Introduction: Radio Controlled Cardboard Hovercraft

Picture of Radio Controlled Cardboard Hovercraft

This is a radio controlled hovercraft with an all cardboard body, and  plastic skirt. This hovercraft is highly maneuverable, and extremely simplistic in design. Since the design of this hovercraft includes swap-able motors and other electronics, the electronics can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle thus reducing costs. The environmental impact of building this hovercraft is minimal since cardboard (renewable), and plastic (recyclable) are two major aspects of the design. Due to the electric nature of this hovercraft, no Carbon Dioxide emissions are released. 

Step 1: Secure the Supplies

Picture of Secure the Supplies

To make this hovercraft, you will need a/an:

1. 18A Brushless ESC(Electronic Speed Control)  (banana connectors/heat sink tubing may be needed)
2.  8.4 gram Servo
3. 37gram 1300 KV Motor
4. Lithium Polymer Battery: 2-3 Cells
5. radio reciever/ transmitter 
6. ~1cm wooden cylinder/rod
7. 8*4 8*3.8 ( 8in diameter propeller, 4 in pitch propeller) 
8. cardboard box
9. tape
10. hot glue
11. plastic bag(zip lock, or any other flat flexible bag that can be sealed)
12. scissors/X-Acto cutting blade
13. clevices, control rods of some kind
The ESC, servo, and motor can be obtained from this link directly. Depending on stock, the battery, receiver and transmitter may be available from this site also.

Step 2: Solder All Electronics, and Make Sure the Reciever and Transmitter Bind

Picture of Solder All Electronics, and Make Sure the Reciever and Transmitter Bind

1. Depending on your electronics, you may need a soldering gun to solder joints between the Motor, ESC, and battery. Always use JST, or any other style connector for your battery to ESC connection. The gold pieces seen in the first picture to the top are banana connectors that transfer power from the ESC( in blue) to the motor. Basically,

Power from the battery to the ESC to the receiver to the motor and the servos
*Power from the receiver to the motor must go back through the ESC to get back to the motor.

only one servo is needed to make this hovercraft

2. After all joints are soldered, plug in the receiver connectors(located in the center of the first picture) from the servo and ESC into the actual receiver (last picture). Make sure the motor and servo work when under the control of the transmitter. In other words bind the transmitter to the receiver and make sure "everything works."

Step 3: Assemble the Hardware

Picture of Assemble the Hardware

1. Using a flat closed plastic bag, mark the bag with the dimensions listed. The actual bag should be about 16in x 14in.
2. Cut 3 inches into the actual bag's length and width. (leave an extra inch to provide a surface for the cardboard to rest)
Also, to clarify, cut completely through the bag.
3.Cut a piece of cardboard 12in x 10in. 
4. Cut a 2in x 8in hole in the cardboard panel (as seen in the 5th picture from the top.
5. Create an inlet to force air into the plastic bag(skirt). The inlet should be at least 8 in long and 4 in wide for the propeller. 
6.Attach the motor to a wooden rod and secure it to the craft thus allowing swap-ablilty to the motor 
7.Create a vertical stabilizer with a rudder and add any supporting pieces if necessary.
8.Glue down the vertical stablizer
9. Attach the rudder to the servo using connecting rods or cables.
10. Tape down all other electronics to the back of the inlet to ensure swap-ablilty of electronics
11. Glue the plastic bag(skirt) to the cardboard panel
12. Make a cover over the battery (as seen in the last picture) so that it stays put.
*Few dimensions are given for these steps, because there are few critical dimensions necessary for the hovercraft to function. Experiment  with the dimensions to see which works best for you.

Step 4: Test the Cardboard Hovercraft

Here' a short clip of the Hovercraft in action. Thank you, the Instructables Team, for allowing world-wide sharing of ideas.

*If you're using the Instructables App, use this link to view the video.


Step 5: Updates

Picture of Updates
RC Cardboard Hovercraft V1.5

1. Detachable hovercraft skirt
  • The detachable hovercraft skirt enables you to modify the hovercraft without having to make a new skirt each time. This update also allows for easier transport, and a more efficient way to clean the hovercraft skirt.
2.Battery Shifting
  • Shifting the battery left and right in the hovercraft allows for more maneuverability in turns. This feature uses the key element of variable weight distribution to shift the hovercraft left and right.
Here's a link to the video featuring the updates.

Special Thanks to Cesar M. for his help in the Battery Shifting concept. 


Alaa HR (author)2017-03-27

Very Nice..! i did very fast can check it on my page :)

Pib2 (author)Alaa HR2017-04-29

I saw it, it looks really great!

Profinstructables (author)2015-04-18

it's an awesome project

wnq (author)2015-01-31

design very smart!

PCfreak (author)2013-03-09

video is broken

Pib2 (author)PCfreak2013-03-11

If you're using the Instructables site on a desktop, or laptop, the video should work. If you're using the Instructables App, I have provided a link to view the video

PCfreak (author)Pib22013-07-17

ok well it first says that embeding disabled by request , is what i was tryin to say but very cool instructible tho

vj2592 (author)2013-05-01

Can i get further details about this ??

Pib2 (author)vj25922013-05-04

What would you like me to expand on?

Matt428 (author)2013-04-19


Pib2 (author)Matt4282013-04-19

I value your support.

ayalahighschool (author)2013-03-17

Awesome job

Pib2 (author)ayalahighschool2013-03-20


Computothought (author)2013-03-11


Pib2 (author)Computothought2013-03-12


ynze (author)2013-03-10

Wow! Wannahavewannamake!

Pib2 (author)ynze2013-03-12

Thanks a lot!

NightHawkInLight (author)2013-03-10

Neat. You may have inspired me to make my own version. If I do I will credit you for the idea.

Pib2 (author)NightHawkInLight2013-03-11

Awesome! I'm just trying to reduce CO2 emissions, and encourage the growth of sustainable, reusable, or recyclable products one view at a time.


Pib2 (author)PeckLauros2013-03-11


steamjunkprops (author)2013-03-10

check out for some cheap rc gear

Pib2 (author)steamjunkprops2013-03-11

Thanks for contributing sources.

PeckLauros (author)2013-03-09

Well done!

Pib2 (author)PeckLauros2013-03-11

Thank you!

rimar2000 (author)2013-03-09


Pib2 (author)rimar20002013-03-11


rens24 (author)2013-03-09

If you added in an extra servo on another channel you could make it so the fan is directed completely into the piece of cardboard that funnels it into the skirt and then use the servo to open up new slit/hole that would allow for varied forward thrust while still keeping the fan at full power and bag inflated at all times.

I would try to create this to demonstrate, but I don't have all the necessary hardware. It would be cool if you included a link to an affordable Transmitter / RX to go with the kit of the motor, servos, and ESC. Good work though!

Pib2 (author)rens242013-03-11

Here's a link to multiple transmitters. Just Copy and Paste.

You can even check eBay, or amazon

gungriffonbr (author)2013-03-09

hummm i curious about plastic bag skirt? at bottom part have any air leak?

Pib2 (author)gungriffonbr2013-03-11


Kiteman (author)2013-03-09

That's awesome. Shame you disabled embedding on the video, though. 

The balance seems a little off, especially at low speed. Maybe mount the battery pack further forward?

Pib2 (author)Kiteman2013-03-11

I balanced the battery pack so the craft would be tail heavy, because that was the optimum setting for a low turn radius, and good handling. I will try to research your question further, and give you a better answer.

About This Instructable




Bio: Imagine___Design___Build___Test___ Post //with enlightening purpose
More by Pib2:3D Printed Servo Receptacle for Durability The Flying Gyro Stabilized VTOL Cardboard BoxRadio Controlled Cardboard Hovercraft
Add instructable to: