fast human powered paddlewheel?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by dazzlebean, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. dazzlebean
    Joined: Jan 2013
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    Location: Ohio

    dazzlebean New Member

    Hello! Once a year people come to race cardboard boats in the Ohio river. I always do the paddlewheeler heat. Last year we thought extending my paddles would work (we just put plexiglass on the ends to extend) but it just made it slower. This year I wanna make a new boat. Does anyone know of a good design of a human powered boat? Any tips on making the boat faster and easy to control would be appreciated :)
  2. kerosene
    Joined: Jul 2006
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    kerosene Senior Member

    tell us more about the rules - what are the constraints and what do typical boats look like?

    propeller or kayak paddle will give you better performance than paddle wheel.
  3. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    We had a dedicated human power guru on this forum for a long time Rick Willoughy - and there are lots of threads about human powered boats with his and a lot of other usefull posts.

    Paddlewheelers used to hold speed records for human powered boats a few years ago, but now its all down to prop based multihulls.

    I personally saw ricks pedal powered boat in action, and it was really quick.
  4. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    If you want to go faster, you have to increase relative float speed, which means the wheel has to get bigger in diameter, not increase float area (which gives more power, not speed).

    For a fixed power like you have, you first have to decide how fast you want to go (Va) and how fast you want to turn the wheel (omega..radians/sec). Generally, 1.2*Va = omega*r, where r is the radius of the wheel at the center of the float. So then thrust, T, equals 0.2*1/2*rho*0.04*Va*A where rho is the mass density of water (1.990 slugs/ft^3) and A is the submerged area of the float/s. Torque, Q, is then T*r and therefore minimum power required is Q*omega/550 for hp. On the flip side, T is your thrust at Va so therefore, the maximum drag the boat can have at Va is identically to T.
  5. dazzlebean
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    dazzlebean New Member

    Kerosene, the paddlewheelers mechanical stuff can be made with anything, but the rest can only be paint duct tape and cardboard. They can look like anything. I can't use a kayak paddle if I do the paddlewheel heat.
  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    As an engineer I have been responsible for the design and construction of many human powered vehicles, including assisting designing the bicycles used in the Olympics by the US team. And what is best is entirely depending on the rules and your skills. Simple for build-and-race type events is almost always the best way to go. If you can build ahead of time where the time to build is not part of your score gives you a lot more flexibility.

    I would suggest a catamaran type hull and use a prop rather than a paddle wheel. but building two hulls and a frame is going to be more time consuming than a monohull boat. Paddles wheels are very inefficient and heavy. A kayak paddle is far better because of simplicity and efficiency as well. But either of these options depends on the rules.

    Tell us more about the rules please
  7. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

  8. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    You could pump up the volume and go Full Hamster.

  9. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    So, you're staying in the paddle wheel heat?

    What, exactly, are the rules for this year, not last year?

    Do you have any footage of past races?

    The fastest design thus far is a hydrofoil called the DECAVITATOR.

    Have you seen it?

    What is your budget both monetarily and chronologically?

    What did your boat look like last year?

    Do you have a picture?

    When is the race?
  10. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member


    That is too funny.

    Too bad he's getting swamped by the photo boat!
  11. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Michaels picture is proof that humans are enormously creative and ingenious. It also suggests that we may be nuts, especially so with boaty types. Let a good time be had by all. :)
    DogCavalry likes this.
  12. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

  13. Leo Lazauskas
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    Leo Lazauskas Senior Member

    I agree, Petros. Bob Clifford (owner of Incat at the time) won the 1st solar
    boat challenge in a cat. Another interesting boat was a fairly slender dinghy
    filled with the maximum number of batteries. The operator of that vessel (a
    former navy commander) added a canoe stern to eliminate the transom and
    won his category easily. So, yes, keep it simple and light!
  14. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Some ideas here perhaps


  15. KJL38
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Location: Tasmania

    KJL38 Senior Member

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