PIPE has entered a duck in the Great Brisbane Duck Race. Ordinarily this would be a $5 affair, with our duck competing against 24,999 other ducks in a competition to float merrily down the river. This year, however, there is also a corporate version in which the ducks are larger – about a foot long, and rubber. Also modifications are legal and encouraged.
So we set about thinking how we could do this. After many discussions about the ‘how’ (and a few about the ‘why’) of getting a duck 100m down the river, one of our staff, Chris, realised he had two old RC helicopters at home that didn’t really work so well that could be gutted for parts.
After building a prototype, we had enough of a working proof of concept. After fitting the propellers, it became obvious that they could move a serious amount of water. And the duck could move. Not very far in laundry tub, but move. After cutting the excess metal off to balance it out, it looked a lot better, and after cutting a port-hole and sealing all the electronics inside it, it was ready for the first run in the water, and looked far less monstrous.
Testing it out in a fountain nearby showed that it definitely worked, but has stability issues. Front-mounted skis and a keel were fitted. We were ready for the second round of testing, and looking more professional every minute. We also fitted a wireless camera, hooked up to a video capture card, so it could be piloted using a laptop from a great distance. Now we were ready to test in the water (see video above).
The modifications described in the testing have all been performed, minus the passive stabilisers which turned out to be unnecessary.
Now it’s time to see what it can do against the competition! Thanks to all staff that contributed their time, skills and ideas to this project – it has been a wonderful experience. Everyone has had an opinion on how it could be done and how the problems could be solved.
Special thanks to:
- Jenny-Lee, for organising our entry and managing the event;
- Dale and Matt, for design considerations and technical implementation advice;
- Chris, who actually built the thing; and
- Heather & Sara, for their assistance in building and testing.