AquaCraft Cajun Commander Brushless RTR Review - RC Groups

AquaCraft Cajun Commander Brushless RTR Review

The Cajun Commander is a brushless powered air boat that is ready to run and equipped for night time operation. You only need to add batteries and charger and your ready to explore the bayou.

Splash

Introduction

Cajun Commander Brushless RTR by AquaCraft Models (2 min 3 sec)


Length: 27.5"
Beam: 14.5"
Weight: 4.6 lb
Height: 12.5"
Servo: One TSX102 servo
Transmitter: Tactic TTX300 3-Channel 2.4 GHz SLT transmitter
Receiver: Tactic TTR325 receiver
Recommended Battery: 11.1V 2200-5000mAh LiPo (Not Included)
Actual Battery: 11.1V 3200mAh Electrifly LiPo
AA Batteries: 6 AA for lights and transmitter
Motor: 1800kV outrunner brushless motor
ESC: Waterproof, air-cooled 50A ESC with Star plug
Manufacturer: AquaCraft
Available: Tower Hobbies and Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere
Price: $279.99 RTR

This is my first radio controlled air boat but far from my first air boat. As a child growing up in Minnesota I converted my rubber band powered planes that had become too damaged to fly into rubber band powered boats of my own design. At one time I had a fleet of rubber band air boats. While I could direct them to go in a circle I couldn't always get them to come back as they stopped with the end of the rubber band power. I usually had to swim or walk out and get them. Some fond memories of those days came back to me as I prepared for this review. I have to admit that I was looking forward to seeing how the Cajun Commander would perform and having an air boat I could actually steer back to the shore.

The Cajun Commander comes Ready-To-Run. Just add 6 AA batteries with four for the transmitter and two for the on board lights and a 3-cell 11.1V LiPo battery pack with a Dean's or Star plug of 2200mAh to 5000mAh size and your ready to go. The Cajun Commander can be operated on water, snow or grass and exciting maneuvers can be performed with her power and her flat bottom ABS plastic hull. She comes with some nice details and a 12 LED spotlight system that runs on a separate 2 AA battery system. She also has 3D printable files available for those with a 3D printer so more scale details can be added including: a duck call, a foot rest and a gun rack.

Kit Contents

Kit Contents

  • Fully assembled Cajun Commander boat
  • Includes high-performance ABS plastic flat bottom hull with printed camo scheme
  • 1800kV outrunner brushless motor installed
  • Waterproof, air-cooled 50A ESC w/ Star Plug
  • Factory painted metal propeller cage with decorative V8 engine with headers
  • Propeller 9x7 3-blade fiber reinforced plastic
  • TSX102 servo for steering
  • Twelve LED light system powered by 2 AA batteries
  • Tactic receiver
  • Tactic TTX300 3-Ch 2.4GHz SLT transmitter
  • 90 Day limited warranty

Other Items Needed

  • 6 AA batteries 2 for lights, 4 for transmitter
  • 3-cell 11.1V LiPo 2200mAh-5000mAh battery pack
  • Balanced LiPo battery Charger

AquaCraft Promoted Features

  • 12 piece LED spotlight system
  • Replica V-8 engine with headers, air cleaner and exhaust system
  • High performance ABS plastic flat bottom hull with directly painted trim scheme
  • 1800kV outrunner brushless motor
  • Waterproof, air-cooled 50A ESC w/ Star Plug
  • Tactic 3-channel 2.4GHz SLT radio
  • Factory painted metal propeller cage
  • 9x7 3-blade fiber reinforced plastic prop
  • 3D printable files available for additional scale details

3D Printable Files

Some people say that these parts should have just been made and included with the Cajun Commander. I don't look at it like that and I don't even have a 3D printer...yet. I look on these accessories that can be added to the boat much like a figure or an alligator that could be bought and added to the boat or a number of other possible scale accessories that could be added for more detail. I suspect that a 3D printer will be used in the future by many of us to make a number of scale accessories for our boats and planes and this is just the start of that possibility. If you are interested and have access to a 3D printer they have three files you can download for the three accessories seen in the picture above.

Opening the Box

My Cajun Commander arrived nicely packed with parts protected. I was able to confirm that the ABS plastic hull was in good shape and as advertised the camo paint scheme was printed directly onto the plastic for a good look. All of the electronics came already installed.

Assembly

There really is no assembly needed for the Cajun Commander. She comes Ready to Run

Battery Installation

I installed Four Alkaline batteries that I supplied into the bottom of the included Tactic TTX300 transmitter. The transmitter was then ready to operate.

To get into the battery/radio compartment on the Commander, I rotated the latch on the floor in front of the seat bench and lifted the front edge of this cover up and forward to access the radio/battery compartment. I installed two Alkaline AA batteries that I supplied into the AA battery holder located in this compartment in the middle of the hull. These two batteries power the 12-LEDs on the boat. The on/off switch for the lights is located on the side of the radio box.

I am using the 3-cell Electrifly 3300mAh 11.1V LiPo Battery. Two such batteries where obtained for this review and they arrived before the Cajun Commander so I charged them with my balanced LiPo charger and they were ready to be used when the Cajun Commander arrived. The hook of the hook and loop material came already secured to the bottom of the battery box. A strip oh the loop material came with it and I applied it to one of the batteries with the tape backing on the material. I had some more matching loop material which I cut and stuck to my second battery. One battery by itself easily fit in the battery compartment. a larger thicker pack could fit but the two packs together with a Y-harness pushed up against the top cover of the battery box due to the hook and loop material so I will only be using one of these batteries at a time.

The top of the battery/radio box holds the seat and the bench. It is held in place with two metal pins in back that go into holes in the deck and a latch in front. Tape is included so the hatch can be sealed with the tape to help keep water out of the hull. The front and sides of the boat have raised short walls. Water that splashes onto the deck just rolls off the back of the deck which has no raised surface and the boat is not designed to go backwards.

Tactic TTX300 Transmitter and Control

Promoted Radio System Features

  • 2.4 GHz Spread Spectrum Technology
  • Ergonomic and stylish case design
  • Transmitter can bind to multiple receivers
  • Tiny, lightweight receiver with internal antenna
  • Built-in fail-safe
  • Steering and Throttle trim dials
  • Steering rate adjustment
  • Power LED with low battery Warning indication
  • Multi-function programmable 3rd channel
  • Steering and throttle end point adjustments

The radio is a surface radio system with a steering wheel and a trigger grip forward speed control. With it I use two channels to control the boat. There is forward throttle control but no reverse and steering with the one servo. A third channel is available and is is controlled by buttons on the front top of the transmitter grip but I have not put them to any use thus far. The on/off switch is on the back side of the transmitter along with servo reversing switches for the throttle and steering controls. Per the instructions End Point adjustments can be programmed into the transmitter, see the instruction manual for details. Much the same thing can be done with the trim dials on the front of the transmitter for steering, throttle and dual rate.

Steering on The Cajun Commander

The servo is in the battery/radio box with a control rod going back to a rudder and the two rudders are connected with control rods top and bottom so that the steering of one allows control of both. As expected the steering is proportional.

The ESC is located outside slight above the deck of the Cajun Commander and under the motor mount. It is cooled by being outside in the flow of air and is sealed so that it can be exposed to the water as well. As with the steering the speed control is proportional.

Completion

The balance of the propeller can be tested by taking it off and seeing if it is balanced. It can then be balanced if necessary. Doing this for the boat is not as critical as for a plane but I believe it is the proper thing to do. The propeller on my Cajun Commander was only slightly out of balance but as they say: results may vary.

I turn on the transmitter. I turn on the LEDs. I plug in the LiPo battery to the ESC's connector. Upon doing that I heard the ESC play: bee da beep---BEEP! The ESC was now ready to be armed. To arm it I just squeezed and held the throttle until I heard a chime: BEEP BEEP. I relaxed the throttle trigger back to neutral and got a confirmation chime: BEEP BEEP BEEP. The Cajun Commander was now ready to go. I repeat this process every time I want to operate the boat as the ESC must be armed each time. I re-installed the battery/radio box cover and latch it shut. I can seal the battery/radio compartment with supplied tape if I wish.

Maintenance

Maintenance

  • Oil the motor bearings from time to time using light machine oil.
  • Clean the boat using a soft cloth and window cleaner.
  • Remove the drain plug from the back of the boat and allow the moisture in the hull to evaporate.
  • Store the Cajun Commander on a flat surface to avoid warping the hull.
  • Long storage on uneven surfaces can damage the hull.
  • Make sure to install the plug before the next time you use the boat.

Operational Warnings

Aquacraft included a list of warnings on the first page of the instruction manual. We strongly recommend anyone operating a Cajun Commander read them before operating the boat as a Safety Reminder!

Boat Operation

Basics

The boat is powered by air being moved by the three bladed 9 x 7 tractor propeller. It is steered by twin paddles that operate as air rudders behind the propeller in the back of the boat. The controls therefore are steering and proportional forward motion. She operates best on water but can also be run on compacted snow, flattened brown grass and green grass that is not too long. As a golfer I have come up with my own chart for grass length and operating the Cajun Commander.

Mike's Golf Course Green Grass Operating Chart

  • Golf course putting green: Excellent speed and very nice turning generally but still some spins.
  • Golf course manicured Tee Boxes: Same great speed and handling as on the putting green grass.
  • Golf course fairway grass: Very good speed and control but more spin outs.
  • Golf course first cut off rough: Still operates okay but not nearly as fast as prior surfaces and even more spin outs.
  • Golf Course second cut of rough: If entered with speed up can operate for some distance but if I eased off of the throttle she would become stuck.
  • Thick clover or ground cover would stop the Cajun Commander or not let her start up.

(Testing was done on putting green and tee grass with permission on replacement sod growth. No harm was done to the grass.)

I first operated the Cajun Commander on pretty thick but not to long green grass at the local park. I would classify it that day as slightly more than the first cut of rough on a golf course. It took quite a bit of throttle to initially get her moving on this surface but at full throttle she could go at a good clip and I had pretty good control making about two out of every three 90 degree turns that I attempted. However, due to differing friction from the grass, some of my turns slid into 180 degree turns, a few 270 degree turns and one almost a 360 degree turn. I had fewer wild sliding intentional spinning turns made at 3/4s to high throttle. A week later with the grass not having been cut she could still run on the grass but was noticeably slower. The grass was getting close to being equal to the second cut of rough on a golf course. Some weed beds in the grass could be penetrated and passed through at high speed but she could no longer start moving if she stopped in those weed beds.

My next running of the Cajun Commander was on long dead brown grass and weeds that had been flattened by vehicles. Again the covering of grass was nice and thick and it made for a good operating surface. Here the Cajun Commander would start sliding at a lower speed setting and the top speed was close to on the golf tee grass. Surprising to me was I seemed to have more consistent turns over all on the flat brown grass then I did on the lush green grass at the park. I was making about 5 out 6 90 degree turns. The friction was a little more even and there was less of it. However, I also did one spin of almost 540 degrees sliding out of a 90 degree attempted turn at high speed when something snagged a portion of the bottom of the boat and started the spin.

I also tried to operate on some dead brown grass and weeds that were still standing and this was too much for my Cajun Commander as she couldn't move in this friction thick environment. I was tempted to operate it once out at our flying field but I didn't like the low grass/ high rock content and so I passed. Operating on the grasses I have described above my hull still looks pristine. I have no problem recommending operating on think short grass and I would like to try compacted snow next winter. I do not recommend operating her on dirt or rocks or a paved surface as those could be very hard on the ABS plastic hull.

Finally, I operated her on the surface for which she is truly intended: water! The transmitter adjustments allowed me to adjust the steering so that she went nice and straight with my hands off of the steering wheel. I adjusted her for maximum turning and kept her like that. In calm conditions I only had the tide to contend with and that varied depending on the time of day. My water testing was all done on the CA Delta and while it is fresh water it is affected by the tides. I had no trouble at controlling the Cajun Commander and directing her to exactly where I wanted her to go. I had to remember I had no reverse and stayed away from reeds that might be able to catch her. I like operating her at mixed speeds so slow navigation near the reeds with fast runs in the open water. I also learned (fortunately in open water) that when I killed the throttle I lost almost all of my steering ability. The flat bottom boat slides in the direction last headed and without the propeller blowing air the rudders, that are in the air and not in the water, have little to no affect on the boat's direction.

So during basic operation I learned that to have steering control I needed to be running the propeller. I had to allow for sliding on turns and if experiencing partial drag going over a plant with only part of the boat I would likely need to adjust the steering for that. In calm conditions higher speed pretty much lead to wider slides on turns and possible spins when encountering small floating plants. I will discuss wind and waves in the Special Performance section next.

Special Performance

A flying boat without wings is pretty special in my mind. Well at full speed if you hit a full scale boat wake the Cajun Commander can and will get airborne. Hit a wave ripple straight on and going into the wind you may get a jump forward out of the water. Hit it sideways with a strong wind from the side can lead to excitement. With nothing below the water's surface the Cajun Commander can be blown around on the water in the wind. The stronger the wind the faster she gets blown about. When making a speed run with a strong wind from the side I have had to use rudder to steer slightly into the cross wind just to keep the Commander on a straight track. (Not nearly as much as with a plane but otherwise similar. I have not flipped my Cajun Commander but I did come close one afternoon making a high speed turn with the wind from the side and a real boat's wake being crossed. I found I could easily control and steer the Cajun Commander even in a fifteen mile per hour wind. It became much more interesting doing it at higher speeds. Into a twenty mph wind or more. I felt I might flip her at full speed into the wind as the bow lifted up at 3/4s throttle as can be seen in my video below. I have not rolled my Cajun Commander but I have come close a couple of times but only in strong winds and high speed or while turning or crossing a full scale boat's wake.

In calm conditions full speed runs and sliding turns have been a lot of fun and pretty well controlled. Controlling the Cajun Commander in sever wind conditions was not difficult at slow to medium speed. Hitting some floating plants on the water can cause drag and sometimes spins if only part of the hull is slowed down. The best news is that with no prop or rudder in the water I haven't snagged any of these water plants. I just go over them. High speed in wind and waves can be a challenge but it has been a very fun one with some adrenalin rushes.

Is This For a Beginner?

Yes! A beginner is perfectly capable of learning how to operate and control the Cajun Commander in a very short period of time. Just remember that per the warnings in the instruction manual that the product is to be used by ages 14 and over. Adults should be directly hands on and involved if operating the boat with their younger children as it is capable of going approximately 20 mph or so, it has a propeller and that needs to be respected. Finally, when operating it in water the parent needs to be there and paying close attention.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

The opening video at the beginning of this review shows the Cajun Commander with some light waves and KMOT's video later in this review shows it on calm water. My video here shows my Cajun Commander on the Delta in 20 mph winds.

AquaCraft's Cajun Commander on CA Delta (5 min 8 sec)

This video of the Cajun Commander operating on long grass was recorded on the second trip to the local park when the grass was getting a bit to tall. The grass had a week's growth since my first green grass outing and the going was slower. The longer grass does make a difference and makes the going rougher. The twilight video was taken two days later.

AquaCraft Cajun Commander on Grass: Day and Early Night (2 min 38 sec)

Conclusion

I found the transmitter to be really quite good! It had all the control and adjustment that I would want for this project and even a third channel is available. Trimming with the transmitter's adjustment dials took only a few seconds on the first run on the water and I haven't had to adjust them since then. I learned that the Cajun Commander will easily slide on the carpet in the trunk of our cars or the back of my Prius so I make sure it won't slide by securing it in place or placing it on a non slide surface.

I have operated the Cajun Commander on lush green grass and pretty thick flattened dead grass and neither did any damage to the bottom of the Cajun Commander which is ABS plastic. She didn't move in tall dead grass/weeds that were thick and still upright. I have avoided operating her on pavement or a rocky dirt surface to protect the bottom of my boat. While she goes surprisingly fast on short grass her real speed is on the water and that is easily my preferred surface on which to operate her. I strongly recommend anyone getting a Cajun Commander to learn how to operate her in open water! How she slides at different speeds and how she needs the propeller to be turning to be properly steer using the air rudders. The learning curve doesn't take much time and wasn't at all hard but she doesn't handle like an ordinary boat with a rudder in the water. Accordingly, I didn't do high speed stuff next to the dock until I had learned how she handles and I gave her some extra room even then.

I found her a blast to operate on the short grass and the water. I got my adrenalin rushes when operating her in the wind at high speed. The LEDs actually do a pretty good job in the dark when reasonably close but I couldn't really capture that with my camera. I do like that there is a separate switch for them so I only have them on in twilight or at night. Overall she has performed pretty well.

Bonus Coverage Videos from KMOT

RC Group member, KMOT, was one of the first to get the AquaCraft Cajun Commander and he posted two videos of his craft operating first on grass and then on water and he was nice enough to share these in a mini review in the Dock Talk Tread: KMOT's Mini Review As seen in the second video he had an accident with a wall and he showed how he made repairs in his mini review. My thank's to KMOT for his initial sharing and his letting me share his videos in this review.

KMOT exercising his dog on grass with the Cajun Commander

Aquacraft Cajun Commander with Freckles the Beagle (4 min 25 sec)

KMOT's first trip on water at the famous Hansen Dam. Video shot by RC Group member Rikyrik

HDV Tom's New bad boy Airboat (2 min 50 sec)

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Comes ready to operate
  • Has some nice detail to which more details can be added
  • Radio supplies all the control I need for this boat
  • Clean up is easy and radio compartment can be sealed with supplied tape

Minuses

  • The prop may need to be balanced
  • Does not operate in reverse
  • Remember there is a slide factor in turning or stopping the Cajun Commander

Thanks

I would like to thank AquaCraft and Hobbico for supplying RC Groups with the Cajun Commander for this review. I would like to thank my friend, Dick Andersen, and my wife, Star, for their assistance with the video.

Last edited by Michael Heer; Apr 16, 2015 at 11:59 AM..
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May 06, 2015, 01:38 PM
Admin Deluxe
Jim T. Graham's Avatar
I have seen this thing in person and I want it!!
May 06, 2015, 03:45 PM
Jack of all, master of none
Skipper Graham's Avatar
Great review! I love my Cajun- lots of fun! Can't wait to get it back on the lake this weekend.
May 06, 2015, 05:39 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Awesome review Michael! Very thorough!
May 06, 2015, 07:09 PM
Registered User

Mine on the "bayou"


These are so much fun since you can run grassy land or water.
May 10, 2015, 03:24 AM
bobepine's Avatar
Cool toy, indeed. I want one, too!
May 20, 2015, 10:36 PM
Registered User
anyone know what the actual MPH speed of this thing is?

THANKS
May 26, 2015, 07:58 PM
Jack of all, master of none
Skipper Graham's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by reptileman
anyone know what the actual MPH speed of this thing is?

THANKS

It's not a speed boat so I'm not sure why it matters all that much. Like others have said, it's around 20, and that's probably too fast anyway for the hull design. If you run full throttle it better be on glass smooth water with no wind. Otherwise, have your rescue device handy because you'll quickly need it.
Jun 08, 2015, 03:59 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
It is near 100 degrees today in Stockton and I am looking forward to operating my Cajun Commander this afternoon in the Ca Delta. I will be under a tree with a boat ramp nearby to walk down and get my feet wet. Little wind, small waves. Mike H
Jul 18, 2015, 02:12 AM
Registered User
"I will be under a tree with a boat ramp nearby to walk down and get my feet wet." Now that's my kinda boating ) BTW, as said before THE best thorough rc review I've seen to date & I've been doin this since I was 7 & am now, lets just say over 60!!

Do you have a contingency plan in place for rescue retrieval if a blow over occurs? hehe
Jul 18, 2015, 10:07 PM
Submarine or Target?
ericbphoto's Avatar
I just back-ordered one from Tower Hobbies. I'll be too busy before it arrives, anyway. This looks ideal since our pond is re-establishing it's ecosystem and there is a bunch of prop-fouling stuff just under the surface.

Kmot's video with Freckles has inspired me to a new way to exercise our beagle, too.
Jul 18, 2015, 10:46 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericbphoto

Kmot's video with Freckles has inspired me to a new way to exercise our beagle, too.
Cool!

Try an RC truck as well. Maybe your beagle will chase those like Freckles does.
Jul 19, 2015, 02:32 AM
Registered User
I'm goin to join the CC owner's club as soon as Tower ships. BTW, the Parkzone PKZ1015 is a 9.7.5 w/ a 4mm dia hole prop (I ck'd the motor specs that this prop goes on) so the .5 extra bite might move it along a little faster )
Aug 11, 2015, 04:06 PM
Submarine or Target?
ericbphoto's Avatar
Yay! Just found out mine arrived this afternoon. Can't wait to get home from work tonight. I'm off Thursday, so the maiden voyage should happen then.
Aug 14, 2015, 05:21 PM
Submarine or Target?
ericbphoto's Avatar
Very easy to drive for a first-timer.


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