How to Make a RC Air Boat for Videoing and Fun




About: Jungles my home _ College now my life _ Mechanical Engineer to be _ An adventurer at heart

When I don't have much going on and I have a little time to spend, I like coming up with something fun. Thus the JUNGLE AIR BOAT!

This was my first try with a remote control air boat. I wanted something simple to make, something that wouldn't cost me anything, and something that was stable and safe for a camera mount. And, O, I wanted it to be fun...... And that is what this boat is.

I have been waiting for a while for a chance to build a boat. I considered building a fast speed boat, but small jungle creeks aren't the place for outrageously fast speed boats! Thus I decided on a little air boat to cruise the creek.

I hope this instructable will help you out in your personal quest for, perhaps, an air boat, :) but if you don't have your heart set on a air boat, I hope you gain a little inspiration from this. :) Enjoy....

* I added my first video to instructables. I hope you enjoy it! *

I would LOVE to win a Go Pro camera. It would be perfect for this boat and perfect for the jungle. Please vote for me if you like this!

Step 1: A Few Parts...

There is a Haitian phrase that my parents say that means "little by little a bird builds it's nest". That is what this is. Bits and pieces from a bunch of stuff. You may not have exactly what I had on hand, but this will give you an idea what I used. I didn't have to buy anything for this project, but if you would want to buy everything I had it would cost around $60.

For the body of the boat, I used.
* A piece of styrofoam : I used an old piece which wasn't ideal - more on that later.
* Cardboard - all great creations contain it.
* Duck tape

What makes this piece of Styrofoam go and the cost break down is -

* 2.4 Ghz. Tx and Rx - $16 at Hobby King - cheap yet works great

* Brushed ESC - $10 on Ebay - strait from China but works well with smaller motors

* 7.2v Turnigy 3 amp battery pack - $25 at Frys with charger

* Small servo - $6 at Hobby King - just about any could work

* Brushed motor - salvaged from a thrift store toy - $1.50 or so

* Propeller - taken from a rubber band powered plane - next to nothing, money wise

Additional supplies were.
* Small sized wire mesh - don't know what to call that stuff.
* Shish kabobs sticks
* Two small pieces of wood
* An additional small piece for wood for a cross piece - I used bamboo.
* Small wire
* A piece of sheet metal - optional
* Styrofoam plates - optional
* Black spray paint - optional

Tools -
* Hot glue! - great stuff!
* Drill
* Wire snips
* And little miscellaneous things that most everyone should have stuck away somewhere.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I will make it up. :)

So, you got that?

Step 2: Styrofoam Time!

I didn't have an ideal piece of Styrofoam laying around. What I wanted was a solid piece to shape a boat hull out of. What I ended up with was a piece of Styrofoam that needed some serious work.

I hack sawed, cut, and pulled everything out of the Styrofoam that didn't look like a boat's body. I had to glue a piece of Styrofoam to the front to give it a little slope in the front.

The pictures show what I did and hopefully will give you an idea of what you want to do.

Basically, take a piece of Styrofoam and transform it into a air boat body. :)

Step 3: The Motor Mount

So, we have a piece of Styrofoam now we need to add a motor to it.

I had problems with my initial motor mount so I changed it into something even more simple.

Basically, two pieces of wood somewhere close to eight inches, were glued into the boat at a angle that held the motor at the right height. I added a cross piece to hold it together. Two nails were glued into holes to provide two points to clamp the motor to with a hose clamp. I added the hose clamp to allow for an easier removal and insert of the motor and prop.

Everything was spray painted black.

Step 4: Add the Card Board Deck and Steering Servo....

Card board isn't the best thing to use in boats that touch the water, but it is a light and readily available thing. I hot glued pieces to the back as shown in the pictures and added a piece to the front.

Before I glued the card board down on the back of the boat, I glued my steering servo to it. I somewhat waterproofed it by wrapping it with plumbers tape. It must have worked because the boat did turn over once, but didn't hurt the servo or anything else. I also added a piece of bamboo under it to give the card board extra support.

Once again the pictures tell it all......

Step 5: Making the Prop Cage and Flap Mounts...

I wanted a cage around the propeller (as most air boats have) to protect my fingers and to protect it from hitting weeds and sticks in the water.

I cut a piece of wire mesh and bent it around a large coffee can that was just about the right size. It is easiest to bend it around something. I used wire to hold it together at the bottom. I then painted it.

To attach it to the boat, I glued and wired it to the motor mount and boat body as shown.

To make the flap mounts, I split a shish kabob stick down the center (they split quite well). I then secured them to the wire mesh by using small pieces of wire.

Step 6: Flaps...

To make the flaps I wanted something rigid yet light. I chose Styrofoam. I cut one flap out and used it as a template to duplicate it three times. I sandwiched a piece of sheet metal to add rigidity and a small hinge between two pieces of Styrofoam and glued everything together with hot glue.

Step 7: Attaching the Flaps and Hooking Them to the Servo...

I attached the flaps by putting them between the split kabob stick and tightened the split with a little wire. I also added a little hot glue to them.

For the steering mechanism. I used another kabob stick to link the two flaps together. I drilled two small holes in the stick and put nails through them which are then glued to the bottom of the flaps.

I used a small piece of plastic tubing to link the one flap to the servo's arm. I experimented with different lengths and positions to get the best steering ability.

Step 8: Adding the Front...

My piece of Styrofoam wasn't exactly what I wanted to make my boat with. The front wasn't very streamlined and didn't look likes a front of a boat. After an initial test I decided to streamline it a bit.

I cut a piece of sheet metal which I then glued to the bottom of the boat and brought it up at an angle in the front. I once again used shish kabob sticks and hot glue to hold it in place. I then filled in the spaces with Styrofoam plates cut to the right size. I used silicon to water tight the seems.

The end result of this little front job was a lot better than the original design.

Step 9: Electronics and Wiring...

So hopefully if you have been following me you will have a boat shell with a motor and servo. Now is the time to get the rest of the radio system in there and test it out.

I used a HK GT 2.4ghz radio system which I highly recommend if you want a cheap radio system. The price can't be beaten and the range of this system is amazing (I have never taken it out of range yet).

I attached the ESC's wires and the servos wire to the receiver and put it in a plastic bag to give it water protection. - you won't want to do that if it gets very hot.

I attached the ESC's motor wires to the motor by adding a connection in the end of the wire from the motor. I kind of over did it with the wires to the motor, but the larger the wire the better the conduction.

I glued the on and off switch to the card board

I finally added the 7.2v battery to the system and I was ready to put this thing in the water.

I made sure everything worked and took it to the creek.

Sorry for all the "I"s... :)

Step 10: Costomization, Lights, and Camera Mount

I wanted my boat a little more realistic and unique so I added some things.

One of the main ideas behind this boat was to use it as a camera platform. I made a mount for one on the front. I used some wood to make a solid camera mount. I put a bolt through the middle for the camera to screw down to and glued the mount securely to the sides of the boat.

I also made two seats out of sheet metal to put on top of the camera mount to make it look a little more realistic. I added a nail here and there and also a little wire mesh.

I have always like LEDs so I decided to put some on this boat. I had a led bar out of a flash light that I added to the top of the propeller cage. I also added a single red led on to of the propeller cage. I wanted blue leds on there somewhere so I wired them to come on when the motor is spinning and glued them to the front of the boat. All the lights are turned on and off by a three point toggle switch. The lights on this thing look great on dark water at night.

Use your imagination to customize this thing.

Step 11: Finished!!!!

I finally was satisfied with my boat. I have driven it much and it never gives me trouble. Many of my projects continually need attention, but this boat just keeps going.

It is a load of fun. It is not real fast, but it is lots of fun. It is very maneuverable and yet does not tip easily. It has spent much time in the creek in our back yard cruising up and down.

The battery life is great lasting well over 30 minutes. I have taken it out at great distances and put it in streaming water. It flipped once in a flooded creek when it got stuck on a submerged vine, but it floated completely and did not do any damage at all.

It makes a great boat to add a little camera to. If I ever get a Go Pro camera I would like to redesign an air boat a little more durable and use it to get close ups videos of water life in the jungle - giant river otters and cayman to be more exact.

And that is it! I hope you enjoyed this instructables.

Until I appear again,


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    33 Discussions


    2 years ago

    make something a little less complicated please


    2 years ago

    I just finished building/testing one with a nitro gas engine (:
    Here's a link to see how I made it and how it did on the water:


    2 years ago

    Great build have already started work on my version. Broke the prop though...


    3 years ago

    so cool I made mine out of an old rc helicopter


    3 years ago

    Can I have a a air boat made with a much more easy way ???

    with decrease of steps and less instruments


    3 years ago

    dude man your a legend!!!!!!!!!! you just gave me the best idea. Thanks heaps

    2 replies
    Tan OryJDEEJAY642

    Reply 3 years ago

    dont tell me.. this dude is Will Smith?


    3 years ago

    can i see the circuits schematic diagram ?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice project. Can you show photos of how you connected the propeller to the motor and the how you connected the small plastic tube to the servo?

    Thank you

    Hey there! Thanks for checking this project out! Feel free to comment if you have any questions. I was away for a little while so I was not able to respond for a while, but I will be available now. I love to hear what you think. Also, remember to vote if you like this boat. Thanks!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice instructable: easy and funny, as it should be. I will try do do one using an old RC helicopter with dwo propellers. I think it will be even easier than this one if I place each of them in one side of the boat and use the rotation over itself with the RC control to turn the boat. And still have one free channel from the tale rotor to use in something else! Thanks for sharing your work.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hey! Love the project. I built one of these recently but it had a huge problem... Every time I turned on the motor, the nose of the boat would tilt down into the water. Is there anything on your boat that gets rid of this pendulum effect?

    1 reply

    Hey! Thanks for the comment. I agree to what to what FlameRazor said in response your question, he just beat me to it. In my boat, most of the weight is in the back, but it can be adjusted by moving the battery around. I hope you get your boat straightened out and running well. Thanks again!

    P.S. Sorry for not responding sooner. I was away.