Austerity RC Combat (currency savings are the rule)

Discussion in 'General' started by Astrosaint, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    Greetings from a newbie model boat builder:
    As part of the fine tuning of school curriculum process, many schools have a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) committee. Their function is to advise school boards, principals, and other stakeholders on how to upgrade science, math, vocational, and other classes to meet the evolving skill requirements that confront today's students.
    Some schools have topics like robotic classes and model rocket/Space Technology classes as part of a curriculum for middle and high schools. My particular district has a Combat Robotic class in 2 of the schools. However, the robots can get to be very expensive (especially as the number of kilograms climbs). I was going to proposed a modified RC Combat ship as a less expensive alturnative to the list of robotic clubs.
    After some research, I quickly abandoned the stock kits from BC and Strike. One kit exceeds the cost of some larger combat and non-combat robots. The kit prices were even reaching the point where I could send a student to the annual Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) competition near Washington DC (about a $1,000). That type of budget would not work for a school.
    I myself have visited the BC production plant in Sanford, FLA. It is amazing how they build BB cannons ! I bought one cannon and plan to buy a second. To house them, I am building 2 ships. One is based on the British armored cruiser Black Prince/Terror and the other will have a superstructure that mimics the Flower Corvette class.
    The fixed costs are being kept low. The cannon kit with regulator and gas bottle is about $150. The Radio set is a 2 channel from Tower Hobbies for $50.00. This gives me port, starboard, forward, and fire the gun. Items like the prop shaft and other parts are small cost items ($20 or less).
    The hulls were inspired by another model boater who used tongue depresser/craft sticks to build a few fishing tug models. At about $3.50 for a case of 300, I can build 2-3 hulls 60 centimeters long by 12 centimeters beam and about 10 centimeters in height. Add another $10 can get you assorted balsa or poplar a bag and wood glue. Dollar tree tissue paper and aircraft dope takes care of waterproofing and $.50 acrylic covered with polyurathane takes care of the finish. Some of the items are hard to price. I use chipsticks for masts qnd scrap PVC for a barbette.
    When I am done, I have a ship that somewhat resembles the Flower class Corvette with some variations allowed for superstructure (from US Civil War ironclad to dreadnought era) for about $250. This is about 1/3 the cost of a Strike Models South Carolina/Michigan model. This is less costly than the AIA TARC student event in Washington and the price would be about the cost of robots. It is within reason for a school budget with about 25 advance shop students. Best of all, the advanced shop student can take the boat home with them at year's end.
    As for rules and clubs, sadly, BC made an accurate observation. They noted that what I am trying is outside the norms of RC Warship combat and they could be only of limited assistance due to the specialization of their kits. I responded by noting that I am marrying different technologies in a new way. As for lettered clubs like IRCC or whatever, I was told they would not be of much help. They adhere to "the rules". Reading past posts about "ship crews teams, old 1:150 scale boats, silkspan thicknesses, rudder sizes, approvals for certain warship designs, etc., "adherance" may be a bit mild of a word. To me, your "rules" are a cost overrun neither I and my students or school can afford. I like fine scale craftsmanship. It is nice to see it. I admire it. It just that, from a education standpoint, they are unnecessary and impractical.
    As an educator, I hope to get some vocational use out of this hobby. May the hobby survive the economic winds that may yet come.

    A.
     
  2. GregMcFadden

    GregMcFadden Facilitator RCWC Staff

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    Seriously check out the hobbyking transmitters for low cost. far more bang for the buck than towerhobbies.
     
  3. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    The rules dont make it cost 600$ for a ship. I'd wager I can build a scale warship such as a PDN or heavy cruiser with guns for 250$. Look at Tugboat's Cheapest point of Entry / Edgar Quinet thread. Youre talking about advanced shop students building boats with popsicle sticks? That sounds like middle school art. Advanced shop students can cut ribs and build a proper hull I'm sure, unless advanced doesnt mean what it used to. You can build with cheap plywood and build several ships with it.

    You seem to be looking at the kits and assuming we all build from 600+ $ kits. We dont all. Buying a fiberglass hull and precut kit pieces speeds things up, but is by no means required. Build the hull and super yourself and you save 100-200$ right there. Don't reinvent the wheel and design a whole new thing when you dont have to. Teach them to build a ship from plans and you teach them more skills than teaching them to build a 'ship looking thing' from popsicle sticks. I do not see how teaching kids to build something correctly is impractical or unnecesarry. If anything teaching them to take shortcuts to achieve 'good enough' is a disservice to them.

    Again, consult Tugboat's thread, I would strongly urge you to consider that a starting point for your course. Your students would learn a lot more I believe than from your currently stated plan.
     
  4. KeriMorgret

    KeriMorgret Facilitator RCWC Staff Vendor

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    Tugboat's thread that Nick mentioned is at http://rcnavalcombat.com/Forum/tabid/58/aff/566/aft/441667/afv/topic/Default.aspx. I'd second Nick's suggestion of the plywood and ribs. There's lots of STEM in reading ship plans, sizing them appropriately, understanding what a hull plan looks like and why it's so funny looking, etc. There's opportunity for CAD work if students want to take superstructure plans and model them and then use a CNC for cutting out superstructure parts, or running a laser cutter, or even just making a wood pattern and cutting out deck parts along the pattern (I really don't know what type of equipment your shop has).

    If you have a link to or pictures of the hulls made out of the tongue depressors, maybe that would help give us a better idea of what you have in mind. I do think that building up from rib plans is doable and could really benefit the students. Kotori87 or Gascan, would love your commentary in here. You both have built some great ships from scratch without the benefit of a big budget or lots of resources.
     
  5. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    When I hear advanced shop students, I'm thinking 'wow, they have access to a nice lathe, maybe a milling machine'. The poorly funded school system here in rural Georgia has a 3D printer for the advanced technology students. With gear like that and some knowledgeable guidance, hell, you could make your own valves, props, and other fiddly bits!

    The biggest cost items on these ships are the regulator and CO2 bottle, and the guns.

    One 4' x 8' sheet of 1/4" sand pine plywood is under $10 at Lowe's or Home Despot. That's enough plywood to make 3 or 4 Edgar Quinets. Thicker than I would use for building a Flower class corvette or an Orfey.

    If you can list the shop machines that your students will have access to, we can help you better.
     
  6. mike5334

    mike5334 Well-Known Member

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    The beauty of building outside of a rule set such as MWC, IRCWWC, Treaty, etc. is the freedom to pretty much build anything in any manner with any material that works. Costs can be kept lower by building only what is needed to teach a specific set of skills such as the ones mentioned above. Cannons are not even needed really if the goal is to build a ship. Some of the hardware could even be shared, such as a few radio sets that can be moved from ship to ship versus a radio for each ship. Scale details can be relaxed since they would not significantly add to building goals.

    With that said, if the goal of this post was to bash the costs of this hobby ... don't. Trying to compare these combat ships to a low cost school project is apples and oranges. The rules are different and so are the goals.
    Also keep in mind that BC and Strike are operating at the lowest cost they can. They know the only way to grow the hobby is to keep the cost down. Even so, they still have to at least break even.

    If the goal of this post is to solicit help to reduce costs for teaching students, then welcome and let’s see what suggestions come out.
     
  7. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    While the shop kids do not have a wood lathe, they do have a CAD/CAM device that is often used to carved out shapes from solid plastic blocks. One project is for the students to create a set of chess pieces. One student did a set of alphbet blocks for his recently arrived sister. The device can due superstructure pieces like the fancy funnels on the Iron Duke dreadnaught and even (gasp !) turrets.
    I am still doing Research and Development work on the hulls. Craft sticks do work as long as the hull geometry is basic--a rectangular prism with a "cone" bow and a "boattail" at the stern. Photos, when I get those developed, will provide a better detail. Sanding blocks do wonders in shaping craft sticks.
    I may modify my initial price. A price a student boat at $300 with cannon, regulator, and co2 tank (I can get a motor equivilent to a 550 for $4.50 at surplus). If I pulled the gun parts out, the price drops. The RC control become the fixed priced item.
    A
     
  8. KeriMorgret

    KeriMorgret Facilitator RCWC Staff Vendor

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    Do you have any pictures yet of the test hull?
     
  9. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    Greetings from Florida:
    I have built an experimental hull from tongue depressor with some balsa and covered is with dollar tree tissue soaked in aircraft dope (one layer). I hae since painted it and floated the vessel on the lake for 30 minutes. I had no leaks.
    I have images of the vessel but I was not sure about how to upload them.
    A
     
  10. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    Supplimental:
    I have uploaded images but I am not sure they are viewable. I did see on under my fleet.
    A
     
  11. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    Greetings From Astatula, FLA.

    Well, I did it. My pictures are posted for review on the site.

    A
     
  12. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    Will help you out and get them onto the thread...

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  13. wrenow

    wrenow RIP

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    Sorry, I am more in line, I believe, with others on this subject. The plans are readily available, and the students would learn more building to a set of plans, methinks. The cost of materials in building a wooden hull from scratch is not high. A few ideas to get your costs down:
    I am going in the direction of Big Gun rules because it appears you may have already read Small/Fast Gun rules. The scale is similar but, on cost, there are cost advantages and disadvantages in Big Gun. The biggest cost disadvantage is the cost of the turrets, if you purchase them. If you make your own, not a problem (and a good project for advanced shop - a beginner in our club just got a lathe and mill and has produced 3 turrets on his own).

    1) there is no "unit"system in Big Gun - the parameters of the ship are whatever the original prototype ship had as recorded in Conway's All the Worl'd Fighting, which serves as your "shopping catalog." Ships for the period. Rudders, etc. are pretty much what is shown on the plans. The students can peruse the history books for the type of ship that best fits their fighting style, or that they want to resurrect to "fight again."

    2) if you use Big Gun rules, you can throw in single-shot (1/4" ball bearing gun) torpedo tubes (if the ship had them) that are relatively cheap and easy to build. You can even build a "torp cruiser" with single shot torp guns, and you do not need the whole CO2 and regulator system. You can pressurize it with an inexpensive pump.

    3) the speeds are generally lower, meaning smaller, cheaper, motors, smaller guage cheaper, wire, smaller capacity cheaper ESCs, less battery capacity required, again cheaper.

    One of the big advantages in building a legal Big Gun or Small/Fast Gun ship is that you can then enter them in sanctioned competitions later on (or as a class).

    As for "all the rules" - remember that many of those rules are safety related and have been in development since the 1970s or thereabouts to make the competition both fun, relatively fair, and safe.

    And, as already mentioned, there are some radios like the Flysky CT6 www.hobbypartz.com/79p-ct6b-r6b-radiosystem.html which will serve your purpose well and provide for more things to control. For one more in line with Tower's prices for a 2 channel, you can even get the relatively nice www.hobbypartz.com/79p-t6-6ch-radio-lcd.html which has a built-in programming interface. Over $100 spent gets you free shipping from that dealer.
    I do recommend more than 2 channels, or you will be backing up or stopping when you fire.:(
    Anyway, just my .02, ymmv,
    Cheers and good luck (I would love to get something like that started with our local high school),
     
  14. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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  15. mike5334

    mike5334 Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know, no one in r/c naval combat planks using toothpicks to pin the planks in place. Usually, superglue works very well to glue planks onto ribs and is rather quick to do.

    Perhaps you might want to look through some of the wooden hull builds in the warship builds section to see how it is usually done.
    Additionally, Florida has many battlers in it. There is no specific "club" in Florida ... or anywhere else really. Model Warship Combat is truely a national hobby with people hailing from all corners of the USA.
     
  16. wrenow

    wrenow RIP

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    Yep, I have never seen anyone pin planks with toothpicks except perhaps in scale galleons.
    Perhaps you are misunderstanding "turrets". In Big Gun the turret is the gun system. There is no interrupter as in Small/Fast Guns - they work on a wholly different principal. If you can machine the turrets (and some other bits I could suggest in the gun system, then the gun cost goes down to not much more than the cost of materials. I beliefe what your are calling "turrets" is simply the "turret cover."
    As for the time, I have seen a Big Gun ship built (using a fiberglass hull and with turrets in hand) in 3 days, though this is not the norm.
    I have seen a fleet of cargo ships built in a few days from plain plywood and plans (a couple of weekends). A Kormoran, for instance, is a nice German transport with largely a big square hull (except the bow and stern) that can be fairly heavily armed. A relatively simple build (since the keel is flat, you just use a flat piece of plywood for the keel). For Big Gun, a couple of 500TD motors (the fat, short Tamaya Solar Motor is this model) can often be ad for a buck or less, and would do fine for a transport of that size or less, and draw less than 1A each at stall. The 550 you mentioned draws about 86A at full stall (yes, that is not a typo, 550s at stall draw nearly 90 amps!). Anything over a geared down 380 (aks Speed 400) or even the inexpensive 280 are probably overkill for your use, unless you really want high speed.
    If you use your CNC to do the more complex bows and sterns, cut out the ribs, keel, caprail, etc. Assembling it all with CA and then slapping a coat of epoxy on and you are pretty much done, ready for skinning with balsa. The first one will take some time to get right. But with a CNC machine, the next dozen become pretty easy kits that you can gradually improve. Or, use what you learn to start another class of ship.
    You mention space being taken up wih ribs. Most of the plywood ribbed ships I have built that have a solid plywood bottom only have around 1/4"-1/2" (builder preference - usuallythicker around corners) of thickness on either side, so you do not lose much interior volume.
    The differences in the formats are discussed at length on this forum in other areas and an overview is provided here: ntxbg.org/articles/servo20051rcmw.pdf if that helps. Strike Models sells plans for the turrets and torpedo systems, by the way.
    Cheers,
     
  17. Kotori87

    Kotori87 Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations on launching your first ship. That is a lot further than most people get, and it shows how serious you are about this.There is, however, definitely room for improvement. I can understand why you avoided the complex curved shapes of real, historical warships. But in the modeling world, you can still get a good-looking ship without the complexities and difficulties of a super-accurate hull shape. One of the finest examples of this that I know of is the Lindberg Blue Devil destroyer. The Blue Devil is a wildly popular large-scale kit of a Fletcher-class destroyer. What most people don't know is that its hull shape only matches the top and side profile. The ribs are all simple shapes, consisting of a rectangle with rounded corners. Near the front, the sides taper in. Near the back, the bottom rises up and the radius of the rounded corners is reduced. That's all it is. The fact is the Blue Devil destroyer is an absurdly simple slab-sided model that would be extremely easy to replicate using wood. Very few people ever realize that the real ship doesn't look like that, and I have seen a number of those kits in glass cases at famous museums.

    Now obviously the Blue Devil kit itself is not suitable for your project, nor is the Fletcher class destroyer. But the basic idea, a good-looking hull that is still simple to produce, is great. You can apply the same hull-simplification technique to your project. Just take the deck outline and the keel outline, and that tells you the maximum height and width of your ribs. Then draw flat sides and a flat bottom, and finish off by rounding out the corners. The hull design itself is easily done in CAD, and probably would make a good project. The end result will be a fairly good-looking hull, with flat sides and bottom that are very easy to sheet with balsa wood. The rounded corners are slightly more complex, but you don't actually need to plank those. Just insert some balsa wood into the gaps, then sand to shape. This hull-simplification technique can work with a wide variety of hulls, from destroyers and cruisers up to battleships and even oddballs like monitors, predreadnoughts, and square-rigged sailing ships.
     
  18. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    Ok, you seem pretty set on doing this your way and in your belief that our way is too complex, expensive, etc. So I'm going to talk about your creation there, and what you want to do with it.

    Looking at your pictures, I see what appears to be a vaguely ship-like box. It looks to be 95% comprised of tongue depressors, butted up against each-other and connected to their neighbors at their ends via segments of 1/4" balsa sticks. You've covered this whole assemblage in doped tissue paper to seal it. I see one cross member at the top that appears to be a balsa block glued to either side of your hull.

    Time for a reality check.

    I don't see any provision for 'windows' in the hull to cover with balsa, to me that means you intend to simply shoot at your tongue depressor hull. One of two things will happen here. 1) the bbs will bounce off (not very likely) or 2) they will shatter your hull into many small pieces (much more likely!) This is a bit of a problem. Our hobby foundation is pretty much that our ships are ultra-reusable. We have an initial cost but after that maintenance is low. We don't make a habit of actually destroying ships. Repeat: Your hull pictured here will not likely stand up to even 50 bbs impacting it.

    Your hull has no skeleton. You made a box. It floats, it will probably even sail once you plunk a motor in there and hang a rudder and prop below it (which is where I am assuming you're going to put them, since it doesn't look like you made any provision for them at the stern). Here's the problem though, all your hulls strength is in the sides. You cant pick this thing up full of water from that crossmember. If another ship rams this thing at any sort of speed, you run a real risk of just crumpling, there is no real strength at the top. On our ships the subdeck is usually a continuous piece that adds strength and rigidity. Yours is little bits of balsa glued to the sides that the deck happens to sit on.

    As noted earlier, it looks like you intend to hang your prop and probably rudder beneath the hull. This isnt a very great plan, esp with novice captains. Most of our props and rudders sit such that if the hull will clear the bottom of the pond, so will the running gear. It cuts way down on damage that way.

    In summary, I am very concerned that your disdain for our methods and desire to do this on the cheap is causing you to spend a lot of time and energy fabricating something that will not survive for a sortie, and will result in you searching the bottom of your pond for the expensive internal bits of your boat after the hull shatters into many small pieces and dumps them.


    I again would urge you to reconsider building a ship properly if you want to battle with it. Before your class begins convert a set of plans into nice templates (Strike Models actually sells 1/144 template sets for a few ships already I believe). Rip some 1/4" plywood down to ship-size and distribute the templates to your students and let them loose on the bandsaws and scroll saws and sanders. In a few days they will have all their pieces cut out, they can assemble them, glue them up. They can build a ship in your class, and it'll be a ship they can take home, be proud of and will be durable.
     
  19. Astrosaint

    Astrosaint Active Member

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    Noting Rear Admiral Nick's comments:

    I have been fiddling with a few model boat hull for the last 12 months or so. My first one was simply "build something that float and can move under its own power and steer". USS Armstrong is the 4th in a series of experimental ships.

    That boat, the Garden State, has many wonders and warts but it WORKS ! I still use it out from time to time (complete with a warped bow and a port list that I have to spend time ballesting to correct).

    That vessel has the ribs (poorly spaced) and the tooth picks holding plank onto it.

    I have been building up knowledge from the ground up on a "hands on" type of fashion. I have no guide book on this subject.

    I do appreciate the suggestions. I am picking up ideas as I read the feedback.

    Combat, while an option, is not the primary goal. I am trying to get a group of youngsters whose lives have been dominated by video games of sea going ships and get their hands dirty building ship models that move in the real world..

    A
     
  20. Panzer

    Panzer Iron Dog Shipwerks and CiderHaus Admiral (Supporter)

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    "Combat, while an option, is not the primary goal. I am trying to get a group of youngsters whose lives have been dominated by video games of sea going ships and get their hands dirty building ship models that move in the real world.. "

    Sounds like a great idea! My thought would be to present "Ship plans"(there is a boatload of plans available for free on the web and Here) to the the students and let them choose from a variety of plans and see what they come up with! Let their creativity and ingenuity decide how they choose to build them rather than presenting them with some tongue depressers and have them build a floating box that sort of resembles something.