There are two reasons that I choose to make Southern California my home: one, I was born here so I didn’t really have a choice, and two, because I was promised mid-70s and breezy weather year-round. For the most part my hometown delivers on those promises, but for a few months out of the year our idyllic weather turns rather unpleasant by our standards. I know it’s silly to complain about the oppressive heat, all while my contemporaries in the rest of the country would trade their high 90s humidity for our low 80s dry heat any day of the week.
So if like me, you’re currently in an area where the heat is too much for you but not hot enough to complain about on social media, then maybe what you need is a good project to keep you busy. Preferably a project that will lead to more outdoor activities once the weather cools down.
Former power plant engineer and Thingiverse user Michael Christou has a bunch of wonderful 3D printing projects, including an awesome Red Swan 3D printable airplane with a 76 inch wingspan, his DIY Printrbot derivative 3D printer kit Wersybot, and a project that is bound to help cool you off: his Turbo Ice Sled.
While the Turbo Ice Sled is still an experimental project, mainly because Christou hasn’t been able to take it out of the open ice yet, it does work great in his local ice rink. The idea for the sled came to him when he was working on a 3D printable airboat, but he found his first design incompatible to the way an impeller driven boat works. But he found the design was ideal for an ice craft. The ice sled steers similarly to a bobsled, by moving the front skids back and forth, with the rear mounted impeller providing the speed.
The 3D printable impeller that drives the ice sled can reach a thrust of about 215g, and Christou found that the sled works even better than he expected and he only needs to give it a small amount of juice to bring it up to full speed. Thankfully using the skids to bank hard to the right or left can cause it to spin about, acting like an emergency brake. He also added a bumper to the sled because without it any collision with a wall or other obstacle can damage the transmission gear of the servo that works the steering mechanism. You can see the Turbo Ice Sled in action for the first time here:
And here is the view from the Ice Sled thanks to a small camera mounted on top of it:
The basic mechanical parts are the same that you would use in any RC airplane or boat, so anyone who builds their own RC craft should easily be able to source all of the parts for their own ice sled. The most important component is obviously the servo that controls the motion of the steering rudders at the front of the sled. Christou provided us with a list of the electrical parts that he used on his ice sled:
- Transmitter: DX6i Spectrum
- Receiver: Orange DMS2 R615
- Controller: Pulsar Brushles 30A
- Servo: Modelcraft MC-410 Standard
- Battery: S4 Lipo Turningy 850 mAh 25-50C
The skids are just metal plates that can be purchased at any hardware store, that will need to be sharpened in order to work properly. Currently the skids on Christou’s sled are sharpened to an angle of about 30°. However, he isn’t sure that is the ideal angle because the sled can spin out of control if he drives it too fast. His next iteration will attempt to include front skids with less grip and back skids with more grip. He is also going to add more weight to the back of the sled in order to further increase the stability of the craft.
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