RC Hovercraft Everyone Can Build!





Introduction: RC Hovercraft Everyone Can Build!

About: I'm a student studying engineering at Canterbury University in New Zealand. with a passion for renewable energy, electronics and almost all engineering. I have access to a full workshop both metalwork and wo...
Hovercrafts are a great little project for those looking for something a little unusual. This is made out of materials you would find lying round home plus a couple of cheap easy to get electronics if you don't already have them. This hovercraft is capable of going over water, ice, snow, short grass, concrete and other hard surfaces.

  • Chilly bin lid (for base)
  • Plastic bags. (for skirt)
  • Tape
  • Hot glue
  • Balsa wood
  • Your choice of electronics (two motors with speed controllers and propellers, servo for steering, receiver and transmitter, and battery)
  • thin plastic or plywood ( for bottom of hovercraft that directs the air to the skirt and rudders)
  • assorted pieces of wire for control rods.
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun
Sorry the video has the writing in the middle, my silly video editor.


Step 1: Base and Skirt

The base is the lid of a polystyrene box that looked about the right size, it had a nice grove around the perimeter that i used to direct the air from inside the hovercraft, out into the surrounding skirt.
A thin layer of plastic was glued around the inside ridge so the air from the fan was directed though the groves cut out to the skirt, it also stopped water filling the skirt when the craft was moving forward.

To construct the Skirt plastic rubbish bags were cut out flat then into 150mm wide strips. Two half pieces of a pvc pipe with a 45 degree angle on the end were used as a template for cutting and taping the corners of the skirt together to get a clean shape, this isn't necessary but is useful. lastly a 20mm by 75mm hole was cut into the bottom plastic panel, this was to let air into the bottom of the hovercraft to make it hover, this could also be done by putting holes in the skirt, but i found this just as effective, and didn't make the skirt at risk to ripping.

Step 2: Steering!

All that is needed to complete the steering is some 5mm dowel, icecream container, hot-glue and two paperclips.

Cut two 140mmX70mm rectangles out of the ice cream container, this will be our rudder fins.  Cut a slit about 5mm from the back of the fins about 10mm up from the bottom and bend them up to 90 degrrees so they face each other. Poke a small hole in each of these little tabs you just made and straighten out a paperclip and bend the ends down so that they are 70mm apart. this is to link these two fins together, this will make the rudders move a the same time.

Make a second tab about 45mm from the back edge about 5mm wide on one rudder, this will be connected to the servo.

For the frame cut two pieces of dowel 180mm long and two 50mm long. Poke the two 180mm long parts 70mm apart, 20mm into the polystyrene at the rear of the base then use the small pieces as supports and glue it all in place.

To join the rudder fins onto the frame place three dots of hot glue on the fins equally spaced at the top middle and senter of the hinged side, then press it against the frame and pull in and out about 2mm. This create a thin section of hot glue that will act as a hinge.

Lastly bend the second paper clip so it's straight with  one end bent down and one sideways, this will be the link between the rudders and the servo.

Step 3: Eletronics!

The electronics you put on your craft can vary quite a lot, i just had some old brushless motors lying around about 2900kv so not very big but they worked fine. once your motors are installed you may want to add a chamfer around the lift fan to allow a bit more air flow.

List of electronic components i used:
  • Two Turnigy 1811 2900kv brushless motors with matching propellers and Turnigy 6A plush speed controllers.
  • Hextronik HXT500 9g servo
  • Turnigy nano-tech 2 cell 850mAh Li-po battery
  • Four channel or higher radio transmitter and receiver ( i have a spectrum 5e transmitter with a AR500 receiver)
First glue the lift fan to the plastic bottom in the center of the hole in the base, this may need a little reinforcing with balsa wood to stop the bottom flexing. The thrust fan needs a mount to hold it above the base so it doesn't hit the lift fan or base, this was just a scrape of balsa wood glued into the base the the motor was just glued on the front. The thrust fan can now be mounted, make sure the blades wont touch as both motors spin.

The lift fan speed control was plugged into the throttle channel so it didnt require holding and the thrust fan was controlled by the elevator control  and rudder went into the rudder channel.

Try to keep your hovercraft balanced in the center, this makes it rise evenly and hover well on water so keep your battery in the center.

Step 4: Have Fun!

Depending on the power of your thrust motor you should be able to go quiet fast on water and hard surfaces and if you have heaps of power maybe over grass and gravel but gravel and rough concrete tear up the skirt quickly.

I am pleased how this turned out and i was surprised of smoothly it ran.  It turns sharp and hovers very well. Next time i would make the skirt out of something more resilient like sail material or even just heavier plastic bags, as on rough concrete and gravel the skirt gets holes quickly.

Here is a short video, sorry for the writing in the middle of the screen, my movie editor put it there.




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    I didn't have any proper props when i made this, so for the thrust motor i used a small helicopter blade and for lift it was a three bladed 5X3. to get the right props look on the specs for the motors.

    I cant find the

    • Hextronik HXT500 9g servo
    • would it be fine if i used HXT500 Micro Servo 0.6kg / 0.08sec / 6.2g

    Hey can I contact you? I want to build this for my project. Can you give me your email?

    about how much does all this cost

    Um incase you haven't noticed a hovercraft is to ride not to have it as an rc car

    2 replies

    That's 100% WRONG! A hovercraft can be any CRAFT that HOVERS, hence the name HOVERCRAFT. A ride-able hovercraft is fun, but RC ones are too. They are sold in many stores. My cousin has a toy RC hovercraft that can go on water and stuff.

    Don't spoil the fun. It can be for whatever you want it to be for, not just to ride on.

    hay do you think you could make one and sell it to me

    1 reply

    wouldn't really be worth it for things i just had lying round home. you should be able to make your own easy enough!


    Well Its never going to leave the ground because the cushion of air it rides on will disappear, but the constant flow of air that flows out under the skirt and the positive pressure inside the skirt make it almost completely frictionless on hard surfaces like a concrete or wooden floor. So much that it will scoot along with a blow of your breath.

    thanks man. I'll try to build it. does it actually hover off the ground or foes the skirt hold it up

    you know how you cut holes in the plastic. I'm a little confused, how did you keep water put of it and where and what size did you cut them.

    1 reply

    the hole on the bottom was 2cmX10cm. water didn't come in while it was running because the skirt lifts this part of the hovercraft out of the water and if i stop then start again the water is forced out by the air.

    Hey would a tarp instead of a robbery plastic bag work the same and not tear up so fast for the skirt? I love this idea and want to build it. I voted for it in all the contests and I would like to know how you enter a contest. I would also like to know how much all the materials costed, especially the electronic stuff. Thanks

    1 reply

    yea sure it would, it may not inflate as nicely because its a little less flexible but will work still.

    Thanks for your votes!
    to enter an instructables in a contest, it must be published after the start of the contest. then you just click the contests you want to be in when you publish it.

    The electronics are priced quite reasonable if you get it all from the right place. I get all my electronics from hobbyking.com as it is really cheap, like a couple of dollars for each motor. All the other materials i just found around the house.

    The title says that everyone can build it. Can I? I'm thirteen. I really would want to build one of these, just incase of some emergencies...

    1 reply

    Sure you can, i'm only 17. all you need is some plastic bags, polystyrene and ice cream containers or some other ridged plastic and some paperclips, electronics can be purchased from a local model shop or online, all of its Farly cheap.
    I encourage you to give it a go, even if it isn't a complete success you will still learn lots. :)

    If you run into troubles im happy to help, just message me!



    What's a 2900kv motor? Looks like a fun project just not sure of the parts list!