Can anyone point me in the direction of books or plans for making small
model boats, either electric or sail, point + shoot or r/c, suitable for
an 11 year old without a lot of tools or previous experience? Our local
model shop is mostly full of big boys' toys costing £00s. Oh yes, did I
say I want stuff he can build on a budget of 2/6d :-)
And any resources for supplies? Mail/internet order?
I have some ideas based on what I did when I was a kid, but I think it
would help if he had plans with clear instructions so he can make stuff
when I'm not around.
I'm also interested in electronic 'makes' he could have a go at (not for
r/c for models - that's probably a bit ambitious yet!). He has made an
audio oscillator from one kit but it just said connect this component
here to that one there without even a cct diagram (had to trace that out
myself to find out what was going wrong when it didn't work). Something
that explains how the circuits work as well as showing how to make them
would be good.
Boats and plans are from here. But simplicity does not really go with
As for the electronics what you want is one of those boxed electronics
kit things. A rectangular box with all the componenents on a board
inside and a large book with "experiments" to make. Some of them got
very sophisticated. Last one I saw was from Tandy and amused my kids
(and me for years). Sadly Tandy are defunct.
On 4 Nov 2004 10:47:55 GMT, email@example.com (Andrew
I agree. I did the same, although largely off my own bat.
I had previously had one of the electronics kits (a Philips one,
IIRC), and did get a lot out of it. It's amazing how many different
things could be made out of three transistors and a handful of Rs and
Cs and a ferrite rod antenna. The circuits were explained reasonably
When my son was young (about 11 as I remember), we bought him a boxed
electronics kit and the style was certainly different. There were
well over a hundred components, some being ICs on little modules and
then a plug board to plug them in. The designs were contrived so
that you couldn't really do things wrongly and everything was focussed
on the end result rather than how you got there. He got some use out
of it but didn't remain interested for long because there wasn't
really much learning in it.
I felt it was reminiscent of how Meccano sets have changed. They used
to be a set of parts plus plans and ideas books to make different
things. Nowadays they are marketed as a space rocket etc. and you
get the bits to make that and not a lot else.
I'd orginally started to use a soldering iron doing simple stuff from
about 9, and at 11 was making the kind of things that Andrew describes
- perhaps half a dozen active components and a bunch of passives.
To begin with, I'd use a piece of copper clad PCB and build the
circuits in free air on them, but quite soon migrated to Veroboard
which made a neater job.
I felt that I learned more out of this than with the original kit,
although that wasn't a bad stepping stone. Plus, learning to solder,
and do smallish work with small sidecutters and pliers isn't a bad
skill to learn.
I had one of those Tandy 200-in-1 kits. It was very good. It was the spring
coil type and had plenty of experiments and even tried to explain the
circuits. It had two ICs on it as well, some sort of amplifier which might
have been an op-amp or a small audio amp (i.e. LM386 or something like that)
and a 74LS00. There were about 5 discrete transistors (but a MOSFET would
have extended the range quite a bit) and loads of caps, resistors, diodes,
plus the normal ferrite core, a 7 seg display, some LEDs and other bits.
My favourite "experiment", which I took to primary school at the end of
term, used the crossover switch on the front panel. In position 'A', it
connected the electrodes to an oscillator and allowed frequency to be
adjusted by squeezing. Whilst this was being satisfactorily demonstrated by
a classmate, position 'B' activated a relay oscillator based diode pump that
produced about 80-100V to the same electrodes. It made a really quite evil
buzzing noise from the relay oscillator to do so, which added considerably
to the effect. Much amusement all round.
On Thu, 4 Nov 2004 12:34:41 -0000, "Christian McArdle"
That used to be my regular Sat morning task .. standing in the queue
at Frank Mozers (at Edmonton) with a scruffy list of parts for my next
scratch or ETI project (not many cars had a windscreen wiper delay in
those days!) ;-)
When I was 12 Dad bought me the small 1+1 RC kit (from Teleradio, also
Edmonton) an Enya 35 Marine engine and a 'Sea Commander' kit. I was
building that at home and a 6' Percy Blanford design 'pram dinghy' at
school (I didn't want to make bookends) ;-)
Still got both .. ;-)
Maplins do quite a few 'beginners' soldering electronics kits .. some
of which my daughter made from about 5 years old .. and she still
enjoys doing so at 14 (but get's her ''Goth" jewlery caught in the
soldering iron stand <sigh> ;-)
I gave my train loving Nephew a Maplin 'Steam train noise and steam
whistle simulator" kit for Xmas. I got him to assemble it on Xmas day
and he was "chuffed" (sri .. I'll get me coat) ;-)
You can still get die cut wooden boat kits but the plastic and ply
(working) kits are probably more involving, and give a better /
quicker result (in this instant age).
All the best ..
T i m
p.s. I wonder if you can get insurance to fly control line aeroplanes
these days? And do they still make 'Jetex' engines?
Yes, but the tendency is to limit flying to inside a chainlink fence
"safety barrier". This used to be a somewhat reasonable measure for
single-flyer speed record models, but it's downright unsafe for trying
to fly combat models (two fliers, you try to chop streamers from your
opponent's tail). Combat fliers tend to walk around a bit and don;t
stay on the same spot - it's all to easy to walk the plane into that
Also flying control line pulse-jets (the only ones really worth
bothering with) seems to be uninsurable these days 8-(
No, nor the propellant. But there's still a certain amount of old
stock floating about, and there's a Jetex retro circuit for those who
Magazines - get him a sub to "Model Boats". Most of the model press
have a regular feature of a pull-out plan every couple of issues.
There are also several makers of plans and kits - hopefully Keil-Kraft
are still going, I made several of their balsa and plywood boat kits
when I was a kid.
You'll be needing a lake or pond too. These things are getting hard to
find (although Southport has just built a new one) and they usually
have a crop of resident duffers. I'm sure they could offer advice.
If you're making boats, not planes, then you're less concerned about
weight. Ditching balsa in favour of an English timber like lime (aka
basswood) can add some strength and hugely reduce the timber bill (if
you're near Bristol, you're welcome to a stash).
If you're near Bristol the inland harbour* makes a fair pond substitute
and has a resident model boat club**.
* Walled and closed by lock gates so constant depth and a good mile long
by circa 50 yards wide. Used to host formula power boat racing too.
** plus industrial museum, numerous boating clubs, marina, shipyard....
The uk.d-i-y FAQ is at http://www.diyfaq.org.uk /
Remove NOSPAM from address to email me
If you want to do it on the cheap, your options are limited.
I've introduced a few younger members of my family to modelling by
showing them how to make an electric boat out of cardboard.
You can work out the plan yourself. It's a simple hard-chine hull with
a basic cabin cruiser top ( other forms are easily adapted ). It's a
lot stronger if you can build in a flat card horizontal part along the
point where the chines meet the sides - more or less along the
waterline ( hard to describe, but easy to sketch - except in ascii ).
That gives a second fixing point for the prop tube and rudder tube,
making them mechanically stronger.
The motor is salvaged from an old toy, but you'll probably have to buy
a ready-made propeller and prop shaft. You can make a rudder out of
tin from a can, wire and a bit of metal tube ( biro ? ).
Glue the whole thing with waterproof glue - not PVA. Use epoxy where
the prop shaft and rudder emerge through the hull.
The most important thing is to coat it several times with waterproof
paint ( cellulose is good ). The paint waterproofs and strengthens the
card and it can be surprisingly serviceable.
They can even be radio controlled if you're so inclined. Maybe with a
£10 radio controlled car taken to bits. If it's the sort that has two
wheels differentially driven, build a boat with two propellers a
couple of inches apart. Otherwise, use the steering servo to drive the
rudder and the propulsion motor to drive the prop.
The best bit for kids is that you get comparatively quick results but
haven't invested too much in materials and tools.
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