Less money, more fun

a lesson from my childhood

Since I was a kid I was fascinated by the German Seenotsrettungskreuzer, the originals, self righting after a capsize, and the remote controlled Graupner model “Adolf Bermpohl” (in the video), which could launch and capture the little daughter boat “Vegesack”. 

I could never afford the model, and besides, I only had a low budget remote control with 2 channels. For the Adolf Bermpohl plus the small boat Vegesack you needed 5 channels, the biggest RC you could buy at the time. Out of reach for me, financially. 

A childhood friend had the Graupner model, given to him by his rich parents. He never completed it. I would have. 

But instead I had to rely on my tinkering skills. I managed to convert the Graupner fishing boat “Elke”, which I could afford, into a pirate ship by fitting a self designed cannon on the deck that, when triggered, first turned sideways and the fired with electrically ignited black powder, which I had recovered from failed new year fire crackers. The cannon balls were the steel balls canibalized from ball bearings. I tweaked the remote control so that you could fire the cannon at will despite it having only two channels (1: left and right; 2: forward – stop – backward, not even speed controlled). 

Quite dangerous at the end, one of the shots knocked a piece out of my bedroom brick wall when I fired a test shot inside the room. On the lake, however, i never managed to hit and sink another RC boat. Nowadays I would probably get arrested for building an illegal weapon. 

I am convinced that I had a lot more fun with my low budget tinkering than I would have had if I could have afforded the Adolf Bermpohl and had built it to the specs. It would have been cool, but nothing special. 

The bottom line: you don’t always need a lot of money. 

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