One of the great things about electric boats at this stage in their development is the innovations that ‘regular’ people come up with, like this DIY solar catamaran built by a dad and daughter team.
This one is from Australian high school science teacher Jacob Strickling, as seen on his YouTube Channel Make Science Fun, which is exactly his goal.
As he tells Oz’s Caters news agency, “I have always loved science, I have always loved pulling things apart and finding out how they work. I love building fun stuff for my kids, and often ‘turbo up’ their toys – they might have a little plastic car, but I’ll soup it up with a much bigger motor.”
In this video, Jacob and his daughter Mikalah put together the solar powered catamaran by taking two fibreglass canoes they bought for $50 AUS each, attaching them with boards and an aluminum frame left over from another project (Jacob has dozens!) and strapping on a solar panel, an electric trolling motor and a battery from a mobility scooter.
‘The Nutty Professor’ has also published two books
In addition to his YouTube channel Strickling has also published two books filled with STEM project and experiments for kids: (Amazon links for purchase) Make Science Fun and its successor, Make Science Fun: Experiments. He says on his Linkedin page that “One of my unique aptitudes and strengths is the ability to generate new ideas and projects which inspire others to think scientifically and creatively with a sense of enjoyment.”
Known in Australia as ‘The Real Life Nutty Professor’, he is often asked to appear on the TV to demonstrate science concepts in an entertaining way.
In his most famous (or infamous) appearance, a demonstration with liquid nitrogen and a Coke bottle very nearly turned into catastrophe, with the pop bottle rocket almost hitting Studio 10 host Natarsha Belling in the face. It had enough force to snap a limb off when it smacked into a nearby tree, so the damage to Ms. Belling could have been substantial.
The mechanical engineer obviously has an understanding family in wife Rachel, Mikalah and their three other children Matthew, Esther and Samuel. This solar powered catamaran is not the Strickling family’s only venture into alternative energy and propulsion.
He designed and constructed a passive solar system for his home and developed his own air conditioning system.
Daughter Mikalah has her own video channel
Most of his creations are made using remnants of scrap, discarded machines and appliances or other throwaways. He told Caters “The kids and I will go out on a Thursday night – the night people leave their junk out here in Terrigal – and will just look for stuff we can use to build things with.”
Among the other things he and his children have built are:
- a carnival ride for their back yard made from a toy car and two electric leaf blowers
- a triple leaf blower go kart
- and a triple lawnmower/go kart combo
He has obviously passed along his passion and ingenuity to Mikkalah, who has her own video channel: Invent with Mikki, where she shows off her own electric marine propulsion gizmos like an electric boat built from a bathtub, an electric amphibious vehicle made from a toy car and another electric boat conversion from a pedal boat
Unfortunately, plans are not available for the solar powered catamaran – but if you can get your hands on a couple of kayaks and a trolling motor, you should be able to follow along with the video!