Two second-hand electric motors, originally designed to drive windshield wipers of autorickshaws, propel the scale-sized, radio-controlled working model of INS Shivalik, Indian Navy’s most modern, multi-role frigate with stealth features.
Its maker, K. Roopesh, says he salvaged the tiny motors from a scrap yard to save on costs.
The Indian Navy had commissioned the hobbyist to make a working model of the top-of-the-line battleship to instruct its seamen.
The repaired motors can propel the 2.286-m long model up to 12 km/hour in placid waters.
Roopesh used an innovative mix of polystyrene, saltwater-resistant plywood, and recycled paper pulp to ‘lay the ship’s hull.’
The composite material ensured the hull was light and strong at once. He gave the hull a blue-tinged, nitrocellulose-based finish.
The ship modeller constructed an outsized tank in front of his house to test the hull’s stability.
He used brick chips as ballast weights to achieve the correct balance. Once the hull’s stability was established, Roopesh started working on its super-structure.
The INS Shivalik’s superstructure is smaller and its sensor and signal masts are more or less ‘enclosed’ for better stealth. The frigate has a helipad on its rear deck.
So, Ropeesh sought the services of Vinod Madhav, a veteran aero-modeller, to make a static model of a Sea King helicopter to be placed on the ‘helo-deck’ (helicopter deck) on the ship model’s stern.
A device in front of the model scoops cool water, which circulates through copper tubes cocooning its twin electric motors, to keep the ‘frigate’s engines’ cool during operations.
Twin rudders and a ‘bow-thrust pump,’ a device which directs pressurised water through manoeuvrable nozzles, help steer the remote controlled ‘frigate’ with ease.
Roopesh also gave a touch of reality to the ‘cannons’ on the model ship. He fitted red-hued light-emitting diodes on their ‘muzzles’ and rigged it to a miniature audio device. At the press of a button on the model’s handheld remote control mechanism, its ‘muzzles’ ‘flash fire’ and the rattle of automatic heavy machine gun fire fills the air.
The ship’s motors draw their power from a 12-volt rechargeable DC battery cannibalised from a discarded uninterrupted power supply system (UPS).
When ready-to-run, the model weighs 9 kg and can operate continuously for two hours on full battery charge.
In ship modelling competitions, which are a rarity in Kerala, radio-controlled ship models are tested more for their manoeuvrability than power.
Roopesh is no shipwright. But, the hobbyist says he attained the satisfaction of one when he discovered he could remotely manoeuvre the ‘INS Shivalik’ with considerable ease through a maze of buoys set afloat on a swimming pool in his locality.