RC Hovercraft

My project is the RC Hovercraft. It is a vehicle that is powered by 2 fans; one that points downward for lift and one that points back for thrust. It is operated through an RC controller and its approximate dimensions are 40cm long by 20cm wide. I decided I wanted to build a hovercraft because I just thought it was a very interesting concept that was pretty unorthodox. I had many ups and downs throughout the process of the build, but overall I had a lot of fun building the hovercraft.

Engineer

Zander L

Area of Interest

Mechanical Engineering (Mainly Roller Coasters)

School

SAR High School

Grade

Incoming Junior

Final Milestone

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For my second milestone, I was planning to only do the chassis, but after finishing the chassis I realized that I really just wanted to keep going and assemble and attach the skirt, so I did. After that I saw the whole chassis assembled I figured that I might as well just put in the electronic components. So now I have the hovercraft fully functional and driving around. To visualize the shape of the hovercraft’ chassis, I used TinkerCad, a computer design program. The final build of the chassis is made out of hard foam and was attached together with super glue. The skirt has 2 layers, one is attached to the bottom of the chassis with a hole in the middle for the fan to blow air through, the other is connected to the first layer with duct tape and has a lot of small holes poked through it to allow the air to flow out of the skirt downward, creating lift. I added an on/off switch to the electronics so that I don’t have to disassemble the whole thing in order to turn it off. After it was fully assembled I attempted a few test runs. After each test I realized there was a different thing wrong, for example the skirt needed more holes in the bottom or there was too much weight on one side, but eventually I solved all of them (with the help of duct tape) and finally the hovercraft was able to move around with no problems. In this milestone, I realized that duct tape actually does solve all of your problems, but seriously I learned how to approach and overcome a problem (which in this case was assembling the skirt and making the hovercraft hover).

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First Milestone

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My First Milestone was to asemble the electronics of the hovercraft. My first step was solder the wire connectors to the wires attached to the fans to connect to the 2 ESCs (Electronic Speed Controllers). Then I soldered the ESCs to each other and to a wire connector in order to connect to the battery. My first test of the fans didn’t go so well, as I wasn’t able to secure and control them. In preparation for the next test, I secured the fan in the side of a cardboard box and test #2 went a little better as the fan was secure, but I still wasn’t able to fully control it. I then did some research and realized that the best channel to connect the ESCs to are channels 2 and 3 (I had previously connected them to channel 1). Test #3 went much better as I was now able to control the speed of the fan and turn it on and off. The most challenging part of this milestone was probably finding a way to secure the fan in place in order to be tested.

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Starter Project

My Starter Project is the Light Organ, which is a device that flashes lights in a synchronized, methodical when it hears sound. When the microphone picks up a sound, a message is sent to the LEDs to light up in a certain way. A more detailed description of the Light Organ can be found in the video to the left and in the paragraph below. Throughout this project, I learned a lot about soldering, as every piece in the circuit needed to be soldered on.

How it works

After being connected to a battery, the microphone on the Light Organ picks up a sound and the LEDs flash in a synchronized, methodical pattern according to the sound picked up by the microphone. The ICs, or microchips, direct the current to everything else in the circuit. The battery is constantly sending electrical energy at a slow rate through the ICs, and that energy is stored in Electrolytic capacitors, and when the microphone picks up a sound, the capacitors rapidly send the energy that was stored inside them to the LEDs through the transistors, which regulate how much electricity flows by opening or closing a pathway for the electricity to travel through. The resistors then slow down the electrical current going to the LEDs, so that not too much electricity is sent to them so that they don’t explode.

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