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AquaCraft GP-1 Mini Hydroplane Review

The AquaCraft GP-1 Mini Hydroplane is a step up in fast electric racing boats. This Mini has a water-cooled brushless motor, a water-cooled ESC, and it's LiPo ready! Oh, and did I mention that it's FAST!

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AquaCraft GP-1 Mini 3S Ultra Hydroplane RTR and Rx-R Review

Introduction

AquaCraft GP-1 Mini Ultra Hydroplane
Hull Length:16.4 in (416 mm)
Overall Length:18 in (458 mm)
Width:8.8 in (223 mm)
Height:4 in (102 mm)
Weight:14.4 oz (408 g)
Motor:Brushless Inrunner 2200 kV w/Aluminum Water Jacket
Prop:30 mm FRP Surface Prop
ESC:AquaCraft 30 Amp,3S Lipo Ready, Water Cooled
Servo:Hobbico Mini servo
Transmitter:Tactic TTX240 SLT 2.4GHz (RTR)
Receiver:Tactic TR325 (RTR)
Battery:1000-1200 mAh 3S 11.4V 30C LiPo
Manufacturer:AquaCraft
Available From:Hobbico Dealers
Price RTR:$179.99
Price Rx-R:$139.99

The AquaCraft GP-1 Mini Ultra Hydroplane is proof that good things come in small packages. This little Hydro is reminiscent of the glory years of Unlimited Hydroplane racing where the drivers sat just in from of thundering 16 cylinder Allison racing engines. The GP-1 brings all the excitement of burning alcohol and thundering engines to the present, but with the convenience and reliability of brushless motors and Lithium batteries. In addition, the RTR version even includes a modern 2.4 GHz radio control system.

My previous model Hydroplane racing experience was not very pleasant and it didn't last very long. The surface drive hardware adjustments and 2-stroke engine tuning problems quickly proved too complicated for my patience and too expensive for my budget. On the few occasions that I finally got my old glow powered boat to run, it was actually a lot of fun, and I've been looking for some way to return to that exciting part of the experience for a number of years. This new AquaCraft GP-1 may be just the ticket.

Kit Contents

Kit Contains

  • GP-1 Mini Hydro w/Removable Hatch
  • Boat Stand
  • Tactic Transmitter (RTR)
  • Extra Prop
  • Hatch Tape
  • Extra Rudder O-rings
  • Instruction Manual

Items Required

Items Required

  • 11.1V 1,000 to 1200 mAh LiPo battery pack with Deans Ultra Plug
  • Transmitter and Receiver (Rx-R)
  • Balancing LiPo battery charger
  • 4 AA Alkaline batteries (RTR TX)
  • Speed Grease
  • 2.0 mm Hex wrench

Standard Features

Features

  • Surface drive propeller system
  • Water cooled inrunner brushless motor
  • Music-wire drive shaft
  • Break-away wedge rudder
  • One piece aluminum turn fin
  • Sponson mounted water pickup
  • 1/8 in prop shaft
  • Two blade 30mm FRP propeller
  • Transom drain plug
  • Magnetic hatch hold downs
  • Rubber wrapped RX (RTR)

Motor & ESC Specs

Brushless Motor Specs

kV rating:2200 kV
Operating Current:1.4 Amps No Load
Max Current:28 Amps (15 seconds)
Input Voltage:8 to 11.1 Volts
Resistance:50 mOhms
Dimensions:1.1 in (27.5 mm) x 1.2 in (30 mm)
Weight:2.5 oz (71 g)

Motor Speed Control Specs

Rated Current:30 Amps
Cooling:Water Cooled
Battery Connector:Deans Ultra Plug
Motor Connectors:3.5 mm Bullet Plugs
Wire Guage:14 AWG
Warning Type:9.6 Volt Stutter Bump
Low Voltage CO:9 Volts
BEC Max Current:2 Amps
PWM:8 k Hz
Dimensions:1.8 in (45 mm) x 0.9 in (24 mm) x 0.4 in (9 mm)

Assembly

The 8-page Instruction Manual includes numerous illustrations and pictures and helpful adjustment and driving tips. There really isn't much assembly required for either version, so putting the battery on charge should probably be the first item on the list.

While I was waiting, I took time to smooth out a couple of minor bubbles under one of the decals.

RTR Version

The Ready-to-run model requires 4 AA batteries for the transmitter and a 3S 1000 to 1200 mAh LiPo battery for the boat. The battery hook and loop fastening material is already installed in the hull so all that remains is to install the material to the LiPo battery. This whole process takes less than a minute. Once the battery is fully charged and installed in the hull, the GP-1 is almost ready for the water. Now is a good time to check for proper rudder and throttle operation before installing and taping down the deck. It should be noted that the AquaCraft speed control has a unique arming sequence and the sequence MUST be completed prior to every run. Once the boat battery is plugged in, the ESC goes through an initial arming sequence and then gives a single beep. Squeezing the transmitter throttle trigger to full speed will be rewarded with two beeps. Releasing the throttle to the idle position will result in three beeps. The controller is now armed and the motor will run the next time the throttle is squeezed. The deck is installed by inserting the front edge over the two positioning pins in the hull and then lowering the back until the magnets firmly snap the rear of the deck into place. Securely tape the deck seams with the provided hatch tape, and you are now ready to race.

Rx-R Version

The Receiver ready model requires a minimum 2-channel transmitter and receiver for operation. I used a Tactic TR624 6-channel SLT receiver and a Tactic AnyLink SLT module on my Futaba 8FGA Super transmitter. To protect the electronics, I treated the receiver with a generous soaking of CorrosionX before I installed it in the boat. The receiver mounting area is located in the starboard sponson and the hook and loop fastening material is already installed. Once the receiver is properly positioned, plug the rudder servo into the receiver steering channel and the ESC into the throttle channel.

If you are using a "wheel" type radio, you will need to verify proper steering direction and proper ESC arming operation. Verify ESC arming by turning on the TX, plugging in the boat battery and waiting for the first arming tone. Next fully squeeze the throttle trigger and listen for two tones, then release the trigger and listen for three tones. The motor should now run when you squeeze the trigger. If the ESC does not arm, turn everything off, adjust the throttle trim upward, and try again.

If you choose to use a "stick" radio like the 8FGA Super, I suggest you use the Aileron channel for steering. The low throttle end point will need to be adjusted upward before the ESC can properly arm. To find the proper set point for my transmitter, I turned on the transmitter and plugged in the boat battery with the transmitter throttle at the full idle position. I then slowly increased the low throttle endpoint adjustment a little at a time until I heard the first ESC arming tone. I unplugged the boat, cycled the transmitter off and then back on, and then plugged in the boat battery. I still needed to increase the low end point another 5% before the ESC would reliably arm. My transmitter required the end point to be reduced from 100% to 60% on the low end before the ESC would reliably arm.

Boating

Now comes the fun part!

The Launch

The manual states that you just need to set the boat in the water and be "quite aggressive" on the throttle to overcome any cavitation. I found that I had better luck giving the GP-1 full throttle and a firm push over the top of the water to get it up on step. The standing start method only resulted in the nose digging in and the boat turning into a submarine.

Up on Step and Running

I found that the application of a little right rudder would help get the boat fully up on step once it got out and away from the dock. The GP-1 ran straight and true right out of the box. I didn't need any rudder trim to hold a straight course under full power. The boat is FAST and it can cover a good deal of water in a short period of time. Plan your turns ahead of time and give yourself plenty of room for your first few turns. As noted in the manual, this boat is designed to turn right on a formal race course, so set up your test area accordingly. I found the GP-1 could turn left, but waves seemed to tip it a lot easier in a left turn. I also found that reducing the throttle a little in the turns helped keep the boat upright. I had to be careful and not reduce the power too much though, because the little hydro would slow too much and drop off plane.

Run Time

The ESC has a Low Voltage Cutoff safety feature that will stutter bump the motor when the battery has reached a critical low voltage level. However, I prefer to set a timer for 5 minutes and time my runs so that I never reach that low voltage cutoff. I have found that this method of safe battery discharge timing allows my batteries to last a lot longer and produce full rated output throughout their life.

Obstructions

The GP-1 Hydro has a break-away rudder that allows the rudder to swing back out of the way if the boat runs over some underwater obstruction. The rudder is normally held in place be a pair of o-rings that are easily replaced if needed. I found that because of the speed of the GP-1, it didn't take much of an obstruction to cause the little hydro problems. When the rudder strikes an obstruction and swings back, it changes the geometry of the boat and usually results in a flip. Even running on the open lake in front of my house, I picked up some small sticks and leaves that either slowed down the boat, or caused it to flip.

Retrieval

Plan Ahead! In the event of a flip or ESC cutoff, you should have a safe means of retrieving your GP-1 Mini Hydro.

NEVER SWIM AFTER AN OVERTURNED BOAT!!!

I've found that a long fishing pole with a weighted float works pretty well as an inexpensive retrieval tool. I simply cast out past the boat and drag the line across the overturned hull and snag the rudder. This usually allows for a quick and easy retrieve. A second boat towing a tennis ball on the end of a 15 foot length of line can work for longer retrieves. Simply circle the overturned boat and the line will drag over the hull and snag the rudder. However, I have had to use a full-size boat on those occasions when the worst occurred way out on the water.

Maintenance

Water Removal

At the end of each run, you need to empty out any water from inside the hull. The transom plug is a great way to empty out the hull after a run. At the end of the day, you should dry out the hull with paper towels and leave off the deck cover overnight to allow allow any moisture that collected in the boat to evaporate.

Corrosion Protection

At the end of each racing session, I clear out the water from the cooling system by blowing on the pickup tube while holding the hull upside down. I then remove the cooling lines from the motor and shoot a little preservative (CorrosionX) into the fittings on the water jacket. I then put a few drops of oil on each of the motor bearings.

Driveshaft Lubrication

At the end of the day, I clean and lubricate the driveshaft. The recommended GrimRacer Speed Grease is an excellent product for this purpose. I had to use some water proof axle grease a couple of times until the proper grease arrived and it seemed to work OK, but I prefer the Speed Grease.

Is this for a Beginner?

AquaCraft notes that the GP-1 is not suitable for boaters under the age of 14. With that restriction, I consider the GP-1 an excellent first hydroplane for any boater. This little hydro has plenty of speed to satisfy any boat driver. Perhaps its best trait is that it serves as an excellent learning platform for testing new tuning and trimming techniques. The drive strut and the turn fin are both adjustable and will provide plenty of movement to test out the merits and consequences of each trim adjustment. These trim techniques will serve boaters well as they move up to higher performance hydros.

Boating Photo Gallery

Boating Video Gallery

First Run on the Lake

This thing is FAST! I had to learn to stay out of the throttle in the turns, but it didn't take too long to get some good runs.

AquaCraft GP-1 First Run (3 min 2 sec)

Proper Launching Technique

OR...how I learned to get my Hydro up on step in four easy lessons.

GP 1 Launch (1 min 19 sec)

Blooper Reel

There were these times when things didn't go exactly like I planned.

Bloopers (1 min 44 sec)

Conclusion

This little hydro is FAST for its size! "Upgrade" items are already installed and they include a brushless inrunner motor and a LiPo ready water-cooled ESC. This mini hydro runs great right out of the box and the adjustable turn fin and drive strut will allow for performance tweaking. The RTR version is truly ready-to-run and can be in the water as soon as your LiPo battery is charged.

Pluses

  • Great Looking Boat
  • True Hydroplane Performance
  • Brushless Water-Cooled Inrunner Motor
  • LiPo Battery Ready Water-Cooled ESC
  • Tunable Performance Fin and Drive Strut
  • Tactic Radio System in RTR

Minuses

  • Minor Bubbles in one Decal

Thanks

I'd like to thank Hobbico and AquaCraft for providing the GP-1 Mini Hydro for this review. I'd also like to thank my wife for shooting the great photos and smooth videos, and our editor Angela for her assistance in editing this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Oct 03, 2013 at 03:58 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 03, 2013, 06:16 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
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This Post reserved for future updates.
Mike McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Oct 03, 2013 at 10:29 PM.
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Old Oct 05, 2013, 05:21 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,378 Posts
Looks like a nice boat Mike! Thanks for the review. Mike H
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Old Oct 07, 2013, 03:26 PM
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Battlepack's Avatar
United States, KY, Owenton
Joined Jul 2010
223 Posts
Cool....I also like the Mini Thunder's this is an upgrade!
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Old Oct 10, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Grimracer's Avatar
Urbana IL
Joined Feb 2006
235 Posts
Nice shots!... thanks for the review. Any questions let me know!

Grimracer
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Old Oct 10, 2013, 07:20 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,984 Posts
Thanks for all the help GR. I've still got a lot to learn about high performance electric boats, so I may be checking in with you again soon.
McD
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Old Oct 24, 2013, 10:55 PM
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United States, OH, Warren
Joined Aug 2013
336 Posts
Never mind... just saw the manual says right hand turns.
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Old Oct 25, 2013, 08:12 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
4,984 Posts
As you can see from the videos, the little boat turns both ways pretty well. Because of the angle of the turn fin on the starboard sponson, it is easier to flip in a left turn. The standard race convention for formal racing is to make right hand turns.

McD
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