Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hover Sled Part I

     Ok so some time ago, I saw someone, somewhere floating about on a homemade hovercraft, slapped together with little more than a shower curtain, a piece of plywood and an old vacuum cleaner. This of course set me to thinking about how I could join the ranks of such bold aeronauts of the DIY persuasion. So, I naturally started reading up on the subject and scoured webpage after webpage. Finally I found one that spoke to me in both ease of construction, and in simple enough terms that would allow my mind to easily digest the concepts while allowing for my own improvising of design. The author, WilliamJ. Beaty appears to be a research engineer and as far as I can tell his design for the ULTRA-SIMPLEHOVERCREFT was created for a child’s science fair project. I won’t go into detail or rip off any of the pictures from his website out of respect and more importantly because I am lazy when it comes to displaying all my research. 
This project is really just a pass time for me. My home is in great need of repairs and I always seem to be working on it. Between that, and my career, I need a little break from time to time. I figure a small project that exercises both manual dexterity and engineering skill will keep me somewhat sane. The only restrictions I will put on myself are that the cost needs to be kept at a minimum, there is no time limit on completion, and I have to have fun doing it. This means cutting corners to improvise, and a high likelihood that there will be plenty of silliness involved.  Now with that said I believe it’s time to get started.
The bathroom off of my master bedroom is my current embarrassment. When it was in full functioning order, I was ashamed to “do my business” in it, and now that it is all ripped apart and stripped down to its bare bones, I feel like I am going to the bathroom in a half built, shell of a home. It really is rather depressing. Because of other home projects going on, my bathroom was stuck in a state of limbo. I demolished it to get rid of some potential mold problems, and placed a functioning sink and toilet in it. Then before I knew what was going on, my wife had me working on a back room to get it all painted and have the outlets swapped out to something from this century. As a result of this, my bathroom sat, caught between a world of utter ruin, and a functioning lavatory of mere floor boards and wall studs. This past weekend was my first chance to start working on it again. I replaced a piece of drywall in the ceiling and was prepping things to remove some of the shower plumbing. I needed a pipe cutter to start removing the plumbing from the shower, and the one that I have was hopelessly buried in my garage somewhere. To save time a trip to Lowes was in order.

While at Lowes I spotted some 7/16th roofing OSB that was on sale for nine dollars. I just couldn’t resist and ended up buying a piece. For deep within the recesses of my mind the dreams of sliding about on a personal hovercraft started to bubble forth into my consciousness. A small voice whispered to me, “It is time”, and before I knew what was going on, I was strapping a 4x8 piece of OSB to the top of my vehicle. I never did end up buying a pipe cutter.

Ok, so this is what I have so far. I am roughly following the plans for the ULTRA-SIMPLE HOVERCREFT. For manageability I cut the 4x8 piece of OSB in half so I would not be tripping over it in my garage. Here you see the piece up on saw horses. If you look closely you will see my failed attempt at drawing a circular pattern on the board so I could cut it down into a disk shape. On further inspection of this photo, particularly in the background you will notice that it is also trash night, and I still have left over flags from Memorial Day on the floor of my garage.

       Because, and I must stress again that, I am lazy. I was all ready to engage my saber saw into cutting out this crudely drawn pattern on the OSB, when I started to feel a little pang of shame growing inside of me. Sure this is a crappy ghetto version of a hovercraft but I should at least have an ounce of self respect in making it appear as if some symmetry was involved with its construction. It then became clear to me that I needed a better way to draw a circle on to the OSB.

          I started by carefully measuring where the center of the OSB was and then drilled a ½ inch hole there.

Next I drilled two ½ inch holes in a scrap piece of wood. The distance apart being the radius of the circle, this was around 2 feet. I then secured one side of the scrap wood to the center hole of the OSB and dropped a purple crayon into the other hole.

      I have to say that I was pleased with the results. I was left with a big fat purple line that my saber saw could easily follow.

By the time I had figured all this out it was starting to get late so I decided to save the cutting for another day. However, I was a little curious as to how or if the power plant would even fit onto the disk. 

     There are a few considerations that I need to take into account when mounting this. First is that it is electric so I will need a way to secure the extension cord as not to have it pop out in mid operation, secondly I will need to elevate it because the air intake is on the bottom. And finally I will need a way for it to fit compactly onto the disk while allowing the air to be channeled downward towards the skirt all while I am sitting on it.

This is roughly what I envisioned. I can secure the leaf blower up on a few pieces of 2x4 using clamps so it will not move. Then I can have the air channeled downward using an old 2 inch 90 degree PVC elbow, that I will modify to fit the task. I can then construct a small seat above the PVCelbow to plant my fat ass upon.

                Keep in mind that this is just the plan and is subject to many variations along the way. After all it’s supposed to be fun that I am having, so I am just going to cast a lot of stuff into the wind and just kind of experiment and let the project take me where it will.


  1. It is magnificent how you have contrived to totally unfold the topic which you have picked out for this peculiar blog entry. By the way did you use any similar posts as a source of ideas to be able to complete the whole situation that you have published in your post?

    1. Thanks for reading. I did not use any sort of inspiration other then dreaming about playing with one since I saw ads in the back of comic books for plans using a vacuum cleaner back when I was a kid.

      As for unfolding the topic, well I suppose the talent of nearly unbearable digression just comes naturally if you are a programmer responsible for your own documentation :)