A Big, Mean, Inflated Machine

A Jeep is fun offroad, a motorcycle perhaps even more so. Diehard renegades go even further and get about in Unimogs and on snowmobiles. [amazingdiyprojects] might just have topped them all however, with his latest project – the astonishing Inflatable Car.

Despite the name, it’s a vehicle that defies clear definition. Consisting of a lightweight aluminium frame and exposed seat, the construction is almost 100% hacked. PVC fabric is used with advanced adhesive tapes to create inflatable wheels that are 2 meters in diameter. Vacuum cleaners are used to inflate the massive tyres, with custom 3D printed valves to ensure even inflation. Drive is courtesy of four handheld concrete mixers, repurposed for their torquey motors and robust geartrains. Even the user interface is a triumph of found parts – consisting of former cordless drills, used for their PWM hardware and covered in extra switches.

Looking like a moon lander from a strange 1950s version of the future, the machine is impressively nimble for its size. Episode 1 starts with a single wheel hooked up to the inflation gear and a single drive motor. Just a few short months later, episode 7 has the prototype machine crawling out from the confines of the back garden and out into the street. The machine is already impressively fast and capable, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

It’s a build that is truly impressive in its scale, though we’ve come to expect no less from [amazingdiyprojects]. Video after the break.





21 thoughts on “A Big, Mean, Inflated Machine

    1. Drive? I suspect float is more likely. The driver probably weighs as much as the frame. You’d be at the whim of the wind without some crude treads to provide some better drag through the water.

    1. The project is impressive in scope, it’s an awesome vehicle, and cool that he managed to get it all to work, but bluntly butchering impractical things together and seeing if it works isn’t engineering. Much of what he’s using is new stuff he’s buying, so there isn’t much excuse for not buying more suitable things (for example, DC blowers for inflating the wheels), calculating proper tire pressure so he doesn’t keep destroying the tires, and so on.

      1. I think he’s making it look more hacky and improvised than it really is. There’s probably good reasons he chose the vacuum cleaners over the leaf blowers, maybe it’s the pressure differential or something else.
        I’m saying this because for some of his projects he shows the maths and what goes into the tuning and his success rates are infinitely higher than some of the other hackers. He’s quite safety minded too, in fact enough to put himself on the self built aircraft. His jet engine has started sustaining RPMs on one of the first attempts. You’re free to search youtube for the number of amateur jet engine projects made with even more conventional and proven techniques and which never achieved sustaining RPMs — a lot of them part of a masters or PhD theses.

  1. I would think the best use of this would be driving it on the water – I imagine the tires would develop leaks fairly quickly on land. This is really tempting over, you know, buying a boat :-)

    Also, maximum hacker points for the re-use of power tool parts.

  2. This is one of the most awesome Hackaday hacks ever. It would be a perfect vehicle for exploring the swamps of southern Louisiana, where land and water mix so that few vehicles can navigate (and those that can tend to damage the environment).

  3. Well, I was going to leave a comment about how awesome this hack is, but I have tried twice and it doesn’t appear, without explanation. I’ve posted here many times so I have no idea why, and I’m hoping that if this goes into the same black hole it will at least get to the eye of a HAD person who will recognize that I am a regular here, if infrequently, and it is puzzling that my contribution simply fails to apear without even a “we are evaluating this” squib.

    This is, as I tried to say, the most awesome hack HaD has ever posted. I even put in all caps — maybe that was the problem — that I want one.

  4. Holy Crap! That is AMAZING! He has to drive it on water for his next test. Also, if he wants to make some money he should offer a version to the Military, it is air dropable, can go over all sorts or terrain, land and water, and I’ed bet that this thing has such low ground pressure it could drive over a mine field without even a grumble. Needs Kevlar wheels and a gas engine for the Military though.

  5. I’m interested to see what he might do for the wheel tearing issues, but with the air pumps onboard, he might be able to handle small holes if he can keep the flow rate in higher than the flow rate out.

    The frame flex is concerning, and maybe some additional safety gear might be nice to have.

    I wonder how much of the steering issues are the flexing of the tires and the frame taking things out of alignment and resulting in the vehicle not rolling strait.

  6. Americans don’t generally know what a Unimog is. For some reason they are not sold here* and only come in as personal imports or from Canada. Easy to fins images and they are cool. I like that passenger side roof hatch for whoever is riding shotgun.

    * There are a number of very desirable vehicles we can’t get easily – mostly smaller diesels. For example the outstanding Toyota Hilux which I’m sure is all over England. The Samurai/Tracker is still made in India and indestructible old-school rovers are still made in New Zealand.

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