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What do I start on RC Sailboat electronics wise?


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So I was pressed by the Admiral to sell my dream car a 1971 beetle.  The car was out of capabilities to repair and she didn't like it sitting around.  She was very generous though in that she told me I could take a portion of the money and get my self something.  I have been wanting to build an rc sail boat for some time but now I finally have some money to throw at it.  I will admit I am one of those crazies that doesn't want to do a T(numeral) kit.  I want to do something I think is a little more fun.  I know it's crazy but so am I.  


What I'm thinking of doing is a simple ship like the Ferret in the book "Story of Sail".  The sails won't be far from a beginners kit type ship just a gaff along with the boom on the mainsail and an extra jib.  I have the plans more or less figured out but I'm not sure what to do as far as electronics.  I know I need servos a receiver and remote but which ones are best?  Where's the best place to get them?  Is there anything I'm missing or should know?       


Thank you for your advice.  

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Dan - I assume when you say you are not interested in a T(numeral) kit you are referring to the Tippecanoe 37. It is currently one of the most popular R/C sailboats out there, approaching 1900 in the US alone. As soon as I get some time I will be posting my build log of mine. But you are really asking about the electronics. So Here goes -



1. Yes you will need a transmitter (the thing you hold in your hand and operate the controls)



2. A receiver - Typically this is a small black box that sits inside your model and receives the instructions from the transmitter. It will have an antennae and slots to plug in your power switch and servos.



3. Batteries - Usually you will have a battery pack that is connected to an on/off switch and then to the receiver.



4. Servos - You will need a min of 2 servos. 1 to operate the rudder and 1 to operate the sail sheets. There are kits out there that use up to 7 different

Those are the basics. If I were at home I would post some pictures for you. Also I have some spare equipment that I might be able to share with you.




Can you tell me more about the boat you plan to build and how you plan to use it? It will help me be more specific in my answers. Like if you are racing you will want to consider digital transmitter and receivers due to limited frequencies.


Attached is a picture of my servo deck inside my T37.


Edited by Floyd Kershner
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Actually that answers a lot of my questions.  Thanks!  Sorry about the T(numeral) I couldn't for the life of me remember what the number was.  I'd have to get pictures of the plans but it's basically the same ship I used to create my ghost ship but with less holes in the sails.   


GS 002


Not sure how well you can see that one but, it has one main mast and two jibs.  I thought about having three servos one on the rudder one on the mainsail and one on the jibs.  Do you think I could do all the sails on one servo?  The certainly would make it easier to some degree.   

Edited by DSiemens
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It is very common to have the sheets for both the jib and the main controled by one servo. It is actually hard for the operator to trim sails if they are not linked. you would have to trim one at a time with the same joy stick. Sort of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. You can do it but why go to the extra effort. Now where you get into a different issue is when you have more than 2 sails. Tacking and jibing all sails can be tricky. On most R/C sailboats the Jib has a boom since at this scale it is hard to keep the jib filled. So if you have both Jib and Stay sail Tacking will be interesting. I have heard of R/C boats that also have a spinnaker but I am not sure how that is rigged. Maybe with a turtle.

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Wow a spinnaker I don't think I'll get that crazy.  I will try putting booms on the jibs.  It makes sens that smaller sails don't react in the same way large ones do. It may not be "correct"  for the ship I'm building but I want the thing to work.  Could probably use some wire in a sleeve at the base of the sail and no one would notice.  

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