A Garbage Bag Skirt Is Fit For A Hovercraft

The hovercraft is an entertaining but much maligned form of transport. While they have military applications and at times have even run as ferries across the English Channel, fundamental issues with steering and braking have prevented us all driving them to work on a regular basis. They do make great toys however, and [HowToMechatronics] has built an excellent example.

The build is primarily a 3D printed affair, with the hull, ducting, and even the propellers being made in this way. The craft is sized to be readily printable on a 30cm square build platform, making it accessible to most printer owners. Drive is via brushless motors, and control is achieved using their previously-featured self-built NRF24L01 radio control transmitter.

What stands out among most other hovercraft builds we see here is the functioning skirt. It’s constructed from a garbage bag, and held on to the hull with a 3D printed clamping ring. Most quick builds omit a skirt and make up for it with light weight and high power, so its nice to see one implemented here. We’d love to see how well the craft works on the water, though it holds up well on the concrete.

Finished in a camouflage paint scheme, the craft looks the part, and handles well too. We’d consider a small correction to the center of gravity, but it’s nothing a little ballast wouldn’t fix. Video after the break.



12 thoughts on “A Garbage Bag Skirt Is Fit For A Hovercraft

  1. “The hovercraft is an entertaining but much maligned form of transport. ”

    Lots of the right kind of land (and hovercrafts are very forgiving) and one can have loads of fun.

  2. I might just be lazy, but you can get some insanely powerful “computer fan form factor” 12v fans that support PWM controlling.
    Only downside is they only blow one direction.
    Would be easier to cannibalize one of those for thrust and another for lift, and fitting the thrust fan with air rudders manipulated with a servo.

    1. Yeah, for example Nidec fans of server variety, like 92mm ones running 2,6A@12V are able to lift themselves without help of the skirt. With added area it’s only going to be better. I made a simple PoC from such a fan, a food tray and a plastic bag and it hovered really easily, I could even turn its RPMs down a half and it still hovered with 11.1V 2.5Ah Li-Po battery and some electronics on top. The only downside for this fan is that it reacts slowly on changing PWM control signal. So it’s fine for lift (given its efficiency) but not for thrust. Unless you control the power externally of course. But I’ve also seen some NMB-MAT blower fans which were PWM-capable, but they stabilized RPMs in closed loop. Decreasing voltage to them made them soak up more current to keep RPMs up.

      1. What would be the theoretical limit of how much weight a server fan powered hovercraft can lift? Lifting a person with a single server fan would be worthy of a headline… (Even if that person must be of much lower than average weight like Naomi Wu.)

  3. This brings back memories my father designed& sold the blueprints and construction instructions for a one-man hovercraft which he sold in the back of Popular Mechanics as well as Popular Science for more than 40 years. These sold to high schools and institutions as well as individuals , all over the world… We used to get pictures back from schools showing the completed vehicle. This was (mostly)all pre- home computer. He died about 10 years back.

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