Foam Airboat is Cheap RC Fun

Archer fans and residents of Louisiana will already be familiar with the concept of the airboat. Put a powerful engine running an aircraft prop on a flat-bottomed hull, and you’ve got an excellent way to traverse the marshes of the American South. While a fully-fledged airboat might run you the best part of $100,000, this no-frills radio-controlled version is great fun at a much lower price.

The hull is built on a sheet of foam, which is cheap, readily available, and suitably buoyant for the task. It’s then kitted out with a brushless motor to run the prop and a servo to control the rudder. Lace it up with a radio receiver and speed controller and you’re good to go.

The build could readily be completed in well under a couple of hours, and is a great one to tackle with kids due to its mechanical simplicity. There’s room for extra creativity too – you can always substitute a watermelon if you’re feeling peckish. Video after the break.

7 thoughts on “Foam Airboat is Cheap RC Fun

  1. Awesome project! Is there any concern with the LiPo packs getting wet/submerged? If the craft flips over in deep enough water, would there be a chance of the packs shorting out and potentially blowing up? I’m asking because I’m curious – not implying anything should be different – I would have put them on the same way. Just curious as Ive never done a project involving lithium batteries and the chance of submersion, so Ive never really thought about it.

    Very cool airboat you made and the spot you ran it in the video was perfect for showing off its shallow draft.

    Also Lewin, thank you for the Archer reference. After watching that episode I can never look at an airboat and not have that scene come to mind.

    1. Cutting a concave cavity into the top of the boat, the batteries could be positioned such that if the boat flipped over, they’d still be above the water line. The craft is fabricated from styrofoam, so it’s positively buoyant in all scenarios.

    2. Contrary to popular media, water isn’t all that conductive unless the boat in acid lake. Water doesn’t have a lot of ions for conduction. Even then it will be tiny fraction of the current rating of battery – remembers that it can drive lots of amps to run a boat.

      The only thing you have to worry about is corrosion.

  2. That looks like so much fun, and a really excellent location.

    Don’t forget, air boats also run quite well on damp or wet grass, so the yard, a field, or even a golf course can be excellent places to test and play.

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