AquaCraft Alligator Tours Airboat

 

I've been interested in RC airboats since the mid 80s.  They've been offered as kits, some people have scratch built their own, and some have offered a Ready To Run (RTR) version.  The RTRs have usually been built by fellow enthusiasts, rather than a commercial product line you'd find at a hobby store.  That was then.

Now AquaCraft is offering their Alligator Tours Airboat.  Available online, or even in local hobby shops.  Going price is $269.  It truly is ready to run.  Just add batteries and fuel.  You'll need to supply your own field box (battery, starter, etc).  This thing is a bargain! 

A couple of pics from the manufacturer's website

 

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My Pics

As purchased from my local hobby shop.

A peek inside the box.  The motor is already installed.

Comes with a decal sheet.  You can choose red or green graphics.

The prop guard is more than decorative.

A look at the bow.  The wooden stand was also included.

The stern.  Note the exhaust on the left side.

Nice little details, like the keepers on the control horns.

Lightweight fiberglass hull.  Has a foam core, so no worries of it sinking.

 

The Maiden Voyage

 

I've been out of the hobby for a while, so I had to buy new gear.  I couldn't find a pre-built fieldbox, and many of the kits are flimsy, so I found a used one locally.  Added my own hardware, good to go.

The park we first went to had a million kids playing soccer, and the banks had a lot of grass out into the water.  Fine for the airboat, but when it dies out on the water, the electric recovery boat wouldn't work.  Oh, if you're going to leave your electric recovery boat in the water, make sure it's close to the shore.  I drifted the airboat right into it - BAM!  Oops.  Knocked the lid off the electric boat (held on with Velcro), but the airboat took some damage.

I thought the fuel tank base was plastic.  Turns out it's wood.

All 4 legs had sheered.

Look closely at the skinny legs that support the tank mount.

Very little surface area on the uprights.

I cut the uprights off, and sanded the mating surfaces.  Now the skinny legs are gone, making the fuel tank sit about 1/2" lower (better stability), and making the tank support stronger.  I put a fillet of epoxy on all the inside joints.

Finished.

Still looks stock, but if you compare it with the photos at the top of the page, the top of the tank mount is about even with the middle of the seat.  Rather than paint areas of the chipped wood, I used a black Sharpe to make it match.

 

The Decals Finally Applied

 

Decals applied, ready to go again.

I didn't apply all the available decals, didn't want it looking too cheesy!

 

GoPro RC Hero Onboard Video Camera

The videos on this webpage were recorded with a GoPro RC Hero video camera.  They were then uploaded to YouTube.  The quality is slightly diminished online vs. the raw video files from the recorder.  It records directly to an SD memory card.  With free firmware on their website, the camera can be updated to use 4GB memory cards, which is almost 2 hours of video.  It will also record single or time lapse 5MP still shots.

Available at Tower Hobbies for $174.  Wait for their $20 off email offers (purchases over $150).  Free shipping, no tax.  Final price $154.

It includes a waterproof housing, rated at 100'.  It's also impact resistant, and has a replaceable optical lens in case it gets damaged.  The included mounting pads use a 3M VHB (Very High Bond) adhesive.  Sticks securely to most surfaces.  Optional mounts are also available (helmet, wrist, chest, suction cup, etc).  The buttons can still be operated with the camera in the case.  Can even take it diving!

This camera has a 170 degree field of view.  I set it off center to view the rudder action while running.  Its lightweight made no difference in the handling of the boat.

It also records audio.  The audio level can be set to HI for normal use.  Set it to LO to record in loud environments without complete audio distortion.

 

Ar, me boat has a new Captain...

 

He's a little undersized, but couldn't find the exact sized Homer Simpson for the job.

He's taped in place, and I later added a tie-wrap to strap him to the seat.

 

Expect to see a lot more airboat pictures & videos shortly...

 


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Last updated 10/26/09    All rights reserved.