Hovercraft Sketch

Arduino Powered Hovercraft

As a runner up in the final round of a competition to represent TMW at the 2013 South by South West festival in Texas, I was awarded a personal development fund to the value of £250. Not at all shabby! I am going to use the money to fund a new project – an Arduino powered hovercraft.

The intention is that by doing this project I will hone my making skills, electronic skills, learn about wireless technology, data collection and have built a fun, modular platform that can be controlled via software. I’m planning to strap a few ultrasound sensors to it and see if I can make it autonomous, as well as exploring whether it is possible to map an environment via feedback from these sensors. In future I can add a camera for FPV driving, GPS shield and hopefully an automated Nerf gun launcher. Excited!

7 thoughts on “Arduino Powered Hovercraft”

  1. Hey Flymo, thanks for all the advice! Very useful. I assummed (upon a hunch) that more blades for your prop would be better for generating lift, I was planning on looking for something with 8 blades or so. Could you explain why less might be better? How did you find this post BTW?

    Thanks again!

  2. Great project, Roo!
    We used to design & build hovercraft of various sizes back in the day. Most were full scale racers, from 14 to 140 bhp. If you ever need to talk things over, the HCGB site and forum is a pretty good place to go. http://www.hovercraft.org.uk/

    Looks like you are planning a bag skirt – excellent choice for a scale hovercraft. The model aircraft ducted fan may or may not be ideal – aircraft propulsors are optimised for higher speeds, may be partially stalled at hovercraft speeds, and will not be at their best from a standing start when you need to get it over the hump on water. A partial fix is to add intake vanes that swirl the incoming air to the fan in the same direction as the fan’s rotation – this reduces the effective AoA of the blades.

    When using model aircraft props on scale hovercraft we’d typically choose a 2-blade prop that was a bit finer in pitch than that recommended for the engine/rpm – and then mount a second (identical) prop at 90 degrees to make it a 4-blader. This increases the prop solidity and moves the optimisation a bit closer to the static thrust condition needed for hump.

    Yours may have more than enough thrust, of course! Hope that’s the case.

    Oh, and remember that small man-carrying hovercraft are mostly steered by weight-shift. It’s just like snow skiing.

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