The Open Source Outboard

by makeshift_, published

The Open Source Outboard by makeshift_ May 17, 2017


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8072Views 954Downloads Found in R/C Vehicles



The Open Source Outboard is a 3d printable outboard motor for rc watercraft. It is an original design that was developed as part of a larger effort of making an radio controlled fishing boat, a lofty goal. If you are going to shoot into the sky, at least aim for a star. That’s what mama always said.

View the Github Page for more information!


This is an adult toy and it should be used with caution. It has a blade that can spin very fast, held together with plastic threads extruded by your printer. I don’t trust my printer to make a shelf bracket that would hang above my head. So I do not EVER run this out of the water. One has not jettisoned yet, but it is a demonstrated possibility. PLEASE BE SAFE!


Open Source Outboard - Version 1 - Testing
[Single Motor Steering System - Version ALPHA - Build Log]
Open Source Outboard - Version 1 - Design Review
Open Source Outboard - Version 1 - Build Log
Dual Motor Steering System - Version ALPHA - Build Log

Bill of Materials

I'm linking to Amazon because it is fast and convenient. There are better prices to be found. I'm also linking to Accugroup because I like their selection and the hardware has been great quality. I live in the states and they are in the uk, but its worth the wait in my opinion. I only use stainless/torx type because dealing with a stripped screw in plastic is frustrating to put it politely.

Open Source Outboard

Single Motor Steering System

Dual Motor Steering System

Print Settings

Needs to be printed with a filament that has little shrinkage. I use PET-G, ABS is an option. PLA may not work, I haven't tried it however. These settings are required, because the design has dimensions that are multiples of that line width. This means all the parts can be printed at the same time. It also means, that if you find your hardware does not fit well (screws should slide through with little resistance, nuts should drop in nut traps but hold when being threaded) you can adjust the scale of the entire assembly. All the parts will fit together still and the hardware hole should change. This could affect the way the slicer plans the print, so check the layers for gaps before printing. Gaps in the walls is bad.

  • .4mm nozzle
  • .4mm line width
  • .4mm wall thickness
  • 100% infill
  • No supports
  • .2mm layer height or better
More Info

Github Page

Print Settings




Doesn't Matter








This requires a .4mm nozzle and these settings below.

.4mm line width
.4mm wall thickness

I have only tested it at .2mm layer height. Up to the adventurous to try it at a higher resolution.

The walls are built around a .4mm line width, so the walls range from 0.8mm (2 lines thick) to 1.8mm thick. If the wall thickness is set larger Cura would leave an empty cavity in the walls.


Clean up and preparation

Clean off any loose filament strands. Ream out axle hole in bottom of midsection - it has 2 layers at the ceiling to improve the bridging. Nothing should require much fiddling to get to fit.

How I Designed This


I learned Fusion 360, then started building. I made a couple other versions before this, and added the things up that I learned and this is what I got.

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I am going to show this project to my chapter of the AOMCI. (Antique Outboard Motor Club International) And see if those guys still think 3D printers are silly. A large number of these guys are into models. The boats and the antique electric motors for them. Lets see what they say about making new motors? :)

You sir are a genius!

Why thank you kind sir!

No problem and thanks for the reply. I have a scout troop that's going to build a few of these,
so anything i can do to help let me know. Thanks for the updated link, will grab these today and
start printing.

I updated this thingiverse page. Take note that the carbon fiber rods have been replaced with stainless steel rods (videos show carbon fiber rods). The rods need to have a recess cut into the end to accept the gears.

It is awesome that you are building these! Anything I can do to help, let me know. I think the build is pretty simple, so given good prints these should be easy to make.

Are the files uploaded here the latest versions?

I just finished printing them all and noticed the comments, getting ready to order motors
and build. Thanks!

The latest version is available at the link below. I haven't worked on it much because it really hasn't caught on like I thought it would. Though I do plan to experiment with a larger version soon.


I'll try to move the project over here soon.


Very nice work!
Have added this to my collection and will have a crack at it when I get time.

Thanks for sharing!!

Thanks Lekkybits!,
There is a new version that has many improvements. I will probably update this page soon. I'm just perturbed about having to keep all these different 3d sites up to date. Hard enough keeping one up to date when I'm testing it constantly.


to fix the cavitating problem try making the motors drive shaft longer to put it further in the water

Nice work! Been waiting for someone to come out with a 3D printed outboard!

Comments deleted.

congrats for this project. I'm not into RC boats myself but that's kind of projects that makes the 3D printing tech moving forward. By the way, there are some 3d printed DC motors out there :)

Thanks Gilles31! I appreciate the feedback. Check back this weekend, I'll be release V1 Final and I'm super excited about it. I feel I've nixed most of the issues and it performs like a real outboard motor now!

i will be printing this soon for a current project , what will help is adding a cavitation plate just above the prop an extends out past the prop an it will also help keep the prop submerged .

Also, any additional suggestions are welcome! I'm just kinda winging it really.

Thanks bigmike34! I recently figured that out.. one of those lightbulb moments where I said.. "ohhh.. that is what that is for". I would wait before printing this. I have made some big improvements and will be posting an updated build log when I figure out this current problem I am working on :D.

Coming soon..

  1. New gears - no glue required. no more slipping.
  2. anti-ventilation plate (as you mentioned)
  3. improved profile to channel water around the motor better.
  4. increased length of midsection - at high speed the water was going below the prop line. Now it is not.
  5. stronger clips. i broke one during normal operation so I upgraded them.
  6. printable prop. It is bigger and has a slightly less steep profile than the original one.
  7. simplified the bill of materials. 3mm rod and 3mm bearings are no longer required. uses all 4mm now. I'll explain why in the build log.

and more small changes. I'll try to get everything updated by the weekend. I'm excited that you will be printing this! Please let me know how it goes.

I have updated the gears to 3d printed versions, which changed the ratio to 1:1 and the 2s lipo put the boat on a plane! That was awesome to see. 3s lipo test tonight.

I think two of these with counterrotating props is the logical next step :)

this is awesome :O i been looking at picking up a old outboard engine model to turn into a rc engine but this might be the way to go :) love the work bud

Thanks DCH! I was wondering if anyone noticed it :D I have more updates coming. I updated the gears and was able to figure out how to get them to stay put on the rods. I lengthened the midsection to get it to cavitate less. Which worked. But still some cavitation that is seriously reducing thrust. I think I found the solution, printing out a test piece now.

After that I need to figure out the right motor/esc combo to get the best efficiency out it. I'm thinking of maybe just getting a motor that goes as fast as possible and see what happens. I don't know much about dc motors, but from what I have read, if I go up in speed I go down in torque. I don't think this needs that much torque - the bearings make it roll smooth; the water has all the resistance.

If you have any advice, it would be really helpful.