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Bixpy Water Propulsion At Outdoor Retailer In Salt Lake City

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PRODUCTS & GADGETS

A JET ENGINE FOR YOUR KAYAK

San Diego Based Inventor Talks High Octane Water Propulsion System At Outdoor Retailer In Salt Lake City

The Bixpy Jet set up underwater. [Courtesy: Bixpy]

Venturing out in a kayak, especially on some big ocean, is something pushing more and more outdoor enthusiasts. But arms get tired. The sun can beat down. The aspect of almost a jet engine for a kayak seems like a no brainer but figuring out the mechanics and how it works is where ingenuity comes in. Houman Nikmanesh, creator of the Bixpy Water Propulsion system out of San Diego, sat down with The Buzz at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City to talk about innovation and the challenge of water.

The Buzz: You were originally from Toronto?

Houman Nikmanesh: I was raised in Canada and I went to school in Canada…did my whole thing. Our head office for the other business was in Canada. We moved down to San Diego with the intention of opening some but eventually we sold those companies. I biked for a while, I sailed for a while, and then I started getting into drone and skateboard technology, started playing with those motors and batteries…

The Buzz: Did you always tinker around with technology?

HN: Tinkering yes, but I have a biology degree. I don't have an engineering background. I do like building stuff. I did hire a couple of engineers on to help me bring this thing to life. The idea was that I wanted to get into building skateboards or drones. But then I went out fishing with my buddy one time [on kayaks] and we sort of got stuck out there in big swells.  So you get out there and if it's your first time it's pretty intimidating. And if you have had a couple of drinks, you then forget  that you got to get back. It’s like, "Oh. This sucks." The sun's beating down on you. You've been out there for like seven hours. Now you've got to get back. So we figured the next time we do this we need a motor

The Buzz: What were you fishing for out there?

HN: It was that year when it was really hot, and the water was really warm. So there was a lot of yellowfin [tuna] that had come very close to shore. We actually caught a really good fish, too but we just had a really hard time coming back. We went to West Marine, looking for motors. And everything seemed either so expensive or so big that it just didn't make sense. And I was playing with a skateboard motor. I had those in my garage and I go, "Hey, you know, this thing should be able to move a kayak, no problem. Like if it moves a person on land it should be able to move a kayak on water." So we basically use a modified version of those brushless skateboard motors in our motors.

The Buzz: But the initial sort of idea, and the prototype of how you wanted it to work

HN: So I had a Hobie Kayak. And a Hobie Kayak has a hole in the middle where the pedals go. My entire thing was that whatever we build needs to fit into that hole, right? So we started developing around that hole. And it was 82 millimeters or whatever it is, needs to fit into that hole. So we didn't want a big propeller. We started looking at impellers and jet engines and how they work. We started off with the biggest PVC pipe from Home Depot that we could squeeze through that hole using glue and epoxy and stuff like that. We bought a 3D printer so we could start printing different propellers. At some point we had about 80 or 90 different propellers that were testing. And it went from there, basically.

The battery pack for the Bixpy on a kayak. [Courtesy: Bixpy]
The Bixpy jet and mount on a kayak. [Courtesy: Bixpy]

The Buzz: And there’s two different versions? One for the kayak. And a different one for snorkeling?

HN: So we build one motor and then the idea was to spend that money buying that motor you should be able to get more use out of it than just putting in your kayak, right? I kayak, but I only kayak so many times a year. I'd love to have that thing do something else aside from sticking it on my kayak. And if you're going to move water, then you should be able to do other things with it. So right from the very beginning, the idea was I'd like to be able to hold this in my hand and do something else with it. We even [initially] built a water pump with it. But then we sort of scrapped that. Just didn't seem like anyone would pay a thousand dollars for a water pump.  We used to empty our tanks with the motors because it'll pump out about 80 to 100 gallons of water a minute.

The Buzz: Having seen at the nine setting on the motor, the thrust this thing has…

HN: So the idea, when I was playing with the skateboards and the drones -- they do what they can do now because of the battery technology, because of the motors, because of the electronics, right? So you've got these amazing motors. You've got all this battery technology. We had a few different designs when we started off. Things that looked a little bit smoother and little bit cooler. And then we realized that it needed a lot of mechanical elements that were necessary and those were starting to take that sexy, smooth look away from it. So we thought “Let's make it look sort of industrial and sort of robust and cool and just make it look like a little bomb or a little bit like a football …because mechanically we need those properties.

The Buzz: But then there is the builder mentality which is driving outdoor innovation right now.

HN: Honestly, when we first started building this, I thought, "Three to six months.” Three months go by, and I am more confused than I ever was. It was like, "Oh, my God. What? Are you joking?" First of all, getting into water is super challenging. Any time you get underwater things become very challenging to leak proof and seal and so on. And then, you get into salt water and it's a whole different ballpark. And we weren't just building a motor for boats because if you're building a motor for a boat, the most you'll go under is 6 to 12 inches, 18 inches or whatever. We were building something we wanted to rate for a hundred and something feet. So this now is a motor that runs at 130 feet. So the mechanics of that are very different,. And then, when you run the motor at that RPM, heat becomes a real issue. With the handheld, you can do about 40 minutes sort of non-stop full-speed. Another battery lasts almost 10 hours if you're at trolling speed. If you do it full-speed you'll run through it in about an hour and a half. So you get about a 10- to 15-mile range in the kayak.


Tim Wassberg

A graduate of New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts with degrees in Film/TV Production & Film Criticism, Tim has written for magazines such as Moviemaker, Moving Pictures, Conde Nast Traveler UK and Casino Player. He enjoys traveling and distinct craft beers among other things.

Bixpy

Make Sure To Check Out:

Bixpy, which is the world’s first and only portable, handheld water propulsion device. Every piece of technology that has gone into developing this product is ground breaking: from the electronic circuitries that control everything, to the design of the propeller, perfected to bring you an innovative device.

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