To be clear, of course there’s a blade. They aren’t magic, obviously. The fan is just small, and hidden inside the base. Air is pulled from the sides and bottom, and into the ring mounted to the top of the unit. When the air eventually exits the thin slit in the ring, it “sticks” to the sides due to the Coandă effect and produces a low pressure zone in the center. That’s all a fancy way of saying that the air flow you get from one of these gadgets is several times greater than what the little dinky fan would be capable of under normal circumstances. That’s the theory, anyway.
We can’t promise that all the physics are working as they should in this 3D printed version, but in the video after the break it certainly appears to be moving a considerable amount of air. It’s also quite loud, but that’s to be expected given it’s using a brushless hobby motor. To get it spinning, [Elite Worm] is using a Digispark ATtiny85 connected to a standard RC electronic speed control (ESC). The MCU reads a potentiometer mounted to the side of the fan and converts that to a PWM signal required by the ESC.
Beyond the electronics, essentially every piece of this project has been printed on a standard desktop 3D printer. An impressive accomplishment, though we probably would have gone with a commercially available propeller for safety’s sake. On the other hand, the base of the fan should nicely contain the shrapnel created should it explode at several thousand RPM. Probably.
Leaving no stone unturned in his quest for alternative and improbable ways to generate lift, [Tom Stanton] has come up with some interesting aircraft over the years. But this time he isn’t exactly flying, with this unusual Coandă effect hovercraft.
If you’re not familiar with the Coandă effect, neither were we until [Tom] tried to harness it for a quadcopter. The idea is that air moving at high speed across a curved surface will tend to follow it, meaning that lift can be generated. [Tom]’s original Coandă-copter was a bit of a bust – yes, there was lift, but it wasn’t much and wasn’t easy to control. He did notice that there was a strong ground effect, though, and that led him to design the hovercraft. Traditional hovercraft use fans to pressurize a plenum under the craft, lifting it on a low-friction cushion of air. The Coandă hovercraft uses the airflow over the curved hull to generate lift, which it does surprisingly well. The hovercraft proved to be pretty peppy once [Tom] got the hang of controlling it, although it seemed prone to lifting off as it maneuvered over bumps in his backyard. We wonder if a control algorithm could be devised to reduce the throttle if an accelerometer detects lift-off; that might make keeping the craft on the ground a bit easier.
As always, we appreciate [Tom]’s builds as well as his high-quality presentation. But if oddball quadcopters or hovercraft aren’t quite your thing, you can always put the Coandă effect to use levitating screwdrivers and the like.
Hackaday Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams recorded this week’s podcast live from Chaos Communication Camp, discussing the most interesting hacks on offer over the past week. I novel locomotion news, there’s a quadcopter built around the coanda effect and an autonomous boat built into a plastic storage bin. The radiation spikes in Russia point to a nuclear-powered ramjet but the idea is far from new. Stardust (well… space rock dust) is falling from the sky and it’s surprisingly easy to collect. And 3D-printed gear boxes and hobby brushless DC motors have reached the critical threshold necessary to mangle 20/20 aluminum extrusion.
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!
The project began by firing up the 3D printer, which made experimenting with a variety of different aerodynamic forms easy. Wishing to avoid simply putting a large obstruction in the way of an otherwise efficient propeller, the experiment first used impellers to direct flow sideways, over the edge of the Coanda domes. The impellers, combined with the Coanda domes, were a factor of 5 less efficient at generating thrust compared to a standard prop setup, but [Tom] persevered.
In testing, the drone was unable to fly outside of ground effect, with its weight exceeding its maximum thrust. However, [Tom] noted that the Coanda domes helped create a cushion of air when flying in this ground effect region that was far more than experienced with a typical prop drone.
Wanting some further success, [Tom] then replaced the impellers with standard drone props. This greatly improved performance, with the drone now able to fly out of ground effect and use far less power. However, its performance was still worse than a standard drone without Coanda domes fitted. [Tom] suspects that this is due to the weight penalty most of all.
What do you want to levitate today? [Latheman666] uses his air compressor to make all kinds of stuff float in mid air. Light bulb, key chain, test tube, ball bearing, tomato… pretty neat trick to try in your shop.
It is interesting to see what physics explain this behavior. The objects do not float just because they are pushed upwards by the airflow, that would be an unstable equilibrium situation. Instead, they obtain lift in a very similar way as the wings of an airplane. Not all objects will levitate using this trick: the object has to be semi-spherical at the top.
[Applied Science] nicely shows this behavior by levitating a screwdriver first, then an identical object but with a flat top. The flat top screwdriver fails to levitate. The curvature provides the path for a smooth airflow, because of the Coanda effect, creating a zone of low pressure at the top, making the situation analogous to that of an airplane wing. Therefore, for this to work, you need an object with some kind of airfoil shaped surface. Another great demonstration is that of [NightHawkInLight], using a high speed camera.
A very impressive experiment that needs nothing more than an air compressor!, we are sure you will try it next time you work with one. For more on this topic of levitation with air streams, check the ping pong ball levitation machine.