Air boats are great because they are really fun to ride and also work on several kind of surfaces, like water, snow, ice, asphalt or just whatever, if the motor is powerful enough.
The project is not very complex, and if you already have the electronics, then you can do it in one weekend. Printing the parts takes some time, but it mostly depends on the kind of printer you have. Besides that, putting it together is really super easy and if you are slow it takes you 45 minutes. Seriously.
That's why I decided to build one myself. In the next videos you can check how to build one and look up for reference if you have any doubts.
Let's dig in!
Step 1: BOM
The links in the list point to the components that I used or equivalent ones.
You are gonna need:
- 3D PRINTED PARTS:
- Motor support
- Duct with grid
- Electronics cover
- Flaps (or whatever they are called)
- Flaps arm
- Some screws
Step 2: Time to Print!
You need to print:
- Motor holder
- Fan duct
- Right ail
- Left ail
- Electronics case
The two ails are not identical! One has a slot for the lever!
I printed everything out of PLA with 30% infill and worked perfectly. If you want, you can print the ails empty, they work as well.
Also, you may be happy to know that everything prints without support material! You can just put a couple of raft layers under the ails so that they don't detach during printing.
Step 3: You'll Probably Need a Boat
I made my boat out of dense styrofoam, which is much more resistant and easier to work with than standard styrofoam. But that should work as well. Also, I carved mine with a CNC, but that's totally an overkill and not necessary at all, make one by hand and you'll be fine. Just make sure that the electronics pocket dimensions match, or you won't be able to use the cover that I designed!
Just for reference, you can find up here an image with the dimensions that I used for my boat.
Down here, a quick video of my CNC carving the boat, if you are into that.
Step 4: From Now On, It's Just Making Things Work
Ok, now that you have everything you need, you can start putting it together! This is pretty straightforward, so I'm gonna just make a checklist of what you need to do (in the correct order):
- Mount the propeller on the motor
- Mount the motor on the motor holder, inserting the cables in the hole behind the holder
- Mount the ails on the fan duct (see note below)
- Attach a metal wire between the two ail, by using 2 of the spare screws that come with the motor (see pictures). Make sure that the ails are parallel!
- Put together (with two screws) the fan duct and the motor holder
- Position the servo in his hole, checking that all the wires are correctly positioned
- Position the motor holder on the boat and fix it with 4 drywall screws. Don't tighten them too much!
- Attach another metal wire that connects the lever of the servo to the lever on the ails. Make sure that the ails are straight when the servo is in its idle position
- Wire everything up and check if the motor spins in the correct direction. Otherwise, invert two of the three cables
- Throw all the electronics in the box, close it and you are ready to go!
How to mount the ails on the fan duct: first of all, I hope you figured that they are different, and you didn't print two of the same! Also, gluing the lever to the left ail should be pretty straight forward. Then you need to put, both on top and on the bottom, a little piece of plastic filament, the one you used to print the parts. You just need four 5mm long pieces of 1.75mm filament. Then you can stretch a bit the duct by pushing on the sides and insert the ails in the frame. They do not make a tight fit, so it should be pretty easy.
In case you have any doubts, just check the video below!
Step 5: Attention! Fun Ahead!
This was a really cool and fun project to make, and the result even more. The boat works like a charm, and it's easy to mount the motor and electronics on something else, like an ice sled, on something with wheel, and increment the fun exponentially.
With the action cam mounted on it, you can go around and make explorations, record your other boats, make it follow you on your boat trip, or just chase the ducks around (always wanted to do it, but I couldn't find any ducks!).
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Just a note: my motor on full throttle consumes 5+A, which is quite a bit of current. You need to make sure that both your battery and ESC can handle that kind of current, otherwise you'll just burn everything.