Big presence, big power, massive excitment!
Photos: Edwin Rodriguez
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s August 2016 issue.
Heading out on the water during the summer on a real boat in order to simply run RC boats has become a common pastime with a few of my RC buddies. About twice a month, we pack up food, beverages and as many RC boats as we can on a pontoon boat and spend all day in a remote cove just enjoying the model boat side of the hobby. On one trip one buddy arrived with his Pro Boat Blackjack gas boat converted to electric power. After some drooling and bench testing, we watched him run it. It was pretty cool and then as the conversation continued, we moved on to the, “Wouldn’t it be cool if?” propositions. The first was if someone made a large, ready-to-run electric boat. Sure there are a number of gas boats, but conversions tend to be a pain. Well, for all of you boat enthusiasts who have thought of the same “wouldn’t be cool if?” scenario, your wait is over. Pro Boat has hit the mark on the cool factor by introducing the Zelos 48 ready-to-run electric catamaran. This massive boat is beautifully constructed and features a powerful brushless system that can run up to an 8S LiPo setup. Do I have your attention now? Then it’s time to dive into the details.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Pro Boat Models
DISTRIBUTOR: Horizon Hobby
WHO IT’S FOR: Intermediate to advanced
BOAT TYPE: Electric Catamaran
HOW MUCH: $999.99
• The size will grab any boat enthusiast’s attention
• Excellent build construction and superb finish
• Aluminum running hardware
• Intense brushless power
• Batteries tend to slide around under their retaining straps
Talk about instant excitement! The Pro Boat Zelos 48 will amaze you from the minute you open the massive box it comes in until you experience the incredible power it pumps out on the water. The boat is well built, its electronics package ran flawlessly and it handles well under the control of someone who has driven boats before. The price, although a little high for some, is justified for the quality and performance the Zelos 48 delivers.
• Tools included-none
• Tools recommended-Metric allen wrench set
• Two 2S, 3S or 4S LiPo battery packs
• Dual battery charger
• Four “AA” Batteries
• A large body of water
• Dynamite Reaction 14.8V 5000mAh 4S 50C LiPo, Hardcase: EC5, DYNB3804EC Dynamite Prophet Sport Duo 50W x 2 AC Battery Charger, DYNC2020A
OUT OF THE BOX
First up it must be noted that the box for the Zelos, is pretty large… well, really large as in it will easily take up the back of the an SUV. When you pull the lid off the box, you’ll be happy to see extra care has gone into making sure the Zelos meets you in pristine condition. There are large foam packing bumpers for each end of the boat and it’s cradled in a number of foam supports. I’m always nervous when opening a boat package because I’ve received some damaged boats in the past, but the Zelos boxing department gets a thumbs-up from this guy.
Enough with the cardboard, let’s get into the good stuff and that is the boat’s eye- catching bright orange paint scheme. The high gloss paint is perfectly applied and features a black and silver graphics package that is as wild as the concept of the boat itself. Upon inspection of the hull, the lines and strakes on the bottom are perfectly straight and nearly sharp to help the boat cut through the water. The knock test on the side of the hull indicates a sturdy structure, Pro Boat uses three layers of fiberglass to form the hull. The canopy, too, is formed fiberglass with an index pin to lock the front in and two large thumbscrews secure the back.
Inside, the boat is as spacious as you would expect. Up front, the bow is filled with foam for flotation in case you flip the boat. No worries that it will become a fixture at the bottom of the lake. Moving back, there are two battery pads, one on each side, with three Velcro straps each to secure your selected pair of batteries. These pads sit in the catamaran sponsons to keep weight low. A fiberglass mounting plate runs down the center section of the boat and is used to secure the electronics package. The plate screws down to the hull so it can be removed if necessary. Up at the front of the plate, two verticle plates extend up as mounting plates for the motor mount. An opening in the plate allows the flex shaft to pass through and at the rear the servo is fixed to the plate with aluminum servo mounts.
The electronics package is impressive. Bolted to an aluminum motor mount is the 1000Kv Dynamite 6-pole sensorless brushless motor. This motor alone will geek out your RC boat buddies when you lift the hatch on the Zelos. The motor is fitted with an aluminum water cooling jacket to keep temps under control. The motor hooks up to a Dynamite 160A waterproof and water cooled electronic speed
control. The ESC is capable of handling 4S to 8S for those looking to run from the mild to wild range. Toward the rear of the boat, Pro Boat fitted a large 1/5-scale servo to muscle the single rudder mounted on the transom. Finally, a Spektrum DX3e 2.4gHz handles the radio signals.
On the back of the boat is the single rudder that is machined aluminum, anodized grey and features a sharp leading edge to cut through the water. A water pick-up is crafted into the rudder to supply the electronics with cooling flow via a routing of rubber tube. The rudder’s bracket is aluminum too. A lower strut under the boat secures the brass tube with flex shaft assembly. A large metal 1.4×1.90-inch prop is bolted to the end of the shaft.
ON THE WATER
The Pro Boat Zelos 48 is big and requires a large body of water if you want to see it true speed and handling potential, but with the cost of the boat, I opted for a good sized pond for testing just in case retrieval was necessary, I would have a shot at getting it with the old fishing pole. With 8S of LiPo power, I was ready to see what it could do. The Zelos was slipped into the water and given a small push to get it out of the shallow. Sure I could have just rolled onto the throttle, but that’s not how ninety percent of its users will run it. Full squeeze! As soon as I punched the throttle, the boat nearly jumped out of the water and flipped over backwards. That was not what I was expecting, I thought it would get up on plane quickly, but the Zelos has so much power it thrusts itself up in the air. As the boat settled, I rolled on the power and the cat was instantly up on plane. The Zelos was riding on the rear section and ripping across the water, my heart was pounding with adrenaline as driving this thing is flat out cool! As I rounded the corners, I would roll off the throttle to keep it stable and let the boat cut through the water. The single rudder gives the boat responsive turning control. Back and fourth, figure 8’s, I was having way too much fun and that’s when it happens, the flip. I managed to turn hard into some chop, it sent the boat into the air and landed right sponson first into some chop sending the boat onto its deck. There it was, nearly in the center of the pond. I headed to my truck to get my fishing pole, wait I forgot the fishing pole, time to go and stare at the boat. For about ten minutes I stared at the Zelos as the wind twirled it around. Then I had the idea, airboat it! I pulled the throttle about three quarters of the way and the boat started to glide towards the shore. I even used the rudder to help steer the wind off the prop. In less than a minute the Zelos was on the shoreline. Of course I don’t recommend using this retrieval method because the electronics are not getting the water-cooling. But under the circumstances it was necessary to get the boat back. I pulled the boat out of the water and amazingly, very little water was in the hull. I put the hatch back on and headed out for more fun!
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LENGTH: 48 in. (1245mm)
BEAM: 17.3 in. (440mm)
HULL MATERIAL: Fiberglass
MOTOR: 6-pole 1000Kv 56×87mm
PROP: 1.4×1.90 and 1.4×2.0
RUDDER: Aluminum wedge with water pickup tube
DRIVE SYSTEM: Flexshaft with strut/ motor coupler connection
Pro Boat has been serving some exciting boats to the ready-to-run world, first with the Rockstar 48 gas boat and now this, the Zelos 48 ready-to-run electric catamaran. The Zelos is a sure fire way to get into boating with minimal work invested. Just pick up the boat, add batteries and enjoy. Over our test session, the only maintenance required on the boat was the occasional relubricating the flex shaft with marine grease available from Pro Boat. This boat boasts incredible looks, excellent construction, superb finish and backs it up with performance that will simply get your heart racing.
Dynamite, distributed by Horizon Hobby, dynamiterc.com, horizonhobby.com 800-338-4639
Pro Boat, distributed by Horizon Hobby Inc., proboatmodels.com, 800-338-4639
Spektrum, distributed by Horizon Hobby, spektrumrc.com, 217-352-1913