What could be more fun than riding across the ground on a great, mighty hovercraft? This tutorial will teach you how to build a hovercraft for your own personal use.
Step 1: Materials
How to Create a Hovercraft
" 4ft x 4ft piece of plywood
" Tarp or plastic shower curtain
" Leaf blower
" Duct tape
" Staples/staple gun
" Plastic coffee can lid
" Drill/ screws
" Measuring tape
" Sandpaper (optional)
Step 2: Directions
1. Take the 4x4 piece of plywood and find the center using measuring tape.
2. Take a piece of string and attach one end to a pencil and place the other in the center. Use this method to draw a circle on the plywood that has a diameter of 4ft.
3. Then on the inside of the circle measure the nozzle of the leaf blower and trace that also.
4. Use the jigsaw to cut out the circle and the hole for the leaf blower using the pencil lines as a guide. Dont forget to wear safety goggles.
5. Once you cut out the circles you might want to take the time to sand the plywood with sandpaper. This will decrease the roughness of the wood and you will be less susceptible to getting splinters.
6. After completing the previous step you are going to place the tarp or the plastic shower curtain (smoother side down) underneath the circle (platform) that you created. Make sure that the tarp or curtain can completely cover the underside of the platform with about 8 inches of excess or so in order to attach it to the platform. Trim any excess that is not needed.
7. With the 8 inches of excess you are going to use the staple gun and staple the tarp or curtain to the platform. Dont make the tarp tight around the circle. You want it to be loose that way when the air blows into the tarp it will be able to puff outward. Be sure not to cover the top of the hole meant for the leaf blower.
8. Once you have stapled the tarp or curtain all the way around the platform use duct tape and go over the edges of the tarp, where the staples are. This will help prevent the air from leaking out.
9. Flip the platform over so that way you are viewing the underside, the side where the tarp is covering the board entirely. Once again you are going to use the measuring tape and find the center of the platform and mark it.
10. Take the plastic, circular lid and place it directly in the center. You are then going to drill a hole in the center of both the lid and the platform. Secure the two together by screwing in a screw in the hole you just created. Screw in a total of five screws. It is ideal if the screws dont stick up through the top side.
11. Once the lid is secure to the platform with the tarp in between you are going to create a total of six holes in the tarp on the underside (side you are currently looking at). The holes should be 5 inches from the outer edge of the lid and should be evenly spaced among each other. The holes should have a diameter of 2? inches or so.
12. If you decided to use a plastic shower curtain you might want to secure the holes so that way they wont rip even further. You can do this by securing them with duct tape by placing it around all the holes on the underside of the plastic curtain.
13. After finishing the previous step you can flip it over, place the leaf blowers nozzle in the hole designated for it, turn the leaf blower on, and ride. Have fun!
Step 3: What Worked Well and What Did Not
Fortunately, we did not face any real difficulties or problems during our process. The only slight mishap that occured was that the shower curtain we used continously had new rips and tears in it, but other than that we experienced no problems. Our hovercraft held us up very well and was well constructed. The position and the size of our holes worked perfectly. We found that using a circular base tends to be better.
Step 4: The Physics Behind It
There are a few physics concepts that apply to this project.
First there is the concept of pressure, air pressure to be more exact. Air pressure played a huge role, along with the skirt. As the leaf blower continued to blow, air pressure inside the skirt would build up and when under pressure, the molecules would try to spread out. However, the skirt prevents that from happening so the end result is the air bursting out of the holes made at the bottom side of the skirt. If the air pressure inside the skirt rises to the point where the air molecules exert more force than gravity would on the hovercraft and for whoever is riding it, the hovercraft is lifted.
Second there is the concept of friction. Friction is the resistance to sliding motion between two surfaces that come into contact with each other. In our case with the hovercraft, there needs to be as little friction as possible between the skirt and the ground to avoid potential damage and to allow the rider to glide faster.
Another physics concept would include torque. Torque is the amount of force acting on an object that causes the object to rotate. The object then rotates about its axis. So in our case if the rider places more force on one side of the object after being pushed or while being pulled on the hovercraft the hovercraft will then spin.