the tables below weigh the pros and cons of BYOB kits and DIY.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using BYOB kits:
|All needed components are present in one set.||Limited pieces and styles are available.|
|Complicated parts are premade.||Only repaired by manufacturers.|
|Cheaper compared to other options.||Replacement needed after a few years.|
|Easy to follow guidebook.||Customization is limited, so performance can’t change.|
|Only takes a few hours to assemble.||Few models are child friendly.|
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of doing DIYs from scratch:
|Complete freedom to create the boat you want.||Expensive investment.|
|Variety of materials available to choose from.||Assembling the boat is a long process.|
|Self-repair is possible for any broken parts.||Difficult to catch mistakes until after the boat is complete.|
|Higher durability compared to commercial boats.||Require professional help in certain areas.|
|Further customization is possible to improve the performance later on.||Sourcing needed material is tricky.|
This video gives you a quick run-through of building an RC boat from scratch. After watching, you will have an idea of what you are getting yourself involved in;
It is important to be realistic about the fact that both ways of making your own RC boats have some disadvantages. It is up to you to decide which seems like the easier or more feasible route for you.
The Best RC BYOB Kits
You can find BYOB kits in toy shops, hobby shops, or online. They aren’t very difficult to find. Unless you’re looking for a specific design or model, it should be easy for you to choose a kit based on its difficulty level.
The prices of BYOB kits can significantly vary because they depend on the company and model type.
There are five great options for you to choose from in the list mentioned below, based on your requirements. They are in ascending order based on price levels:
1. Big Swamp Buggy Boat Kit
This is the cheapest Bring Your Own Boat kit on the list.
This 31” boat comes with
- The needed wood for the vessel
- One measured foam tape
- And one sealed hardware bag
- It also comes with assembly instructions.
On the website page, the model clearly lists some hardware meant to be purchased separately. Additionally, the controller and transmitter aren’t in the kit either.
The Big Swamp Buggy Boat Kit is available for $130 at Horizon Hobby.
2. Toys Hobbies ZT Model AB04501
The kit comes with all the necessary components.
The boat is made of plastic and has beginner-level assembly skills required. The max speed mentioned is 25km/h, which is understandable as it comes with a brushed motor.
The only materials you would need outside the kit are batteries for the remote control and glue to stick the boat together.
The Toys Hobbies ZT Model AB04501 is available for $150 on Amazon.
3. Chris-Craft Cobra Boat Kit
A 27” wooden RC boat, the cobra kit is up in price but for a good reason.
The make and model of this boat are phenomenal. Most components are found in the kit with the instructions. The parts which need to be bought separately are mentioned on the website, but namely, they are the speed control, battery, charger, and remote control.
The Chris-Craft Cobra Boat Kit is available for $252 at Horizon Hobby.
This video shows the build of this model, start to finish;
4. ARKMODEL Vosper Torpedo Boat Perkasa
One of the more expensive boats is the Arkmodel Vosper Torpedo Boat. This RC boat is meant for users of 14 years and up.
Most components, except electronic hardware and the controller, come with the kit. The model is made of plastic and can be painted to look however you choose. The kit has a 3D illustrated instructions guide to help you piece it together.
The ARKMODEL Vosper Torpedo Boat Perkasa is available for $368 on Amazon.
See it in action;
5. ARKMODEL PLA Navy Type 056A
The most expensive model on the list, this 36” RC boat is a massive investment.
Similar to other ARKMODEL company boats, it comes with almost all components. Some electronic hardware such as batteries, remote control, and switches are not included. It is a plastic boat and requires glue for assembly.
The ARKMODEL 1/100 PLA Navy Type 056A is available for $498 on Amazon.
See it in action;
Q. Can You Make A RC Boat From Scratch?
Yes, it is possible to completely build your own RC boat. However, it is a complicated and time-consuming process, so only professional-level hobbyists should take up the project. If you don’t want commercially available boats, you can consider buying a boat from a private maker.
Q. How Long Will It Take To Make Your RC Boat?
It depends on what kind of boat you’re creating. If it’s a simple BYOB kit, it could only take 1-2 hours. For more complex models, you can stretch the time according to the number of extra steps. Any DIY boat can take months to create, but it depends on its size and the number of features you’ll add.
Q. Can Someone Inexperienced Build A RC Boat?
If you’re using the BYOB kits, then experience with RC boats is not necessary. You can start with a simple model and eventually work on more complex versions. However, you are responsible for learning about the regulations and safety precautions when building or using RC boats.
Q. Is It Cheaper To DIY A RC Boat?
No, creating an RC boat from scratch is definitely not cheaper. The prices for some BYOB kits can seem crazy, but doing everything yourself requires a much larger monetary investment. If you’re working with a budget, a BYOB kit would be the more economical option for you.
RC boats have many parts which come together to give you a thrilling cruise experience. When you’re creating your own RC boat, it may seem like the list of needed items is endless, but the process can be simplified. Making your own RC boat will be a memorable experience, and you’ll enjoy it more once you get the hang of it!
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