Picture of DIY Human Powered Wooden Hydrofoil  - The

The human powered hydrofoil you can build yourself.
It's made from mother nature's favorite material, WOOD!
As seen in Fly a Human Powered Hydrofoil, this amazing thing will be bigger than the Segway and the Internet put together!

Do you like this Instructable? Digg it!

Click on this picture to see a movie of the hydrothopter's maiden voyage.

Step 1: Anatomy of the Hydrothopter

Picture of Anatomy of the Hydrothopter
There's a big purple MAIN WING in back that does most of the work.
Two UPRIGHTS connect it to the CROSSBEAM.
Four FRAME STICKS connect that to the FORK with two HINGE LASHINGS at the EYEBOLT and HANDLEBAR.
At the very front of the machine is the SURFACE FEELER, a wooden disk that skips a long the surface of the water. It's bolted to the FRONT STRUT and sets the angle of attack of the FRONT WING, also called the CANARD WING.
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Dr.Webb1 year ago
like to see a video
MZ981 year ago

Is there anyplace where I can find the bolt or screw measurements for this?

zmatt8 years ago
So did you basically just sand down the board to closely match the airfoil? I was thinking about building a hydrofoil boat powered by a 55lb thust trolling motor, do you think that would work at all?
TimAnderson (author)  zmatt6 years ago
yes it would work! Just make sure your wings are big enough to get to liftoff at a speed your motor can achieve
What is the best distance you have been able to achieve in this?
Also, is it possible to ride continuously if you have the energy or does it get slower by itself?
vanpaun3 years ago
I've been working on my own for the past couple weeks, using 1/2 inch galvinized steel pipe for a lot of the framework. It has come out quite nice (if I might say so myself), but I am having some issues. How important is it for the fork to flex? Does it have to flex, or is being able to pivot a couple degrees ok?

Also, how important is it for the wings to be exact? Ie, my front wing definitely has a teardrop shape, its just a little bit flat.

I'll post some pics of it soon.
TruthHunter3 years ago
When I look at the Canard, I don't see the dimension between the pivot
point and the leading edge of the canard wing. Or should it be the ratio to the Feeler arm and the Canard foil? It looks like its about 3"
zigzagchris4 years ago
Allways enjoyed the science behind these but never would want one. Looks like to much work and a bit silly but still fun. Im much happier in my kayak. Think my camp would enjoy one tho.
useraaaaa4 years ago

i really believed that is possible/ (to not to pay $800 for aquaskipper)
TruthHunter4 years ago
I am curious about the efficiency of this baby compared to the Aquaskipper.
I noticed that Sahlin(original inventor) went through a lot of iterations before
getting long distances out of these. Is it that hard to get efficiency?
Did you ever use it again after the video?

Of course the "holy grail" of this type of device would be one that could be restarted from deep water without massive floats.

A rough calculation shows that loading on the main foil is about 1/2 lb per square
inch. this puts about 60-70 lbs on the approx 2 feet that extend past the upright.
Most any board should be just fine until you stomp on a rock stopping in shallow
I was going to cobble one together until I saw all my boards had dried with a twist.
Has anyone duplicated this baby?
macgyverfan5 years ago
Try japanese interlocking techniques and gorilla glue. no nails are used and it wont slip like lashings.
ewilhelm8 years ago
The thing that really amazes me about this is craft is that it could have been built centuries ago. No space-age materials or techniques are required - just a set of drawings and traditional boat-building techniques. Straight out of Da Vinci's notebooks into the water!
Hugo.B ewilhelm8 years ago
The thing that really amazes me about this is craft is that it could have been built centuries ago. No space-age materials or techniques are required - just a set of drawings and traditional boat-building techniques.

No. They a) didn't have the design skills, or b) simply didn't see the need for such an outlandish sport.

Though Da Vinci would have been a good designer for this.

ewilhelm Hugo.B8 years ago
Suggesting that people centuries ago didn't have the design skills is trite and uniformed. Simply because they didn't do something is not proof that they were unable to do something. All good designers recognize the power of serendipity. Beyond that, the point of my comment was that you could hand the drawings of this craft to a boat-builder of 1000 years ago, and he would have success replicating it. To your second point, the driving force behind this is to better understand aerodynamics and the possibilities of human powered flight. This is something that people have obviously been thinking about for ages. Perhaps your comment wasn't intended to sound so negative, but try to imagine new and exciting possibilities rather than arbitrarily shutting them off.
cylver ewilhelm8 years ago
Actually, the bit about the design skills is fairly accurate, as the physics behind aerodynamic (or hydrodynamic) foils wasn't accurately understood until the early 20th century. While it's not totally unthinkable that someone before then could have built something like this, it's unlikely.
ewilhelm cylver8 years ago
You've missed the point, too. Talking about how people didn't make this craft thousands of years ago because they didn't understand aerodynamics is uninteresting and obvious. We're not digging these things up all along the coast. What is interesting is that Tim used only materials and techniques available thousands of years ago to make a pretty advanced craft. I think that is really interesting. What other objects do you use that with only a drawing could have been built thousands of years ago?
cylver ewilhelm8 years ago
Well, yeah... Crystal radios, floating arm trebuchets, copper-zinc batteries, heck, even an internal combustion engine that uses alcohol as fuel could have been made with the right combination of craftsmanship, inspiration and (say) iron or bronze age materials. But to leave the available prior art out of the overall view of development is a bit shortsighted. A person thousands of years ago wouldn't know WHY the hydrofoil had to be shaped the way it is, and the leap from birds flying to personal watercraft isn't exactly very intuitive. In short, while the material science and construction technology involved in a given project such as this one is minimal, the other disciplines (and inspiration) needed to invent something like it aren't similarly trivial.
Marcos cylver8 years ago
Let's not forget that people have been making boats (ocean going ones, at that) for thousands of years. The hulls, and rudders certainly had to be fairly hydrodynamic, not to mention mastery of aerodynamics for sails. The Chinese junk rig is said to still be one of the most efficient there is. But I digress. I helped build the front end of the wooden hydrofoil. Tim and I used power tools (you should see what he can do with just a grinder!), but short of some threaded fasteners, it could have easily been built with the hand tools of yore.
Marcos, the junk rig certainly has some very desirable characteristics, but efficiency (at least in the matter of driving force) is not one of them.
Dr.Bill Marcos5 years ago
I don't know what to think anymore.
cylver Marcos8 years ago
As to the threaded fasteners, it's possible to do some pretty amazing things with interlocking wooden pegs.
_soapy_ cylver8 years ago
Internal combustion was demonstarted with gunpowder long before liquid fuels were a success, and the steam engine was made well over 1000 years ago, in the form of a sphere that spun when heated by a fire. You couldn't build a crystal radio without copper (or other) wire and a knowledge of the fundamental properties of the cat's whisker material. Plus, without modern high-powered transmissions, you would hear nothing, not even static, as the radio band was pretty dead back then! The FAT is completely un-workable as a military device, scale it up big and you have real issues with any way to reset the system in a timely manor. Copper-zinc batteries were known long before anyone understood how they worked, and there is a perpetual motion machine that runs to this day. The trick is, it uses a sealed jar and a small pendulum as the charge carrier, between two poles of a copper-zinc cell! This could have been built. It might have been. However, it is useless as anything more than a toy of the rich and idle (by which I mean, you don't spend all day trying to make enough bread to eat, or are trapped as slave or fuedal labour) since it has no military use! One man can go how far? 50 yards unladen? Since a crossbow (which uses the same sort of spring ideas seen here) goes further than that, I'd say forget it for crossing moats. However, I love the project, and Tim, you are my kind of loon!
How is the FAT unworkable as a military device? Please elaborate.
Well, for one thing, we now have gunpowder. Back then, however, I really doubt that they could have reset a 10 ton (or more) mass used for a FAT. The way that the trebs were reset was by pulling the arms over with a few ropes, so getting huge leverage on the mass. But the FAT mass isn't directly connected to the arm (hence the name) so you would need some other, huge and expensive system to re-raise the mass, and then you would have to reset the arm as well. And the reset lifting system couldn't go above the mass, as it would be in the way of the arm. So not really, to my mind, practical as a war machine. And you didn't need them inside the castle to fire back, since you had your own machines raised above your enemies machines up on your walls, so you had greater range already.
Floating Arm Trebuchet refers to the fact that the throwing arm is attached to a set of wheels. The counterweight is still attached to the opposite end of the throwing arm relative to the projectile. You can still return the machine to the loading position by pulling (or pushing, in the case of the few small ones I've built) down on the end of the throwing arm opposite the CW.

That one you have linked to (made?) is absolutely beautiful! It's not the design for a FAT I'd seen before. Most of them were, I thought, that the arm was on a pivot, with the mass dropping vertically on a guide, and not directly pinned to the arm. Either way, that axle on wheels and a steel pivot for the mass is going to be a real issue with a military size mass on the other end, in the middle ages The best they could have done was probably a cart wheel or two and a stubby forge iron axle. This means that it wouldn't have been practical as anything large. Don't get me wrong, 100 yards is pretty hot for only 470lbs, but if you wanted to get up to 300 yards with a larger projectile, you would probably start to have issues with bending those steel pivot points too.
Yeah !
oooh proved wrong by the founder of ibles
Indeed. Who would have thought that a falliable human could get something so wrong? Personally, I keep wondering why there are timestamps on posts - doesn't really make much sense, does it?
Hugo.B ewilhelm8 years ago
I certainly agree with your point about a boat builder being to reproduce it a century ago, I think I was forgetting that they were very advanced in the boat building department then. So I'm wrong about (a).

the driving force behind this is to better understand aerodynamics and the possibilities of human powered flight.

I missed that when I read the instructable, but in that case it would be more of a research platform than an "outlandish sport".

arbitrarily shutting them off.
Far be the thought!

ewilhelm Hugo.B8 years ago
I missed that when I read the instructable, but in that case it would be more of a research platform than an "outlandish sport".

Tim isn't always so clear with his intentions, so I can see how that might be easy to miss.
Dr.Bill Hugo.B5 years ago
Yeah !
Yeah !
stevennhl5 years ago
does it matter what kind of wood you use?
hammacher schlemmer sells these
kaiwilliams6 years ago
What made you chose one profile over another?
TimAnderson (author)  kaiwilliams6 years ago
A section with no hollows in it is a lot easier to shape. If the trailing edge doesn't get too thin, it's less likely to break or cut you. There are other concerns like lift/drag ratio, stall speed, etc. which you can estimate with xfoil or other utilities. I didn't get too concerned with that. I just wanted something strong and easy to shape that was similar to foils on the commercial unit. It turned out to be good enough.
bluenik6 years ago
Could you tell me how wide is the crossbeam (where you stand on)?
bluenik6 years ago
You are a legend.
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