We know all about hover boards in today's society, or so we think. We see them portrayed in all kinds of media, and even in Back to the Future back in 1985. When people hear hover board they typically think of a skateboard without wheels that magically floats (except over water, poor Marty!). But in this procedure we will be building a hover board using a wooden board and an ice rink tarp, powered by a leaf blower! Using the air's high velocity, and thus great force, we create lift in the board. This high powered air is given only a few exit points underneath the center of the board so that it continuously pushes its way out in all directions. This creates a thin film of air between the floor and tarp, allowing the rider to actually float and be pulled around with almost no friction.
Linked is a video edited together of our members and friends riding around school on the hover board we built over the last few weeks. There is also a video linked made by national geographic comparing their version to ours.
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Step 1: Gather Materials
First and foremost, we must gather the necessary tools and materials to construct our hover board. Many of the materials can be subject to change and sized as desired accordingly.
- 1/2" thick plywood with 4' diameter
- 4 - 2" x 4" wooden blocks
- 6 mm thick ice rink plastic
- Leaf blower
- Extension cord, at least 30'
- 2 D-Rings with Bracket
- Plexi-glass or acrylic circle, 6 cm radius
- Rope, at least 15'
- Hammer tacker
- Several 3/8" staples
- Several 1-1/4" drywall screws
- Several 3" exterior screws
- Roll ice rink repair tape
- 2+ - rolls duct tape
- Power saw and sander
- Safety goggles
Almost all materials and tools were either scrapped or borrowed, excluding steel loop with bracket, ice rink tape, and duct tape. Luckily, all plywood, lumber, and the tools to build this project were all available in our school's workshop. If nothing can be salvaged, approximate costs for cheapest version of materials which can all be found online or at a local hardware store are listed below.
- 30$ for 1/2" thick plywood 4' x 4'
- 4$ for 2" x 4" x 8' lumber
- 9$ for 6' x 8' heavy duty ice rink tarp
- 40$ for cheap electric leaf blower
- 15$ for 30' extension cord
- 2.50$ for 2 D-Ring hooks
- 4$ for 8" x 10" x .05" acrylic sheet
- 15$ for 20' of rope
- 20$ for hammer tacker
- 3$ for pack of 3/8" staples
- 30$ for cheap electric drill
- 6$ for 1 lb. pack of drywall screws
- 6$ for 1 lb. pack of exterior screws
- 10$ for rink repair tape
- 10$ for 2-pack duct tape
- 20$ for 10" saw
- 8$ for assorted pack sandpaper
If purchase of all the tools and materials was necessary, the total cost would add up to about 232$, but as stated, a majority if not all of these items can be salvaged or borrowed. And it is highly recommended that, for safety purposes, you borrow any dangerous tools from someone you know and have a professional do any work with these tools. Since the whole point is to be safe and HAVE FUN!
Step 2: Measure and Cut Plywood and Plastic
We measured our hover board to have a diameter of 4', and measured our rink tarp to have a diameter of 4' 8", making sure our tarp has plenty of extra length and give room that will be needed later. We then cut a 10 cm hole into the plywood for the leaf blower about 1' away from the edge.
Step 3: Cut Holes Into Plastic
First, we need to trace the outline of the plywood circle beneath our ice rink plastic.Then, we are ready to cut our holes. We need a total of 6 air holes in our ice rink plastic. To get these evenly spaced on the plastic, we use the fact that there are 360 degrees in a circle. Therefore, we can divide the 6 holes we need by 360 to get 60 degrees. So each circle's center needs to be 60 degrees apart. To measure this we can use a ruler and a protractor. Start at the center of the circle and draw 6 evenly spaced lines. Once we draw 6 lines from the center of the circle, we put a dot 16 cm from the center. This dot is the center of our new circles that we plan to cut out. Out circles have a one inch radius, so from the dot, we can draw our circles using the compass. Once the circles are drawn, we can cut them out.
Step 4: Cut and Attach Plexi Glass
To make our hover board glide as smoothly as possible, we need to create a donut shape so that the weight is evenly distributed while being ridden. To do this we to attached a 6 cm radius piece of plexi glass to the center of the bottom of the board. We cut the plexi glass using a compass to draw our 6 cm circle and then used the band saw and sand belt to cut and sand our plexi glass. To make sure the plexi glass doesn't rip our ice rink plastic, we duct taped beneath the circle for protection. We pre-drilled three holes of equidistant length from the center into the plexi glass to avoid any cracking of the glass while fastening it down. We then used our 1-1/4" drywall screws to drill secure our plexi glass and plywood.
Step 5: Attach Blower
We screwed in 4 blocks of wood for our blower to sit on using the 3" screws. Once we placed our blower on our hover board, we taped the underside of the hole (Where the air blows out) so that no holes could get torn in our plastic and to secure the leaf blower in place.
Step 6: Staple the Plastic on Board
To make sure we have some slack on our hover board giving room for the air to circulate before exiting, we took a ruler and measured 10 cm from our outline of the plywood on the plastic and put a marker, doing this 20 times around the circle. We then flipped the hover board over and pulled the plastic so that the edges are now over the board and the leaf blower is facing up. We arranged the plastic so that the markers were on the very edge of the plywood and used the staple gun to adhere the plastic to the board, using the marks as our reference points.
Step 7: Seal With Duct Tape
Next we used our duct tape to secure the edges and seal out any holes. We completely taped around the edge of the plastic onto the board, as shown above, in order to close all exit points so that the air can only leave in our self made holes underneath. Once we felt all of the holes were covered with duct tape, we turn our leaf blower on a low setting. If we saw the tape pulling up in any areas, we used the stapler once more and placed more tape over it. Afterwards, we taped around the edge of the board over the plastic numerous times around while pulling the plastic down tightly. This continues to seal the plastic, keeping as much of the air underneath the board as possible.
Step 8: Attach D-Ring and Bracket
In order to alleviate any wear and tear from the leaf blower and the wooden blocks secured around it, we attached two D-rings and brackets on the outer side of the board by the leaf blower. Once pre-drilled and secured, a rope is pulled trough each ring and knotted, which can now be used to pull around your hover board rider.
Step 9: Improvements and Time Spent
Improvements that could be made to our hover board would be a wireless leaf blower. As seen in the videos the rope and extension cord would occasionally get tangled, and was overall just a hassle. Removing the extension cord by using a battery powered leaf blower would eliminate this issue altogether.
Overall, about 35 hours were spent between the four of us over a period of two weeks. This included several free class periods and tenth periods after the school day had come to an end; some days spent until 4 o'clock.
Student 1 spent a total of 13 hours and students 2,3 and 4 each spent a total of 8 hours.