Compact 3D Printed Hovercraft Is Loungeroom Floor Fun

Hovercraft come in all shapes and sizes. and while they’ve largely disappeared as a major commercial transit option, they remain popular in the hearts and minds of makers everywhere. [RCLifeOn’s] latest project concerns a compact, indoor-sized hovercraft piloted via FPV, and it looks to be brilliant fun.

The build consists of a 3D printed chassis, with a skirt cut out of a garbage bag and held on with press-fit clamps. Twin ducted fans are employed, one for propulsion, the other for levitation. A 5GHz FPV camera is nestled on top of the rear fan housing to provide a video feed for the pilot.

The craft was somewhat uncontrollable in initial testing. Tweaks to the weight distribution and the addition of a bigger rudder helped tame the rig. [RCLifeOn] also demonstrates a unique way of balancing damaged fan assemblies in the field; it’s a technique we’ll keep in the back of our mind for future use.

The trick to a good hovercraft build is light weight, big control surfaces, and a good skirt. You can even go off-book and use the Coanda effect, if you’re so inclined. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Compact 3D Printed Hovercraft Is Loungeroom Floor Fun”

Race RC Cars From Anywhere On Earth

Racing games have come a long way over the years. From basic 2D sprite-based titles, they’ve evolved to incorporate advanced engines with highly realistic simulated physics that can even be used to help develop real-world automobiles. For [Surrogate.tv], that still wasn’t quite good enough, so they decided to create something more rooted in reality.

The game is played in a web browser. Players are assigned a car and view the action from a top-down camera.

Their project resulted in a racing game based on controlling real RC cars over the internet, in live races against other human opponents. Starting with a series of Siku 1:43 scale RC cars, the team had to overcome a series of engineering challenges to make this a reality. For one, the original electronics had to be gutted as the team had issues when running many cars at the same time.

Instead, the cars were fitted with ESP8266s running custom firmware. An overhead GoPro is used with special low-latency streaming software to allow players to guide their car to victory. A computer vision system is used for lap timing, and there’s even automatic charging stations to help keep the cars juiced up for hours of play.

The game is free to play online, with the races currently operating on a regular schedule. We look forward to trying our hand at a race or three, and will be interested to see how the latency holds up from various parts of the world.

We’ve seen other remote RC builds before; usually featuring the power of the Raspberry Pi. We’ve also covered useful techniques for low latency video for real-time applications. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Race RC Cars From Anywhere On Earth”

Lego Goes Underwater, With Model Submarines And Missiles

It is fun to make a toy vehicle with Lego, but it is even more fun to make one that actually works. [PeterSripol] made two Lego submarines, and you can see them in the video below. There isn’t a lot of build information, but watching the subs fire missiles and then getting destroyed by depth charges is worth something.

One of the subs is larger and uses a rudder to steer. It was apparently harder to control than the other smaller sub which used two motors thrusting opposite one another to steer. Looks like fun.

Continue reading “Lego Goes Underwater, With Model Submarines And Missiles”

Radio Controlled Wheelbarrows Tear Up The Track

The wheelbarrow is a trusty companion to the gardening set, helping move heavy loads to and fro. [James Bruton] has an active imagination however, deciding to build a motorized racing barrow, and challenging his friends to do the same (Youtube link, embedded below).

[James] went with a straightforward design, fitting two wheels to the rear, and powering them with brushless inrunner motors. The original front wheel was then fitted with a caster mechanism to allow the barrow to be skid steered. A pair of lithium polymer batteries provide the juice, with [James] using VESC skateboard ESCs to run the motors. The whole contraption is radio controlled, with an Arduino handling the mixing for steering duties.

The motorized barrow performed well against its competition, a propeller-powered barrow from [Tom Stanton] and a leaf-blower propelled barrow from [Ivan Miranda]. Inclement weather did cause some issues, but the trio were kind enough to treat us to a destruction derby with their racing machines.

You may be familiar with [James]’ earlier work on the openDog project. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Radio Controlled Wheelbarrows Tear Up The Track”

3D Printing A Lifting Body Aircraft

When you think of unconventional aircraft, flying wings have had plenty of time in the sun over the last few decades. With striking designs like the B-2 Spirit and F-117A Nighthawk on the flight line, it’s no surprise. The lifting body never really caught on, however, and it languishes in ignominy to this day. Despite their obscurity, [rctestflight] decided to 3D print a few lifting bodies for himself and take them out for a field test (YouTube video, embedded below).

Most aircraft have a body designed with low drag, and wings designed to provide lift. Lifting body aircraft focus the body design on providing that lift and often have no real wing to the design, needing only control surfaces to compliment the body. For this project, several different designs were constructed, with the craft being drop-launched from a multirotor at significant altitude. Initial tests were hamstrung by stability problems, both due to center of gravity issues and uncertain aerodynamic phenomena. The early designs were particularly prone to suddenly entering an unrecoverable flat spin. Later modifications included the addition of further stabilizers, which helped performance somewhat.

3D printing is a great way to experiment with aerodynamic phenomena, as it’s easy to create all manner of complicated geometries to tinker with. [rctestflight] has done solid work developing a basic craft, and we’d love to see the work continue with powered tests and more development. If flying wings are more your jam, though, you can 3D print those too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “3D Printing A Lifting Body Aircraft”

WiFi Controlled Plane Is Cheap Flying Fun

The world of radio controlled aircraft used to be an expensive and exclusive hobby, limited to those with the time and money to invest in difficult builds and pricey radio gear. More recently, the hobby has become more accessible, with cheap ready to fly planes available that can be flown in smaller spaces like suburban parks. [Ravi Butani] has built just such a plane, and you can even fly it with your smartphone!

An ESP8266 does double duty here as both the brains and the communication system. A custom smartphone app communicates with the plane over WiFi. Touching the screen increases the throttle, while steering is achieved through tilting the phone. There’s also monitoring of signal strength and battery level, with the phone vibrating if the plane is getting out of range or low on battery.

Flight control is via differential thrust, with power coming courtesy of two small DC motors controlled by tiny SMD MOSFETs. The plane flies remarkably well in still conditions, and the WiFi connection is stable in an open park environment. [Ravi] reports that control is possible at a range of around 70 meters using a Motorola G5S smartphone.

Despite the simplicity of the build and the low cost of the components, the final product performs admirably. It would be a great weekend project, and at the end of it, you get to go and fly your new plane! If you’re worried about keeping your batteries charged, don’t worry – there’s a solution for that. Video after the break.

Continue reading “WiFi Controlled Plane Is Cheap Flying Fun”

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. Continue reading “A Garbage Bag Skirt Is Fit For A Hovercraft”