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WiFi for Sail

Weekend Project: Make a Summer Splash with this 3D Printed WiFi Paddle Boat

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Jul 22, 2018

Summertime is here, and what better way to spend it then by lounging outside by a refreshing body of water. Take your enjoyment of the outdoors a step further by becoming the captain of your own 3D printed WiFi Paddle Boat, designed by Greg Zumwalt.

When the heat of the summer hits, we all want to flock to the nearest pool or lake to cool off. Just because you’ve decided to get off of the computer and outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t utilize WiFi for some recreational fun. At least that’s what we’ve learned from maker and designer Greg Zumwalt, who recently shared his 3D printed WiFi Paddle Boat on Instructables.

The WiFi Paddle Boat is controlled use WiFi via a smart phone, tablet, or any other touch enabled device. The designer explains that his boat creates a WiFi access point that you can connect directly to. From there, you can navigate the ship from his WiFi Paddle Boat webpage.

This project offers a great way to entertain the kids or even yourself this summer, and is a bit complex but also undeniably awesome. Think you’re up for the challenge? Let’s take a closer look at this project to see whether you’re seaworthy or not!

3D Printed WiFi Paddle Boat: What You Need & How to Build

This is a pretty complex project that requires a wide range of 3D printed parts, components and also some soldering. However, don’t get discouraged, as Zumwalt lays out the entire project in detail on his Instructables page. We’ll give a quick overview of what you need and how to build the WiFi Paddle Boat.

For printing, the designer shares the STL files for three versions: the base model, detailed model and another for those that have a dual extrusion 3D printer. Depending on which model you choose, you’ll need to print anywhere from seven to ten parts. You should also test fit and trim, file, and sand the 3D printed parts prior to assembly. The STL files can be downloaded directly from Instructables.

Here’s the rest of the checklist for this project:

Main Components

Additional Tools

Once you’ve gathered your supplies and printed the parts, it’s time to start the assembly process. The instructions are bit lengthy, so we’ll just spell out the basics for you. After preparing the 3D printed parts for assembly, you’ll have to program the Heltec WiFi Kit 32 board. The WiFi Paddle Boat was written in the Arduino environment for the ESP32 chip, and Zumwalt shares the libraries and everything else you need on the project page.

Next, there’s some wiring required, so you’ll need to have a soldering iron and solder on-hand. The maker shares each step on Instructables, but to give you an idea of the complexity level, here’s a photo of the wiring:

Finally, once the wiring is complete, it’s time to assemble the WiFi Paddle Boat. There are a number of steps to take in order to put everything together, making this project more ideal for seasoned makers. However, if you’re feeling ambitious enough, a determined beginner can also follow along with Zumwalt’s step-by-step instructions. You can find the lengthy assembly process on Instructables, along with detailed photos and videos showcasing how to build and test your 3D printed ship.

License: The text of "Weekend Project: Make a Summer Splash with this 3D Printed WiFi Paddle Boat" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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