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Aquacraft Minimono Brushless Powered 2.4GHz RTR Boat Review

The Minimono is fast and very quick to turn, and yet it handles those quick turns like it was on rails! Warning: Buy two or three battery packs so you won't want to wait before you can run the boat again.

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Introduction

The Minimono
The Minimono
Hull Length:16"
Overall Length:18"
Width:5.5"
Height:3.25"
Weight:10 oz without battery
Run Time:4 to 6 minutes
Speeds:Up to 25 MPH
Transmitter:Tactic TTX240 2.4GHz
Receiver:Tactic TR325
Battery:11.1V 1,000-1,600 mAh Lipo w/Deans Ultra Plug
Motor:2200KV brushless outrunner
ESC:Aquacraft 3S 20 Amp controller
Manufacturer:Aquacraft
Available From:Fine Hobby Stores Every Where
Price:$139.98

I have been running Aquacraft boats for a number of years, and I was honestly excited to see how the new Minimono would operate. I can tell you now that it didn't disappoint me!

Kit Contents

Kit Contains

  • Boat with stand
  • Hull is molded plastic
  • Brushless motor installed
  • Brushless ESC installed
  • 2.4GHz transmitter
  • 2.4GHz receiver
  • Spare propeller and drive shaft
  • Sealing tape
  • Instruction manual












Items Required

Items Required

  • 4 AA Alkaline batteries
  • 1 11.1V 1,000 mAh Lipo battery pack with Deans Ultra Plug
  • Balanced Lipo battery charger
  • Speed grease
  • 1.5mm Hex wrench

Standard Features

Standard Features

  • Surface drive propeller system
  • Water cooled motor mount
  • Music-wire drive shaft
  • Break-away wedge rudder
  • One piece aluminum fin-plates
  • Transom mounted water pickup
  • 1/8" prop shaft
  • Two blade 30mm FRP propeller
  • Transom drain plug

Assembly

The Minimono comes fully assembled, complete with decals applied. I simply installed the four AA Alkaline batteries that I supplied into the transmitter. I charged the battery pack that Aquacraft supplied for this review. I put the supplied Velcro like material on the battery pack matching where the Velcro-like material came already installed in the boat. I was ready to go boating. Before we go boating for the first time, let me review a few features of this boat.

Water Cooled Brushless Outrunner Motor

Type: Brushless Outrunner Motor
ESC connectors: 3.5mm gold plated bullet connectors
Number of cells: 3S Li-Po Battery
Weight: 47 grams
Shaft Diameter: 3.175mm
KV rating: 2200KV
Dimension: 27.5 x 30mm

Type: Brushless Motor Controller
Battery Connections: Male Deans Ultra Plug
Motor Connections: 3.5mm gold plated bullet connectors
BEC: 3 amp max
Weight: .6 ounce
Length: 45mm
Width: 24mm
Height: 9mm
BEC Max Current: 2A
Stutter Bump Warning System: 9.6V
Low Voltage Cutoff: 9V

Aquacraft has long used water to cool the motors of their boats. With older brushed motors they wrapped a coil around the motor, and water ran through the coil to cool the motor. With the inline brushed motor they had a rubbery like jacket around the motor through which the water ran to cool the motor. For the Minimono they have a water cooled heat sink to which the motor is mounted, and running water cools the motor via the heat sink motor mount pictured below. While operating water is forced into a sealed system at the stern of the boat. The faster the motor and boat go the more water/cooling gets forced past the heat sink. After the water runs past the heat sink it is pushed out the side of the boat at the right side middle of the hull. The system has proven to work pretty well in my testing but I have been running in relatively clean water. Pond scum and other debris can block the intake and that should be checked occasionally at the clear plastic intake at the stern of the Minimono.

Keeping the Interior of the Hull and the Electronics Dry.

The water cooling system described above is a contained system that allows water to travel through piping inside the hull but does not allow water to freely run inside the hull. The receiver comes packaged inside a balloon to help keep it dry but that protection only works for a limited of water and is of little value if the inside of the hull gets flooded. The key to protection from the water for the Minimono is the hatch cover and taping it closed. The hatch cover is secured in back with two pins mounted in the back deck that slide into the back of the hatch cover. The front of the hatch cover is secured in place with a little plastic hatch cover lock. When in place the hatch cover will protect the inside of the hull from much of the water spray entering but by itself will not stop the water if the boat flips over or gets to an angle where the side of the hatch cover is under water. To truly keep water out of the hull it is best to tape the hatch shut. This is always important and should always be done before operating the boat. The tape is applied after connecting the battery pack to the ESC. It is the last thing I do before operating my Minimono.

Boating

Powering Up

1) Turn on the transmitter

  • 2) Plug the Lipo battery into the ESC: SOUND: Bee-daa-beep-beep
  • 3) Squeeze the transmitter trigger fully: SOUND Beep-beep
  • 4) Release the throttle trigger: SOUND: Beep-beep-beep
  • 5) Re-install the hatch cover
  • 6) Secure the hatch cover with tape to keep interior dry
  • 7) Minimono is ready to operate!

The Size of the Boat

I have stated the size of the boat as having a hull length of 16" and a height of 3.25." But a picture of my Father-in-Law and my wife with the boat will give you a good idea of the size of the boat.

Boating

The basics are pretty simple. Squeeze the trigger and the boat goes forward. Turn the steering wheel and the boat turns. Make a straight run away from you in open water. If the boat goes straight you are good to go. If it veered to the left or the right you need to make an adjustment to the transmitter. The steering trim dial is on the upper left front of the transmitter. Adjust that dial until the boat runs straight when there is no steering input. The dial beneath that is the the throttle trim dial and they recommend the dial be set at 2:00 so that the motor is off when the throttle trigger isn't being squeezed. To the right of that dial is the steering rate dial. This dial controls how responsive the steering is to the turning of the steering wheel. A little adjustment here can make a big difference. I strongly recommend that you set this where you feel the most comfortable operating your Minimono. If letting a beginner operate your boat I recommend setting it to the least responsive end of the dial, especially for a child.

The next item for consideration is whether or not your boat is running smoothly at all speeds or is it porpoising? Porpoising is when the boat bounces up and down when running and if it happens it is usually at the higher speeds. If the boat is running level great! Don't do anything to screw that up. However, if it is bouncing you can adjust the two trim plates on the stern of the boat. The instructions identify them clearly. They are inside the turn fins and angled to match the bottom of the hull. The plates can be bent up or down but make the adjustments small ones and as equal as possible on both sides initially. Be careful not to bend them too far down as that creates more drag and can be harmful to the power system. The key is to make small adjustments to get the boat to track without porpoising. My Minimono's trim plates have needed no adjustment.

With the boat running away from you at speed make a right turn and then come back and do it again making a left turn. Did you notice a difference? If not try it a few more times. I noticed that my Minimono makes better right turns just as my SuperVee 27 does. This is due to the motor's rotation and torque. Right turns go better. Accordingly when racing boats I race from right to left the opposite of Nascar. Even if you never plan to race you can make your most impressive turns to the right to show off your boat and your skill. Again the faster you are going and the sharper the turn the more you are likely to spot the difference.

The Break-Away Wedge Rudder and Obstructions

In the first video below I was running the Minimono on the Delta here in Central California a block from my house. Right now the Delta is choked in places with the floating Hyacinths. Even in places where it appears to be open water there is often part of a hyacinth floating like a mine just beneath the surface of the water. I have dislodged the rudder several times by hitting part of an unseen plant. When the rudder has been dislodged on my boat it will not turn to the left, only to the right on standard trim. By adjusting the steering trim dial I was able to get a little left turn to steer the boat back to the dock. The rudder has thus far always snapped back into place and worked properly. One day it happening so often I though it might be popping out on sharp turns but I was wrong. The Delta had a lot of debris just under the surface and the rudder was operating properly. It did not pop out once in several days of operation on the Tualatin River in Oregon with full speed operation and sharp turns as seen in video three below.

It is easy for a small obstruction to snag at the back of the Minimono and a small leaf or piece of floating debris can really slow down the boat. The cleaner the water the better the boating.

Handling

It takes about 20 feet of operation with the throttle fully engaged to go from start to high speed. You can see and hear the difference when it kicks into high speed and I estimate the top speed to be about 25 mph straight out of the box (Just my best estimate.). But being small it makes it seem even faster. I was expecting her to be fast with the brushless motor, ESC and the 3-cell Lipo. What surprised me was how fast she can turn and yet stay in the water, at least when the water is smooth. (I have not yet run in rough water with the Minimono.) I slowly tightened my turns at full speed until I was turning her as tightly as she would turn and thus far she has stayed in the water without flipping. We didn't catch my sharpest turns on video, but there are some pretty sharp turns that show she turns quickly and keeps tracking in the water.

Maintenance

After every session with the boat make sure the boat is dry, especially on the interior. The Minimono has a drain plug in the stern to let out water if necessary. I find paper towels and/or rags to be very helpful with my boats. Next I recommend lubricating the drive shaft after a day of operation. To do this use a 1.5mm Hex wrench to loosen the set screws holding the drive cable to the motor coupler as shown in the instruction manual. Slip the drive shaft out of the boat at the back and wipe off any grease or water on the shaft. Apply a small amount of the GrimRacer speed grease to the shaft and slide the cable back into the boat and secure to the motor coupler leaving about a 1/16" gap between the front of the drive dog and the back of the brass tube. Follow the instructions for tightening the motor coupler. Do this after every session to enjoy your boat for years to come. The grease helps to keep the inside of the boat dry as water can come in via the brass stuffing tube.

Performance Tuning

There are instructions in the manual about performance tuning and while I haven't done these yet for my Minimono; I have previously done them for my SuperVee 27 and these small things do make a difference. Remember the smaller the boat (such as the Minimono) the smaller the adjustments need to be made for big results.

SHARPENING THE TURNING FINS

As thin as the turning fins are they do create drag and sharpening the leading edge with a file or with a Dremel type drill with sanding wheel can help you squeeze a little more speed out of your boat. Of course it also makes the turning fins more dangerous for your hands and body parts so if you do this remember to handle with care.

ADJUSTING THE STRUT

Kids, don't try this one at home! This is for the advanced competitors. I only recommend this be done once you are very familiar with your boat and how it handles. you can bend the strut up or down but only to the left not to the right. These small bends have to be done carefully so read the instruction manual before you try it. I hurt the performance of my first SuperVee 27 when I tried this and did it wrong but bending it back my boat returned to its original performance. Bending up is suppose to remove load from the prop and bending it down increases the load.

SCUFFING THE BOTTOM OF THE HULL

I have played with scuffing the bottom of my SuperVee27s with some fine grit on the back 1/3 of the bottom of the hull it seemed to help them ride on top of the water better once they planed and perhaps made them a little faster. I have seen a boat with too much scuffing and it it did the opposite and slowed the boat down and made handling on turns more difficult according to that boat's operator.

I will not be bending the strut (shaft tubing) but I will sharpen the turning fins. I thought I would very lightly scuff up the back 1/3 bottom of my Minimono's hull. As it can be fun to make adjustments and see if you can improve the performance of your boat. However, I have proven in the past I can damage my boat's performance by not really knowing what I was doing. Since my boat is tracking so well in the water I will not be scuffing up the hull any time soon. I can say from experience that any adjustments should be small and if any improvement is noted than stop there!

Is This For a Beginner?

Aquacraft has a statement that their products are to be used by those age 14 and over. With that understanding then the Minimono can certainly be used by a beginner. I strongly recommend they learn how to operate the boat and how the boat handles before they race the boat even if the race is imaginary. I do not recommend younger children operate the boat without hands on adult supervision. The boat is too fast and if they have a problem or crash they might do the wrong thing to try and recover the boat. For the true beginner I still recommend the Aquacraft Reef Racer as a great first boat.

Boating Video/Photo Gallery













Downloads

Conclusion

Nothing to assemble! She runs great right out of the box! Very fast for her size! Turns like she is on rails. My only request would be for Aquacraft to sell her in different color schemes so friends can buy them in different colors to tell them apart for racing. I range tested her to a little more than 100 yards away and had complete control of the Minimono. Now I just need a couple friends to each get one and we have another class of boat to race with each other.

Pluses

  • Affordable
  • Comes RTR (Ready to Run)
  • Fast right out of the box
  • Handles very well

Minuses

  • Only being sold in one color scheme

I want to thank Dick Andersen, Rupert Fixott and my wife Star for helping with the Media for this review. My thanks to Aquacraft for supplying the model and battery pack for this review and my editor, Angela, for her assistance with this article.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Nov 08, 2011 at 09:01 AM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 08, 2011, 02:25 PM
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Mike-A's Avatar
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Great review! Might have to get one!
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 03:46 PM
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United States, MN, North Mankato
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Yeah!
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Ireland
Joined Apr 2001
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motor cooling?

I could be wrong but is a small alu tube tie-raped to a plate that only contacts the mounting bolts a effective cooling "system"?

Would moving that tube to the motor side of the mount and flattening it a bit to increase contact surface (and use cooling paste?) not be a better solution.

Not to mention replacing it with a copper tube and mounting plate and then soldering it to the plate.

anyway i could be wrong its just this looks cheap.
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 04:20 PM
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It is and it works!
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 04:24 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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The cooling system only needs to be effective enough to keep the motor from getting hot. While I ran the boat in October during some mid 80 degree days the water was a lot cooler than that. The motor was never at all hot to the touch. I won't be running in any type of "warm" water until next summer. Maybe someone with access to warm water can test it and report back to us. I have no concern about over heating from what I have experienced in my outings. The water in Oregon was definitely cool to the touch. Mike H
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 04:46 PM
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If anyone wants to upgrade this motor's cooling, it's not difficult.

I used:

K&S Brass sheet (can't remember the thickness, but thicker is better.)

K&S brass tube, about 1/8".

K&S tubing bender, corresponding size of course.

Soldering equipment (flux, solder, 140W Weller)

Thermal conductive paste, to improve heat transfer between the motor and the new cooler.







This is not in the same boat, but I'm sure you can do something similar to fit.

Good luck!

- Mike
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 05:44 PM
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What boat is it?
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Old Nov 08, 2011, 07:19 PM
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This was in a Robbe RAC 400 Eco that I overpowered this summer. I lost the motor due to an ESC failure, but it ran cool up until that point. Here's the build thread if you're interested, long winded but fun:

http://www.rumrunnerracing.com/fefor...ad.php?t=31554

FYI it's a great Eco class hull if you keep it around 500-600 watts.... above that, I haven't figured it out yet!
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Old Nov 09, 2011, 10:02 AM
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review

I read your posting nothernmike. I wonder if Artic ice from Radio Shack i use for the fets on esc before i lay aluminuum cooling down would also do the trick. BTW, i have a 5 v fan sucking air thru a 1520kv in one boat and with your inventiveness, should be a winter. Fan runs off the rx. Just woundering.
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Old Nov 09, 2011, 10:59 AM
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I doubt the fan will help much. The volume of air inside the boat will be a few liters at most, and the fan will only transfer the motor heat to this air. If you have openings for air from the outside to enter and exit, it will cool better - but then, water can get in, too.

Regarding "Artic Ice", if you meant Arctic Silver then yes - same kind of stuff. Radio Shack lists it for $6.99.



If you are really curious, you can use a temperature logging device, like from Eagle Tree or similar. I have inputs for battery and motor temperature on my Schulze ESC but have not hooked them up yet.

You can use an infrared thermometer to check the temperature after the run, but of course logging under load is the best possible metric.

The best way to keep your motor from overheating, though, is not to put too great a load on it - that means a reasonable propeller size and pitch.

If it is a low-resistance motor like these little outrunners, though, you will create some heat anyway.

I found my motor generated a lot of heat without the cooling, but this was with a 29mm diameter / 29mm pitch prop, and a little less with a 27mm diameter / 34mm pitch one.

However - that boat has a submerged prop! This "Mini Mono" is surface drive.

I was emptying 2200mAh 45C packs in about 4-5 minutes.

I would be interested to know how this boat runs on INrunner motors. I have found and heard as well that the torque from the bell of outrunners can cause stability issues - if and when the boat rolls sideways off a wave, the momentum of the bell tends to keep it rolling!
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Last edited by northernmike; Nov 09, 2011 at 02:39 PM.
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Old Nov 09, 2011, 11:47 AM
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review

Go to page 2 and look up upgrading og mini arowana or prince and look for post # 9 by Pompbled with a line typed under a motor and read his post. Jan Pompbled is a GURU in boating world. I pick up alot of his info and he's dead on 99 3/4% of the time if info people give isn't vague. BTW, outrunner motors have worked out great with no torque roll what so ever. No need to reply, ok!
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Old Nov 09, 2011, 02:29 PM
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Guys I had a look at a Mini Mono in the box at my local hobby shop about an hour ago.

Nice product! For a first boat, this would be a hoot. For the size and weight of it, the cooling should probably be more than adequate. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise.

If one starts experimenting with props and begins overloading the motor, I stand behind my little brass assembly as a quick and effective way to add cooling to an outrunner.

As for outrunners and the physics of momentum, that's another topic - it may be that the effects are different with submerged drive boats too. But let's leave that be.

If this were my boat to hop up, I think I'd try a Mega 16/15/2 and an X430, and a 60A controller.

Mr. Heer, or others with experience running this boat - what kind of chop can it realistically handle in stock form?

It isn't self-righting, is it?

Finally I must say kudos to Aquacraft for bringing a piano wire drive to the masses in this hull. This is a huge step forward. It could use some bearings, but nonetheless, nice to see.
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Last edited by northernmike; Nov 09, 2011 at 02:42 PM.
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Old Nov 09, 2011, 02:52 PM
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Have not yet had a chance to run it in chop. Maybe someone else can report that has. Mike H
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Old Nov 10, 2011, 10:03 AM
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What is "speed grease" ?
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