RC Thrust Vectoring Hovercraft (used in Jet Fighters)




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This is unique- I use thrust vectoring (used in fighter jets), that I haven't seen in other hovercraft, I also use an air diffuser to help get the hovercraft level, and stable.

This hovercraft works on water, land, and snow. It works best on snow, and land. It works decently on water. The surface (snow or land) should be smooth,for optimal performance. Grass, very rocky areas, and mud is not recommended for flying it.

This instructable is to teach you how to make your own thrust vectoring hovercraft like mine. this can be made in a week, or a weekend if you are a fast builder.

How a hover craft works (opens in new page)

We will start building in the next step.

Step 1: Materials, and Plans

Materials needed-

  1. Foam. I used dollar tree foam board.
  2. 2 motors. I used brush less motors.
  3. 2 Electronic speed controller for brushless motor, or esc
  4. Suitable batteries, I used 2 lipos, one for each motor.
  5. Servos, I used a cheap 9 gram servo
  6. A radio tx, and rx.
  7. Material for the skirt, I used sturdy cloth, plastic Bags can be used too.
  8. propellers for your motor, a data sheet for your motor usually recommends an appropriate prop.
  9. wood or carbonfiber for re-enforcements.

most of the materials can be found on hobbyking.com

Total cost is less than 100 US$


cutting knife, hot glue gun, soldering iron

Step 2: Building the Hover Craft Body

depending on the thickness of your foam, cut many identical pieces, then glue them together to make a thicker body, the thickness of my hover craft body is 2 cm, without the diffuser (next step).

To achieve the curve of the main motor bay, I cut thin slits on the foam, making sure not to cut all the way through. since i used dollar tree foam, I had a thin layer of paper on both sides, so if I did not cut the second layer of paper, i could curve the foam. Look at the pictures.

I attached magnets to the electronics bay hatch to make a flip hatch, the hinge can be made through tape.

the thrust vectoring unit was made by attaching 3 hinges to a doubled piece of wood (the base), and then attached more wood to the other side of the hinge. The base was attached to the hovercraft via hot glue, and I attached a piece of foam to the swilling side to give a base for the motor, look at the pictures. I attached 90 degree supports to keep the base perpendicular. I also mounted. a servo horn which connected the servo inside via music wire. Finally I glued the motor on.

I made the skirt 8 cm bigger than the hovercraft dimensions. I used cloth but you could use garbage bags, or polythene shopping bags. It is harder to cut but not by much. You might expect it to leak air, but I cant find any leakage which is good.

Advantages of cloth-

  1. much more durable than polythene or garbage bag ( my garbage bag skirt tore in its maiden flight)
  2. It might get wet but it will not scoop water like other hovercraft, as the water just drains out the back ( for water usage)
  3. Easy to find/cheap.

  4. If the cloth is very thin, or has few weaves, the it will leak air evenly, leading to a more level hovercraft( rather than the air coming through a large hole.)

For balance one battery sits in the front, and one in the electronics bay, they are held by velcro

Step 3: Air Diffuser

I saw this video that does the same thing as me, and I used it, but this is not stealing, as I give the video credits for this part, just the air diffuser. Watch from 3:05 to 6:30 for a the original. I did not cut a opening that big on the bottom of the skirt.

The point of this mod is to spread out the air more evenly, and to protect the propeller from debris, and sand/stones thrown up by the air cushion.

Step 4: Tuning, and Final Checks.

Depending on your motor orientation, and the direction of the motor, you need to change the direction of your propeller.

The servo will have to be centred, and trimmed out. the thrust vectoring is very poverfull, and if you have a computerised radio like this one, then dial in dual rates to make it less sensitive. those who dont have computerised radios, should be gentle with the thrust vectoring or it might not give a smooth ride, I have a video on the first step on how the hover craft drives.

The back motor does not have to be too powerfull, and I ran it at 25-50% speed.

That's it, please rate me if this was useful, as it takes time to write, and make a project for you guys. also vote for me on makerlympics, and super sized. Please look at my other projects, like opening a door with a motor, touch sensor, and arduino.

Happy building, I will respond to your questions when I get time.

Check out my new Tech & Robotics website Tinkerspark.org: A Hub of Robotics, Engineering,Technology content & meticulously crafted online courses taught by industry professionals



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    17 Discussions

    British Badger

    4 years ago

    hi I'm starting a hovercraft group to share experience and designs to make the best hovercraft s possible I was wondering if you were interested

    2 replies

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I noticed that your hovercraft noses down whenever you turn on the propeller. This is because the force that the propellor makes does not act through the center of mass of your craft. If you aim the propeller so that it points through the center of mass (roughly the center of he platform) it will stop nosing down, which will probably reduce drag and give a better ride overall.

    However, if you do this then the craft will "pull up" when you make a turn (the opposite of the nosing down that it currently exhibits). This is because the force will now be acting behind the center of mass. It might actually be beneficial for helping your craft make a turn without the nose sticking and slowing it down.

    1 reply
    Saral Tayaliamtojo

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, you have a very good point. Actually my lighter battery was charging at the time I filmed this, so I had to put a heavier battery. The lighter battery helps the nose going down. I want to improve the thrust vectors soon, so I will take your suggestion into consideration, Thanks


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I like the videos but noticed the same similar problem I encountered with skirting. It causes drag. The simple one I made has no flexible skirting and seems to give a bit more stability. I used two thrust motors to steer the unit. But... mine is hard to steer because there's no drag from the skirt. However, it allows me to hover over water without flotation devices.

    5 replies

    I don't understand how the skirt creates drag, The point of a skirt on a hovercraft is to hold a cushion of air, which removes drag, right?? If you are talking about my first video then see carefully , that the hover motor is off, and I am only using the thrust vectors to show that this is actually thrust vectoring. I like your hovercraft, and the fact that it can go over water, smoothly. The dual propellers is also an easy, and efficient way to steer, and move. If you make a 2nd version, I think it could be more durable and the aesthetics could be nicer, but as a toy, building experience and a proof of concept, it is great as it is.


    What I meant by drag is that the skirt drags the terrain because of the flexibility of the fabric. By not having a skirt, I found the cushion of air to be evenly displaced. Also having the weight of the other components centered really helped. Good luck. I do like your project.


    Oh I see what you mean, and thank you. One advantage of your design, as you mentioned is smoothness on a level surface, no skirt drag. On a level surface like water, tiles, smooth cement it is better not to have skirt. One advantage of a skirt is it can handle cracks in the ground, or small bumps, like on a road, etc. Depending on your needs, you can put, or exclude a skirt, like your design, Thanks for sharing your design.


    I will son upload a video with the thrust vectors, but unlike other rc hovercrafts, this one has no rudders, and the thrust motor moves instead to turn the hovercraft. You can see the thrust motor attached, on a pivot. Instead of redirecting the thrust (air), I redirect the motor creating the thrust, making it more efficient.


    I have the videos uploaded, The first video clearly shows that I have no rudders, and I am redirecting thrust via turning the motor, I hope it solves your query.