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  1. #1
    Less than 10 posts so far!
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    Default To build a hovercraft...

    I suppose I should start off by introducing myself. My name is Josh, and I live in Texas. I have had a really hard time finding an active hovercraft forum here in the states, so I figured that you guys across the pond might be able to give me a few pointers.

    I'm president of the engineering club at my local college, and this semester we decided to build a hovercraft as a project. None of us have any experience with hovercraft at all (aside from a little toy one I've had for a while) but after doing a significant amount of research, I think we are at a point where we can start designing ours.

    The planned size is around 1.5m wide by 2.5m long. The projected weight is going to be around 225 to 250kg (With the "pilot" included) Power will be provided by a 3000w gas generator, which will power the main fan, and the two (possibly one) thrust fans. For the main fan, we plan on using a 30 inch (76.2 cm) shop fan that has around 9000 CFM air flow (We try to use metric where we can, but unfortunately the rest of the nation is rather stubborn) We've looked at a couple of smaller fans for providing thrust, but haven't really settled on one yet. Finally we plan on having some sort of braking mechanism, either a panel to deflate the skirt rapidly, or a speedbrake.

    Control will be provided by two levers on either side of the pilot, which will either control the speed of the thrust fans in a two fan system, or rotate the thrust fan (in a single fan system).

    Our biggest question right now is the skirt. I do know that we want to go with a "finger" design, mainly because it is easier to replace sections if they tear. The material also presents a challenge. We've discussed many different types, but came across four materials that may be suitable : heavy painter's drop cloth, a special plastic sheeting used in the oilfield, rip stop nylon (which I've used in the past for large model rocket parachutes) and finally a commercially available material (found on this site - http://www.slipstreamhover.com/Hover...ories_s/27.htm )

    We used this design calculator here - http://www.rqriley.com/hc-calc.html - to determine the volume of air needed to float the craft. Has anyone here used this before, and how accurate was it? I've tried to over-engineer every component between 25 to 50 percent, so that we have more power than needed, and can throttle back, rather than having something underpowered or not strong enough.

    We are also planning on using mainly plywood to construct the frame (with masonite or hardboard for low stress parts like the intake)

    Sorry for the long post, but we do have a lot of questions and concerns! I'll try to sum up our main questions briefly here.

    Are we fairly close with our numbers for a hovercraft this size? If not, what should we look at changing?

    Out of the materials listed, which one would be best for the skirt?

    Where is a good place to find skirt designs?

    Does the design calculator I posted a link to work well, or not at all? If not, how should I go about making these calculations on my own?

    Any information you guys can give us will be greatly appreciated! I will scan our design sketches later, if anyone is interested in seeing them. Thank you for your time!

    -Josh

  2. #2
    More than 30 posts! Club Member
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    Jul 2009
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    Thumbs up Re: To build a hovercraft...

    Hi Josh and welcome to the world of Hovercraft. It looks as though you've gotten your teeth in to some pretty heavy projects in the past, but I have to say that Hovercraft are pretty addictive.

    Quote Originally Posted by stormrider View Post
    ....I have had a really hard time finding an active hovercraft forum here in the states......
    You probably couldn't do much better than join the Hoverclub of America, which is affiliated to HCGB, and theres a link to their website on http://www.slipstreamhover.com/, and by the look of it theres a pretty active membership in your area.

    Im sure some of the more technical and experienced members will be along soon to offer advice, but in the meantime, best wishes from a relative newbie and good luck.

    Kev T
    Last edited by KevinT; 19-Oct-11 at 10:15 PM.

  3. #3
    Forum God > 400 posts Club Member
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    Default Re: To build a hovercraft...

    As Kevin has said our colleagues in the Hoverclub of America have a pretty active Youth section - http://www.hoverclubofamerica.org/co...odule_id=94085

    You might want to contact Marquis Songer via the Hoverclub of America site - he's their lead man on schools colleges etc.

    Keith

  4. #4
    Very active > 100 posts Club Member
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    Default Re: To build a hovercraft...

    Hi Josh,
    As mentioned by Kev and Keith - Try the Hoverclub of America!! You will find a forum where you can post as a guest in the "Local chapters section", but strongly recommend your engineering club to join the Hoverclub to gain full access to the web site and forum. We have a number of club members in TX with considerable Hovercraft experience. You have a lot of good questions and the very best thing you could do would be to see some actual hovercraft and talk with the owners. Then a lot of things will become apparent. There's a hover-in planned this weekend in the Dallas/Ft Worth area on the Brazos river. See the web site for details. Where in TX are you?
    Dave Reyburn

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