Retrotechtacular: Fantastic Backyard Inventions of Yore

News corporation [British Pathé] created many newsreels and documentaries throughout their 60-year history. Recently, the company released scores of films from their archives and put them on the internet. Here is a delightful collection of short films they created that highlight strange and wonderful inventions in various fields, including transportation and communication.

One of the standout inventions is the Dynasphere, a mono-wheeled vehicle that probably deserves its own week in the Retrotechtacular spotlight. There are a couple of pedal-powered planes that may have inspired the Gossamer Condor, and a hover scooter that resembles an air hockey striker and doubles as a leaf blower. In another film, a man drives a Vespa to the banks of the Thames and parks it. He pulls a fin down from each side of the scooter, turning it into a seafaring craft. When he snaps his fingers, a cute girl appears from somewhere just outside the frame. She climbs on the back, and they take off across the water.

The average running time of these films is about two minutes. Some of them are much shorter, prompting many questions. Fortunately, most of the video descriptions have links with more information about these marvelous inventions. Almost all of the inventors in these films show a complete disregard for safety, but nearly everyone involved seems to be having the time of their lives.

Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Fantastic Backyard Inventions of Yore”

DIY RC Hovercraft Makes Batman Action Figure Envious

[Bauwser] had some spare RC Helicopter parts laying around and cobbled together an RC Hovercraft. It worked but not to his liking. That’s okay though, he know it was just a prototype for what was to come; a fully scratch built hovercraft with parts spec’ed out specifically to make it handle the way [Bauwser] wanted.

He started out by sketching out some cool faceted shapes that would both look good and be easy to construct. Sheets of a light but rigid foam were then cut into the appropriate shapes and glued together to create a three-dimensional body. The foam was then covered with a layer of fiberglass and resin to add some strength. A hole was cut in the body to mount a 55mm ducted fan which provides the required air to fill the skirt and lift the vehicle. Another ducted fan is mounted at the back of the craft and points rearward. This ducted fan provides the forward thrust and a servo vectors this fan in order to make turns.

[Bauwser] sewed the skirt himself. It is made out of an old beach tent. The fabric is extremly light and flexible, perfect for a hovercraft. During the test runs, dirt and debris was getting trapped in the skirt tube. A quick trip back to the sewing machine to add some gauze netting fixed that problem and keeps debris collection to a minimum. In the end, [Bauwser] shows what a great DIY RC build can look like with a little planning and experimentation.

Need more DIY RC hovercrafts? Check this out

Video after the break…

Continue reading “DIY RC Hovercraft Makes Batman Action Figure Envious”

A Simple Hoverboard Everyone Can Understand

To be honest, we were wondering when we would see someone try this…

[Ryan Craven] has successfully built a working hovercraft that looks like a skateboard. It floats on two pockets of air generated by four Black and Decker leaf blowers — and by golly, it certainly looks like it works!

Ever since the HUVr hoax earlier this year, [Ryan] has had the goal to make a real, working hoverboard. Hendo may have beaten him to the punch with their $10,000 eddy current inducing halbach array board, but alas, it only works on copper or aluminum floors. [Ryan’s] can be used anywhere a normal skateboard can be. It’s far from sleek, but it’s only just the prototype — though we’re curious to see how far this could actually go.

Which is precisely why he’s shared it over on and is hoping to draw some support and ideas from our wonderful community here.

What do you guys think? Is it worth continuing the pursuit of a hovercraft style hoverboard? Can we shrink the technology enough to make it feasible? It’s come a long way from the classic hover craft using a giant shop vac…

Continue reading “A Simple Hoverboard Everyone Can Understand”

Thrust-Vectoring Hovercraft On a Budget


Looking for a fun little experiment in thrust vectoring? [Saral Tayal] has come up with what he thinks is the first style of thrust vectoring hovercraft.

A typical hovercraft uses one or two drives, one to hover, one to direct movement — or one for both, diverted to the two outputs. [Saral’s] toy hovercraft uses two, but unlike traditional designs, instead of having a rudder on the back to direct the airflow for steering, he steers the entire fan assembly. On a full size hovercraft, this could be a lot of fun.

It’s a pretty simple project that you could quite easily build on a weekend — if you’ve got RC parts kicking around, even easier! He’s using two brushless motors with ESCs, a 9g servo, and a small RC transmitter/receiver. The props come from a regular RC plane — just pick one suitable for the motor being used. Depending on what you have on hand, this project will be under $100 to build. The rest is mostly foam-board, balsa wood, and glue.

Check out the following video to see how it hovers!

Continue reading “Thrust-Vectoring Hovercraft On a Budget”

Hovercraft Plane?

[Rudy Heeman] has been working in his garage on what we may consider a new class of vehicle. It’s a hovercraft —  but it also has wings.

That’s right, you drive it on ground, water, and you can even take flight with it! However, it’s far from a new idea. After doing some digging it appears the first type of this vehicle was actually tested back in 1996 by Universal Hovercraft — a quick peruse of their site reveals you can even buy your own kits to make one! Regardless of where it came from, or who made one first, it’s a brilliantly fun concept, and would be a blast to fly. Oh and you don’t even need a pilot’s license, it’s considered a boat and follows the same rules and regulations for boating.

Stick around after the break to see one in action! Now all we need to do is figure out how to combine one of these with a Delorean Hovercraft!

Continue reading “Hovercraft Plane?”

Screaming fast RC Hovercraft

Of all the homemade RC Hovercraft floating around out there, this build is not only one of the better looking: it’s also unexpectedly quick. [ScratchBuiltAircraft] sourced foam board from the local dollar store to construct the hovercraft’s body and a heavy-duty garbage bag with a hole cut in the center for the skirt. Air reaches the skirt area from the hovercraft’s EDF (Electric Duct Fan — the big one on the back) which pumps the air through a rectangular hole in the base.

A servo mounted behind the fan controls the rudders, while the rest of the electronics and the battery are cleanly tucked away beneath foam body pieces. We’re not sure what kind of top speed the Turnigy motor provides, but it’s probably impressive assuming it can keep from flipping over. Watch it blast off with a bit too much lift in the video below.

For something a bit slower, there’s always the solar powered hovercraft from earlier this summer.

Continue reading “Screaming fast RC Hovercraft”

DeLorean hovercraft

[Matthew Riese] got frustrated waiting for the future to arrive so he could have his flying car. He decided to take things into his own hands and construct the closest thing he could. This turned out to be a hovercraft. Not only that, but he thought that the most fitting shape for this thing would be a DeLorean.  We can’t say that we disagree with him. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of information on his build. There is this cool video on his kickstarter page (don’t worry, he got funded back in 2010). To make up for the fact that the build information is sparse, we’ve found you some plans to make your own hovercraft. Just add whatever shape body you want, though we have some suggestions.

[via Makezine]