1/20th scale catamaran model development







The new 1/20th scale model of Solar Navigator is to be fitted with a aluminium spaceframe to replace the current plastic tubing.  This will save around 150 grams and it is hoped, reduce the drag coefficient.


Originally, stainless steel tubing was to be used, but this did not offer the same weight saving, although joining the material was much easier using jewelry grade silver solder and an ordinary plumbers blowlamp.



spaceframe catamaran model boat


Aluminium space frame under construction - 1/20th model



It was not quite so easy to join the aluminium rod.  However, Multicore came to the rescue with a 5% silver, tin/lead solder with a special flux.  This was supplied by RS.  Some alloys of aluminium do not wet easily, or not at all.  Fortunately Multicore's technical expert, Ian Williams, came to the rescue with tips to prepare the surface of the metal for joining.  We are pleased to say we have now managed to complete a test piece which gave a high strength joint.  The secret is not to apply heat directly to the join, which might then burn the flux.


A new drive train consists of 2 Swiss Maxon DC motors, a 2:1 reduction box.  This should provide a respectable performance from 40 solar panels generating close on 20 watts in fine conditions (peak summer).  The Sun Tracker system is to be incorporated in this model to ensure maximum energy collection.


It is hoped the combined technology will allow us to set model speed and endurance records (beat our own records) in the near future as part of our development of the full size vessel.










Planet Solar Utube  & 

Planet Solar docking in Hong Kong






In 1995 it was proposed by our designer that a solar powered boat would be able to circumnavigate the globe using only energy from nature. He displayed the first of his development models at the Earls Court boat show in London into 1996. 


With a boat the most important component on the agenda is the hull. Solar powered boats provide marine architects with new challenges. There are as yet no conventions. Nobody knows what will work best, because so little has been put to the test. We can attest to that because we've tried 5 hull designs to date, improving on each one. Two SWATH designs (one above), two catamarans and a trimaran. The 6th design is not strictly speaking a trimaran, it does though have three hulls; so we're billing it as a trimaran. A hull design like this has not been built to date, to overcome the ever present drag and wave drag dilemma.


The other major challenge is panel design. How do you increase panel area and get as much of it facing the sun when the sun moves relative to the route, and of course keep the boat stable in all seas. We wanted at least 2 kilowatts per ton of vessel mass and can comfortably achieve that.


Not to detract from the incredible achievements of the PlanetSolar team, but the SolarNavigator project aims to improve on the record 0f 585 days set in May 2012 with our brand new design. Our advantage is that we have more than twice the power to weight ratio of the current record holder with a lower drag hull. This needs to be verified before we can go to the construction stage.


This project represents a unique opportunity for any global company with eco friendly ambitions. If this is of interest to you please let Blueplanet Productions know using the contact details below. See the breathtaking video of PlanetSolar below to get a handle on the sort of publicity that Solarnavigator can generate.


On the 4th of May 2012 the theory was proven to be correct by Raphael Domjan and his superb boat the Turanor Planetsolar, thanks to generous sponsorship by Candido Swiss watches and Immosolar, leaders in the field of solar energy management.


Now the benchmark has been set, it will undoubtedly inspire others. As with so many things once a pioneer has shown the way, inevitably, the record stands like mountain to be scaled.








The latest Solarnavigator is a battery electric trimaran with an extremely efficient active hull that runs on solar power. The model shown here is just 150mm long. The radio controlled test model is 2.1 meters in length.




This website is copyright © 1991- 2013 Electrick Publications. All rights reserved. The bird logo and names Solar Navigator and Blueplanet Ecostar are trademarks ™.  The Blueplanet vehicle configuration is registered ®.  All other trademarks hereby acknowledged and please note that this project should not be confused with the Australian: 'World Solar Challenge'™which is a superb road vehicle endurance race from Darwin to Adelaide.

 Max Energy Limited is an educational charity.