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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Home Built Hovercraft

While not being the most efficient means of transportation, hovercrafts impress by the ability to operate both in land and water.The inherent maneuverability is also an interesting characteristic. While the driving is entirely different from a vehicle with wheels, hovercrafts are able to change direction very quickly, given the fast rudder response (usually located in the rear, and close to the propulsion source).

Building a full scale hovercraft would not meet my available budget, time and ambition. Given the fact that I had some extra RC parts from the model helicopter (servos, ESC and battery), I decided to buy an airplane brushless motor plus propeller, and build an hovercraft with household parts (essentially a plastic food container, some cardboard and plastic bag). With the help of my friend hot glue I put all the stuff together, resulting in a high performance RC hovercraft.

Here is a detail of the brushless motor and propeller:


With the two rudder fins, turn response is improved at the cost of a slight increase in drag:


The parts list used for assembling the hovercraft were:
  • One EK5-0086 1000 RPM/Volt 45 g brushless motor;
  • One 7x6E propeller;
  • One 18A brushless ESC (originally belonging to the Art-tech Falcon 3D helicopter);
  • One 1300 mAh 11.1V 3s1p LiPo batery (from the same Art-tech helicopter as well);
  • One 41 MHz PPM receiver (compatible with the Art-tech E-fly 100C transmitter);
  • One 9g micro-servo;
  • One 165x240x65 mm plastic food container;
  • Some cardboard;
  • 0.8mm wire;
  • 5 mm thickness 400 mm height wooden pole;
  • Plastic ties;
  • Bolts, nuts and washers;
  • 0.1 mm thick plastic bag.
Tools:
  • Soldering iron (mostly for heat-cutting the plastic);
  • Carboard cutter;
  • Scissors;
  • Screwdrivers;
  • Pliers;
  • Ruler;
  • Caliper;
  • Pencil.
The skirt was simply made of plastic bag with help of hot glue to attach it to the bottom of the hovercraft.

Cardboard was used to make the air cushion internal separator and duct:


This part is still to be perfectioned, as the lift performance is not the best (the skirt practically does not raise from the ground, and hardly moves in less regular surfaces).

The following video shows the hovercraft in action, performing several 180 degree turns and spins:




Another video shows the same hovercraft equipped with an onboard camera, providing a first person view of the drive: