Has anyone made an automatic canting keel?

Hi all,
just wondering if anyone in the world has made a keel that automatically cants (apart from me cause i have one that works out of the water)?

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

can you give more details?
How does it cant and how many degrees?

Anyway congrats! time to post pics Rob…I have some; but you need to show them to the world!!!

again nice job


_/ if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it! _


thank you wis.

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

I took photo’s usin my dads Nikon F60, he he he, will have em developed when i finished the roll which should easily be by the weekend

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

Hey Rob,

Hal Robinson built a US1M with a canting mast. The canting system worked automatically using a pendulum. The first rendering of the system had a free swinging pendulum which caused all sorts of problems. The boat would go into uncontolled rocking oscillations. He redesigned the system adding a damper to eliminate the oscillations and now it works reasonably well.

I for one disagree with this philosophy of an automatic system. There are many times when you would want to over-ride the automatic system.

For example, just before you tack you would want to uncant the mast to cause the boat the want to round up into the wind (thereby helping the tack) and then slowly cant the mast on the new tack asd the power came on. This is the model yachting equivalent of a roll tack.

Another situation where you would want to over-ride the system is in light wind. Here, you would want to cant the mast to leeward slightly to help the sails fill (sort of like sitting on low side in a dinghy in really light wind).

Downwind, you might want to cant the mast over the windward rail to help wing the jib out and also to get some projection to help the boat steer down in a puff. This might in fact be a time when you want to control the steering of the boat by rocking the rig around: Cant it slightly to leeward to help the boat come up in the lulls and then cant it to windward in the puffs to help the boat round down and ride the puff.

All these same ideas would alos apply to a canting keel.

Rob, as a dinghy sailor, you probably know as well as I the advantages of being able to move the weight around in the boat. Rocking downwind, roll tacking upwind. Letting the boat heel a bit when you are trying to pinch up to a approaching puff and then pump it down as the puff hits. You can do these things with control over the canting keel. You cannot do these things if it is controlled automatically.

Most of the time, in moderate to strong breeze, you are going to have the keel pinned to windward anyway. It is in the lighter stuff where you want to play it. So with all these reasons, I think it is better to control the keel manually.

But that is just my opinion as a recovering dinghy sailor…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

i never sail in light conditions, always enough wind for the sistership to my boat to be heeling lots. (whilst your playing with your manual canting keel, i will have 2 spare channels to play with my kite he he he :P)

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.


Why not go with a 6 channel radio?

You could put the spin halyard on a toggle (up/down) which would give you one of the 4 stick channels back for the keel…

But anyway, you have a system that automatically cants the keel. How did you do it? Do you have a pendulum system or is it gyro based?

  • Will

Will Gorgen

6 channels is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to expensive for me cause im still at school.
when im on the shore i can set when the keel cants, so when the boat leans over to a certain degree, it cants till the switches are closed, then it stops. No pendulum or gyro’s, mmm the motor that im usin at the moment is probably to heavy, but it was cheap, 18 bucks.
if you have manual control of the keel, when your out just that far that you cant see the boat easily, you cant tell how much to cant the keel.
hopefully it will be sailing this weekend.

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

Hi yachtie 2k4

I have been watching this post with interest, but been to busy at work 12-14 hr days 7 day weeks for the last 3 weeks.

I will cut and paste some sections of emails from earlier this year discusing the same situation that you are in regarding an automatic canting system.

<font color=“blue”>I am looking at automating the control of the canting keel, do you know of anyone (like yourself) with electronic skill to design a simple control system. My idea would be to use a pendulum weight swinging off a potentiometer, which would than control the 380d winch. The winch would be setup with a two 3:1 purchase systems either side of the keel control lever this allows for 600 mm of travel of the winch. Would limit the rotation of the pot to 25 to 30 degrees of rotation either side (equals angle of heel), and the keel swing of 50 to 55 degrees swing either side.</font id=“blue”>
This was before I designed the gear quardant and pinion drive.

<font color=“blue”>Sounds interesting. If I understand correctly, you want to position the canting keel winch with an on board controller which has a pot that is positioned by a pendulum. Mechanically, I see some possible problems with the action of the pendulum. I think it would want to be dampened so that it does not swing freely with the motion of the boat. The dampening would want to be stiff enough so that the winch would not be continually correcting itself. If it did it would chew up batteries very quickly.</font id=“blue”>
<font color=“red”>Electronically however, it’s very simple. It would only need a small circuit to produce the signal pulse to control the winch. This circuit would have a three wire connection to the winch. This is simply the winch servo lead that is normally plugged into the receiver. It would also have another 3 wire lead connected to the pendulum pot. Possibly a trim pot might be used to adjust the throw of the controller.</font id=“red”>

<font color=“blue”>Thanks, you did understand it correctly, yes the pendulum would need to be dampened. I have found several sites with servo driver plans, just a case of building one and try it out.</font id=“blue”>

<font color=“red”>There are some servo driver kits available from some of the Electronics chains such as DSE, Altronics etc. However, I did a bit more thinking about how simple a circuit could be for your application. I have recently changed my winch circuit to be based on a new range of micro controllers. The one in the winch is a more complex one than needed for this job, but this range of micros includes a tiny surface mount 8 pin ic that could be mounted on small pcb about 1 cm x 1cm. The pcb could mount direct to the pendulum pot. The only connection needed is the servo lead from the winch. Thinking about the trim pot option, it would not be necessary since the winch itself can store the trim settings of the pendulum pot. But another option is that a spare channel in the receiver could be used to trim the system while on the water or even override the system when desired and drive the keel direct from the transmitter.</font id=“red”>

<font color=“blue”>I have been thinking of ways to dampen the pot.
A. a mechanical brake system working on the pot shaft,
B. a liquid dampened pendulum could be messy
C. electronically dampen the pot signal with a resistor / capacitor setup D. simplified endcoder say 60 or 72 steps per rev</font id=“blue”>

<font color=“red”>Dampening would be a real suck it and see job. A simple solution may be simply be to match the pendulum moment with the operating torque of the potentiometer. All pots have a certain amount of resistance (pardon the pun) to rotation due to the lubrication in the bush. The pendulum moment is the combined mass of the pendulum and the radius of that mass to the pivot. So the experimenting you might do would be to play with various weights placed at various distances from the pivot to see how fast it will rotate and to pick an ideal maximum rate of rotation to suit the boat.

You could theoretically add a function into the controller which adds in damping. But since maximum speed would be needed for tacking, this damping might need an override perhaps triggered by the rudder servo being deflected a certain degree. The rudder servo lead would have to go through the controller to get that signal. Software wise this damping would be complicated and time consuming to develop so hopefully it would not be needed.

For the driver circuit, I’ve drawn up a PCB which contains only a small microcontroller on a printed circuit board which will fit on the back of a pot. The pot/circuit combo will have a servo lead with a connector for the winch servo lead to plug into. That’s it, nothing more needed. The winch will be controlled by the rotation of that pot. The pot circuit gets its power from the winch.</font id=“red”>

<font color=“blue”>Things progressing slowly on the F100, unfortunately there’s work to be done. At this stage I will go with the direct control of the keel and look at the automatic control as a future development. I have finalised the design of the canting keel, its going to be a segment of a 150t module spur gear fixed to the inside of the hull. The servo motor is mounted on the keel control lever driving a 15 t pinion meshing with the quadrant gear. By my calculations the torque of the servo motor needs to be 15 kg/cm (includes 1.5 safety factor). Guess it would be a 380D unit, I will be using 6 x 1.5v batteries. Is the stall torque proportional to voltage? </font id=“blue”>

I hope this has helped or has it put you into a tailspin sorry a chinese gybe

nah, mine is way more simplier than that, but mine will weigh more at the moment cause i am using a big motor.

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

OK, Rob,

You have a simpler system that what John describes. You use no pendulums or gyros. So…


Inquiring minds want to know…

  • Will

Will Gorgen

he he he he, with on of those 3.6 volt screwdrivers, mercury switches & micro switches & lots of wire.

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.

Alright, i’ll take a guess. Let me know if I get close, OK?

You set up two mercury switches, one for port tack and one for starboard tack, at preset angles (probably the same angle on each side). When the boat heels past that preset angle, one switch (the one for that tack)will close and cause the motor to shift the keel to windward until the switch opens again.

So when you are sailing downwind, the boat will probably stay heeled in one direction based on how much “dead zone” you have between the angles of the two switches and the last tack you were on before you headed down wind.

Did I get close?

  • Will

Will Gorgen

ye, but the angle is pretty easy to change, so you can reduce the angle at which it close’s. also, i don’t sail dead downwind cause where i am going to be sailing it, there will be waves, proper waves so that you can surf them.
It’s lookin an alright weekend for sailing, hopefully the boat will be ready for it he he he, 5-10 on saturday, 20-25 on sunday, guess we’ll find out how well i am at building a rc boat hey. he he he :stuck_out_tongue:

I see said the blind man to the crippled nudist who put his hands in his pockets & promptly walked away.