Introduction: Hovercraft Model No. 2

In this instructable, I'll go through what I did to acheive greater balance than the standard hovercraft. I havn't done anything for propulsion, however this can be acheived without much difficulty. One of my goals of this model was to have the ability to tote it around in my car (a saturn) as well as support my weight.

Step 1: Acquire Materials

Picture of Acquire Materials

This project isn't nearly as inexpensive as my first model. This model cost over $150 with all new parts and took about 13 hours to build and 3 trips to home depot.
3 Pre-cut Particle Board Circles 2 foot diameter (3.68 each)
5 Street Elbow 90° Fittings 3" (3.38 each)
4 Hub to Hub Elbow 90° Fittings 3" (2.19 each)
3 Flanges 3" (2.99 each)
1 Double T 3" Fitting (13.78)
1 Five and a half by 7.5 tarp 10 mil thick (6.98)
1 Ten foot PVC Tube 3" (12.08)
total cost (before tax): 158.41
The leafblower I got as a gift (my friends know me well) but it fit snuggly inside the 3" pvc tube.

Step 2: Making the Hoverpad

Picture of Making the Hoverpad

This step will be broken into two parts, the first prepping the pad, the second is adding the skirt. Propping the pad involve the particle board circle, a 3" hole saw and a flange. For the ease of materials we can save the wood circle cut from the hole saw for the skirt. Make sure you save it.
This step will need to be repeated for each pad you use. This model has 3 pads.
First you'll want to find the center of your particle board. Knowing the diameter of your particle board, just measure 2 lines that are that length and their intersection point is the center.
Then, on a radius line (from center to edge) measure half the distance and add an inch or 2 towards the edge. I've found in my experience that offsetting the air input towards the edge, while sacrificing balance, seems to work better.
Then, using the holesaw, cut on the marked line. Remember to save thepiece that is cut out.

Step 3: Adding the Skirt

Picture of Adding the Skirt

In this step I'll describe and illustrate the most simple skirt one can make for a hovercraft, the bag skirt. This has ease of initial making, but for repairs, it takes more time and money. But for proof of concept, this works fine. Now, additional materials you'll need here, which you'll likely find around the house include twine, a permanent marker, scissors, a glass (plastic cup), and a tape measure. This step isn't hard, but time consuming to do right, especially without a compass.

Lay out your tarp, this will help you have the least amount of waste when drawing and cutting your skirts.
Measure out a length of twine greater than 1.5 times the radius of your particle board pad (mine had a radius of 12")
Tie the twine to your parmanent marker (sharpie in the image) Measure out 1.5 times the radius of your pad and mark it.
--Congrats you've made a makeshift compass--
Use your compass to trace a circle onto your tarp. (mark your center, it will help in later steps)
Cut out the circle.
Make 4 radius lines at 90° to eachother from the center point.
Measure out from the center, a distance of 1/2 the pads radius + the radius of the wodd circle you saved from cutting the hole for the flange. (In my case approx. 8.5"), mark this point
Trace your cup over the marked point attempting to make the cups center matches the marked point.
Repeat for each radius line and then cut out the traced cup circles.

Step 4: Securing the Skirt

Picture of Securing the Skirt

This step I don't have many pictures of, but its fairly simple to do.

Duct tape (or sand I suppose) the edges of the wood insert from the holesaw. Then match the center of the wood insert, the skirt and the pad. Making sure the skirt is between the wood insert and the pad. Run a screw through the center to secure the skirt in place. Don't worry if its not exactly center, thats why there's extra room on the skirt.
Now rotate the skirt around the center point making sure the holes in the skirt do not line up with the hole in the pad, if they do, you won't get much, if any lift.
At this point you'll want to orient the hovercraft pad so the wood insert is on the ground.
Fold the skirt up over the top, but do not pull it tight, you'll want to leave slack so you have your cushion of air in your skirt bag. Staple it into place. I used TC-50 stapes and hammered them flush.
Go around the entire skirt folding over the skirt as evenly as possible, stapling each fold into place. Then duct tape over the edge and staples. This is a primative manner to seal it, but its sufficient for proving the concept. You will likely need to duct tape more after your first run to seal any leaks.
The first picture shows a close-up of the top of the hovercraft pad after it has been duct taped.
Now you have the pad done.

Step 5: Assembling the Pieces

Picture of Assembling the Pieces

At this point you should have crafted your initial materials and have the following key pieces:
3 Hovercraft pads
A bunch of PVC fittings
1 leaf blower

Now you can start making the hovercraft... seem more like a hovercraft.

I started just conceptualizing how hard it would be to get a balanced hovercraft, and this design, which I've lovingly dubbed a lily-pad design seemed to work wonders. The first image shows how I assembled the pvc pieces. I cut short lengths of pvc to go in the hub to hub pvc connections, you could buy the right pieces, but after three trips to home depot and 10 hours of work (including my lunch and dinner) I just used what I had.
The flanges worked very nicely vor quick assembly, but with all those fittings, a lot of air was lost, I duct-taped each connection, but PVC glue could work too. I would not suggest using the PVC glue or duct-tape to seal the flange connections or the connection to the front pad, this way you can still fit it into your little saturn.
One thing I found while testing the hovecraft is that the engine, while it runs optimally horizontally, wouldn't stay in place so I removed the 90° bend on top of the T and now have it inserted vertically.

This will work, but I added a chair

Step 6: The Chair

I worked as a janitor for several months and in the process acquired many goodies, including a couple dozen folding chairs. This while irrelevant, did not add to the cost of the craft. The basic idea hear is that you can place your balance in the center of the 3 pads and have a much smoother ride. In practice its much more difficult, but what I did was got 2 lengths of 2x4's and ran them from each back pad to the from one. I then set the chair on it and off I went. Unfortunately I've no pictures of this and I'm about 100 miles from my craft as I havn't moved it up with me to my college house.


MillenniumMan (author)2011-02-17

Marty: Here's your hoverboard back kid. (holding pink barbie mattel board)

Little girl: Keep it, I've got a Abyzaran now :)

rhino21 (author)2010-01-23

I want to know how much weight this hovercraft will hold up. I see it says it can hold you up, but I would like some concrete numbers or at least estimates

Abyzaran (author)rhino212010-01-25

This model held up to 180 lbs.  It was not a very efficient use of the leaf blower, which on another model could hold upwards of 250 lbs.  The trade off was stability.  With the three smaller disks, there was less overall concern about balance on this model.  This simple disk shape was definitely more efficient.  If you're building one, the disk shape is also much cheaper :).

rhino21 (author)Abyzaran2010-01-25

How fast does it go?

Abyzaran (author)rhino212010-01-27

I didn't ever get around to propelling this beast, but it would go as fast as I pushed it with minimal drag.  Going ~5 mph I could coast for a while.

jrgcool35 (author)2007-05-26

Why three trips to Home Depot? Cant you just get everything in one trip?

eagle_02 (author)jrgcool352008-04-17

You never just go to Home Depot once. It just does not work that way.

kcy123 (author)eagle_022008-04-19

it depends on how much stuff you need.

botmaster 10 (author)jrgcool352008-04-10

depends on the size and capacity of the car

DeusXMachina (author)jrgcool352008-01-11

:laughter: It's not unusual for my build team (ok it's me and my best friend it's still a build team though :-P) to make 2-3 trips to Depot in the same day, over the course of a several day build. I think the most we've been to in a 24 hour period was Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Curtis Lumber. It's all within 3 miles so we're not killing the environment.

jrgcool35 (author)2007-05-26

I have a feeling you copied this from the myrhbusters show when Adam and Jamie both make hovercrafts. This is Adam's model... If you look at them they are basically the same.

brainiac (author)jrgcool352007-05-27

o i think he did

Abyzaran (author)jrgcool352007-05-26

Well, aside from building this before that mythbuster's aired, yes there are similarities. This is largely due to the fact that there are a finite number of configurations a hovercraft can be built on a budget. And to the three trips comment, theoretically yes, 1 trip would have done it, but I was winging this design, so I was short pieces, the list of materials is my final list over the three trips, to save anyone replicating this the additional 2 trips

Sk8rDuck (author)2006-10-05

On myth busters they made hovercrafts like this. I think they are so cool. I wish I had the time, money and the stuff to make one.

mikecraghead (author)Sk8rDuck2007-05-04

"I wish I had the time, money and the stuff to make one"
Make one of these: Simple Hovercraft works way better than you think; there's nothing like that hovering feeling. No propulsion, but you could use a big stick and push yourself along like they do in Italy. With their hovercrafts.

Just add a small fan to the back, thats what I did.

instructa-fan (author)2007-03-18

does anyone know of a quieter and faster fan for this???????

TheMadScientist (author)2006-10-08

sorry for the bad picture... i cant draw on paint for crap

TheMadScientist (author)2006-10-08

can the air cushon setup be something like this?

Ian01 (author)2006-10-06

Try fastening the center of each piece of tarp to the board. Also try a ring of small holes instead of 4 big ones.

Hovercraft (author)2006-10-06

Good work man. My first model hovercraft about 15 years ago used lift cells (as I called them) similar to yours. My rational was that I could simply add cells to increase cushion area. However, this idea doesn't pan out due to 2 critical issues. 1) the extra ducting required to pull it off increases the weight of the craft (that's a no no). 2) the key to hovercraft payload capacity is the cushion's total area. Using cells instead of a single large cushion, decreases the total area available for lifting the hull. So, two hovercraft design sins are committed at once. Decreasing the payload capacity (the area) while increasing the payload (via the extra ducting). It looks like it was a fun build though. Keep up the good work but maybe consider the purchase of a book such as "Light Hovercraft Design" by Chris Fitzgerald available from the Hoverclub of America to non-members.

Abyzaran (author)Hovercraft2006-10-06

I know normally having greater surface area is better, but I was looking for stability in this model, there's still a lot of work to do, but I've hit a barrier (unemployement & college) so I can't really get my next build going, but I hopefully can before next spring, I've got another cool idea... I'll post as I get to it

Doom_Goat (author)2006-10-05

when you say 'off i went' do you mean you had a propulsion system? ive always been curious as to what could propel a hovercraft

pjax (author)Doom_Goat2006-10-06

a simple fan that blows out back could propel a hovercraft

Abyzaran (author)pjax2006-10-06

you need a lot more force than that. I tried using a boxfan on the highest setting, but that didn't work. I've tried a few different methods of propulsion, but in the end, it was too expensive for me.

cchance (author)Abyzaran2006-10-06

interesting but technically a small fan shouldhvae been able to move you forwad, it would have required less force if you had gotten more lift probably.

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