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Articles / Workshop / Build Your Own 550 RC Jetski Model

Build Your Own 550 RC Jetski Model

15 January 2021
Article Build Your Own 550 RC Jetski Model
I have a confession to make. I am struggling to become an adult at 48 years old and as a long term 550 rider I have always wanted to make my own 550 RC Model Jetski. We have all seen the old models sold in their time, but I wanted this model to be mine. Modern build techniques, modern electronics and I wanted everyone to also have the gratification I had of making it.

This project has been in the making for multiple years, but it wasn’t until Covid-19 hit that I had the time to invest heavily in designing, testing and building what I feel is an iconic model. Yes, before we go any further you too can have one of these, but you will need to build it yourself. This type of project can’t be sold nor mass produced (well without becoming Mattel). Read on to find out how you can build your own 550 RC Model Jetski.

550 RC Jetski Model - Jetski Army Patron

The first step was to create the model and having many 550 hulls floating around made the job easier. I wanted the model to be as close to the original as possible as this was my plan to ensure it floats and works like the real thing. I don’t know if you have any CAD experience, but it is not easy to pull out the tape measure and start modelling. There are new modern ways to get you started. I chose photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry is the technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of imagery. Basically I took hundreds of strategically angled photos of the real ski that then using specialised software converted that into a model shape that then formed a basic 3D shape for my CAD drawing.

Once I had the basic shape I started the tedious task of building up the model, printing off prototypes, comparing it to the real thing, making adjustments and designing a 3D printing support structure that’s easy to remove with least post processing as possible. This involved many, many hours of reading and learning from the community and to create a scalable model I could 3D print as fast as possible. Printing of the complete 1 piece model takes 4-5 days and I used PETG plastic for its strength and water/chemical proof characteristics.

550 RC Jetski Model - Jetski Army Patron

Once the model was built I then needed to think about mounting the hardware. How would it fit? How would it effect the balance of the ski? How will I get it all together? What hardware would I use and where would I source it from? As you would imagine mid Covid-19 shipping was ridiculously slow so every time I tried new hardware there was a months’ worth of waiting for the parts to arrive. Very frustrating.

Eventually I found the right hardware and incorporated the “Keel” into the ski to not only handle the large powerplant, but to also assist with buoyancy and stopping the ski flipping over. The pump I used was a 22mm hole turbo water thruster jet pump with a 26mm Propeller and 2860 KV3400 Brushless Motor. A 90Amp marine 3-6s ESC was used as the controller.

550 RC Jetski Model - Jetski Army Patron

Once all the hardware was in, I learnt that the 3D printed model was not as waterproof as hoped and small gaps required filling. With the first prototype I chose to first coat the hull, hood and pole in a clear epoxy resin (this has now started me on a second prototype tangent of a thin fibreglass layer on the hull for added strength). All this takes time and eventually after spray bogging, undercoating and painting I was ready for the Decals.

550 RC Jetski Model - Jetski Army Patron

Having design capabilities from my real job I was able to reproduce an iconic decal design and print them from home using waterproof stickers. Once the stickers were scaled I stuck them on and gave the ski a coat of clear.
I was now ready for a water test. Few adjustments and a tube of 1211 I was pleased to see it floats and actually works! The ski sits in the water just like the real thing. The steering works well and the water cooling system is perfect. In fact when water shoots from the pisser I get goosebumps. This thing is a ¼ scaled 550 RC Jetski Model! So cool.

Future enhancements of this project include the fibreglass hull idea, a rider that either automatically responds to cornering or manually adjusted by the controller, larger power plant and other decal kits oh plus a more realistic pole and rider.

Overall I am very happy with the final prototype and will be continuing to enhance the project over the coming months/years.

550 RC Jetski Model - Jetski Army Patron

Now, where do I buy one I hear? Unfortunately how do you put a price on this? Way to many hours printing, painting and not to mention it weighs 4 ½ pounds (2 KG) so shipping would be horrific and probably take 3 months to get anywhere…

So I decided to give this away for free to Jetski Army Patrons. Simply become a Patron for $3 per month and Jetski Army will share all the files, manuals, decals and provide a support community to help you with your build. I hear you say “I don’t have access to a 3D printer” well there are companies all over the globe that will print one off models for you and I bet you have a friend who will take up the challenge with our help.

If this is you join as a Patron now and start building your very own 550 RC Model Jetski now. It’s well worth it.



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