Introduction: How to Make a Hovercraft
- Brief Overview
This article is about how to process materials and assemble a DIY hovercraft. You can control it with a PS2 remote control. After assembling all the materials together, you should test the hovercraft and adjust the balance. The total cost of this hovercraft is about RMB 1000.
We are undergraduates who major in engineering. In the course “Intro to Engineering”, we learnt from our professors that a making a hovercraft was full of fun and not too difficult for us. During the process, we enjoyed making the hovercraft so much and gained a lot of engineering knowledge. Therefore, we provide this manual to you so that you can share the joy with us.
- Difficulty Level and Audience
This manual is prepared for anyone who is interested in engineering. It is not too difficult, but you have to have basic knowledge on programming and electronic materials. You also need to have enough patience to complete every complex step. Children under 14 need to finish this project with the help from adults.
- Time Requirement
This hovercraft will take you 20 hours, or less than 15 hours if you are experienced in handicraft tools.
Electronic speed controller -ESC
High-density Foam board
Arduino sensor shield for UNO
Sony PS2 controller
& Carbon Stick
Voltage regulator module
Low-voltage alarm apparatus
Electric soldering iron suite
Li-battery balance charger
M2/M3 screws and nuts
Hot-melt Glue Gun
1mm Iron wire
We organized the steps by the assembling order, and each step will cost you about 1~2 hours. Please make sure that you have read this manual carefully before you start. Buy all the materials before you assemble the hovercraft!
Step 1: Get Familiar With the Hovercraft
The first picture is the front picture of the hovercraft and the second picture is the right-side picture of the hovercraft. Make the figure with 3d max.
Step 2: Cut the Main Body
l Make the wooden deck
Cut the wood board into 250*180 mm with an organic glass knife.
Be careful with the knife!
Cut a 58*32mm hole whose left side is 80mm from the left side of the board.
This board will be the deck of the hovercraft.
Figure 2.1 shows the blueprint for the deck
l Make the air cushion
Turn on the endotherm knife and heat it for 5 minutes.
Cut the foam board into 230mm*180mm with the endotherm knife.
Turn off the endotherm knife immediately after using it, and always keep it away from fire goods.
Hollow the board with only 40mm from the outer side as the picture shows.
Figure 2.2 shows the blueprint for the air cushion
l Stick the towel strips
Cut some towel strips into the same size as the air cushion.
Stick them to the bottom of the cushion with glue.
Attach the deck to the air cushion and wait for the glue dries out.
Figure 2.3 shows the air cushion of the hovercraft
The towel strips help increase the fiction between the hovercraft and the ground which make it easier to control. If you play your hovercraft on rough ground, you can ignore the towel.
Step 3: Cut the Motor Stand
Cut the foam board into a trapezoid with 100mm
in top, 180mm in bottom and 100mm in height.
Cut a circle in the middle with a radius of 32mm.
The distance from the bottom of the trapezoid to the center of the circle is 55mm.
Cut a rectangle hole at the point of 25mm from the bottom, 45mm to the right.
The size of the hole is 25*10 mm.
Figure 3.1 shows the motor stand.
Step 4: Install the Lifting Fan
- Prepare the lifting fan
In your hovercraft, the lifting fan is connected with the battery without the electronic speed controller.
You need a voltage stabilizer to control the power of the lifting fan.
Replace the Dupont plug of your lifting fan with a T-plug to suit the battery.
- Weld the voltage stabilizer
Remove the original connector using a tong. You will get two bare wires.
Tie the bare wires onto the output port of the voltage stabilizer.
Weld the wire to the voltage stabilizer with an electric soldering iron.
Figure 4.1 shows the finished lifting fan with voltage stabilizer and T-plug
Be careful with the electric soldering iron!
In the same way, seal another two wires to the input pins of the voltage stabilizer.
- Insert the lifting fan
Fix the lifting fan into the hole cut in step 2 with hot melt glue.
Step 5: Make Rudders
- Assemble a single rudder
Cut two paulownia boards into 50mm*30mm and two the carbon tubes into 55mm.
Stick the carbon tube on each rudder with superglue.
Wear gloves to keep the glue away from your skin.
Stick hinges on each rudder as shown in the picture.
You may use a screw to make this.
Figure 5.1 shows an assembled rudder board
- Connect the rudders
Attach the wire holder to the carbon stick.
Adjust the total length of wire holder and carbon stick.
Tighten the screw on the holder.
Make sure that the distance between two ends of rudders is the same as the centers of the holes on the main board for bearings.
The rudders should form a parallelogram.
Figure 5.2 shows a set of finished rudders
Connect two rudders with the carbon stick by the hinges.
Bend a length of iron wire in three rows like the picture.
Put the ends of the wire into the carbon tubes without extra length on the sides.
Figure 5.3 shows the way to add iron wire
Step 6: Import Codes to Arduino
- Install Arduino IDE
Download Arduino IDE from http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
Connect the Arduino Board to your computer with a USB cable.
If the Arduino Board connects correctly, you will be able to choose the Board and Serial Port.
- Upload the code
Copy the code in the appendix into Arduino IDE.
Click the second round button with a right arrow (upload) to upload the code to Arduino UNO.
After the LED on the Arduino Board stops flashing, you can disconnect the Arduino Board from your computer.
Step 7: Connect Wires
- Connect electronic speed controller, motor and battery.
Connect according to the shape of plugs.
You don't need to care for the order of three wires on the motor.
If the motor's rotating direction is wrong, exchange the connection of any two wires.
- Tie the motor and the servo to the Arduino board using Dupont wires.
Connect the white wire on the electronic speed controller to pin 6, the red wire to a 5V pin and black wire to GND.
These pins are settled together on the shield board.
Connect the servo to pin 5 on the board in the same way.
Wrong connection of 5V and GND wires can cause short circuit and destroy your Arduino UNO!
- PS2 controller.
Connect the receiver to Arduino board like figure 7.1. The figure comes from http://www.eefocus.com/zhang700309/blog/14-04/303206_f9554.html
Step 8: Assemble the Hovercraft
- Assemble the board and tunnel.
Insert the tunnel fan to the fan stander.
Stabilize it with hot-melt glue.
Stick the motor stand onto the board.
Hold the iron wire which connects to the rudder.
Move it across the hole on the motor stand.
Settle the rudders to the vertical position
Insert the bearings into the prepared small holes on the board.
Insert the carbon tubes into these bearings.
Fix the servo, and connect it to the rudder puller by the iron wire.
Figure 8.1 shows how to stick the lifting fan and fix the servo
- Stick elements onto the board.
Use one piece of Velcro to reserve place for batteries and Arduino separately.
Stick the other piece of Velcro to the elements.
Stick them onto the board.
Figure 8.2 shows the finished hovercraft
Step 9: Adjust the Balance
- Test the voltage of the air blower.
Connect the air blower to the battery.
Slightly push the hovercraft by your hands.
If the hovercraft runs too fast or flies discretionary, lower the voltage of the voltage regulator module.
If it keeps contact with the ground and stays still, increase the voltage of the voltage regulator module.
Adjust until you hovercraft moves stable with a suitable speed.
- Test the gravity distribution on the main body.
Drive your hovercraft on a plain surface.
If it always turns left, move your batteries to the right.
If it turns left, move batteries to the left.
Test it until the hovercraft moves in a straight line.
If one side of the hovercraft touches the ground continuously, move all components on the main body to the opposite direction slightly.
Now, you have finished this hovercraft. Have fun with your friends!
Step 10: Appendix
- Arduino code:
int angle, velocity=60, upforce,goorstop;
void setup()//The set up of the arduino board
ps2x.read_gamepad();//Read the gamepad
if(ps2x.Button(PSB_PAD_UP)) //If the button up is keeping pressed, set the speed of the motor as 69(of course, you can change it).
if(ps2x.ButtonReleased(PSB_PAD_UP))/*If the button up is released, set the speed of the motor as 20(For our motor, 20 means it is
turned off. But it may be different for difficult kinds of motors)*/
if(ps2x.Button(PSB_PAD_DOWN))// If the button down is keeping pressed, set the speed of the motor as 66(a lower speed).
if(ps2x.ButtonReleased(PSB_PAD_DOWN)) //If the button up is released, set the speed of the motor as 20
if(ps2x.Button(PSB_R1))//If the button R1 is keeping pressed, set the servo to 135°
if (ps2x.ButtonReleased (PSB_R1))// If the button R1 is released, set the servo to 90°
if(ps2x.Button(PSB_L1))//If the button L1 is keeping pressed, set the servo to 45°
if (ps2x.ButtonReleased (PSB_L1))// If the button L1 is released, set the servo to 90°