Hand holding cracker box with propellers and a battery

How to Make a Hovercraft

This month we’ll be showing you how to make a hovercraft.

This project is a super low-cost way to repurpose a couple of drone motors and learn about these cool vehicles.

We’ll explain the basics of how these amphibious vehicles work, and then will share step-by-step instructions for building your own cracker box hovercraft.

This project and all Geek Pack Hack activities must be undertaken with a suitable adult completing their own risk assessment and supervising their children at all times.

You can check out our video tutorial on how to make a hovercraft and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with new projects.

Everything is explained below as well.

How Hovercrafts Work

Since hovercrafts hover, there’s less friction between them and what’s below. This allows them it can glide over surfaces.

Because they can move over land and water, they’s called “amphibious” vehicles.

A simple hovercraft design has large fans that blow air downwards. This creates a cushion of air for the hovercraft to glide on.

Drawing of hovercraft showing a skirt surrounding the lower air cushion, a central fan, and a rear fan

Flexible skirts keep the air from escaping and increase the height of the cushion.

There’s also usually another fan blowing backwards in order to propel the hovercraft forwards.

Uses of Hovercrafts

Large hovercraft like this have been used as ferries for carrying people and cars and military operations.

Photo of a large hovercraft

Smaller hovercraft are used as rescue vehicles on water and ice.

Photo of a rescue hovercraft

The smallest ones are used by people racing for fun.

Image of a small hovercraft

Supplies to Make a Hovercraft

We used motors and propellers from this type of toy drone (after it stopped working!)

A thin cardboard box, like a cracker or cereal box

Stiff wire– we used 18 AWG magnet wire

9-volt battery (this lithium 9-volt battery isn’t as heavy as a typical 9-volt battery, which could be too heavy for propellers to push)

9-volt battery connector

Wire connectors

A crafting knife

Tape

Steps to Make a Hovercraft

Step 1: Cut holes for the propellers

Step 2: Attach motors to box

Step 3: Connect motor wires to battery

Step 4: Test it out!

Step 1: Cut holes for the propellers

Start by cutting a couple of holes the same distance from the ends of the box. The holes should be about the same size as the propellers.

Cracker box with two holes, each approximately the size of a drone propeller.

Step 2: Attach motors to box

Wind the stiff wire around each motor in a tight loop.

Wire wound around motor.

Use tape to secure the wire around each motor.

Wire holder taped to motor.

Use pliers to bend the ends of the wire.

Bent ends of wire holder

Tape wires to attach motors to box.

Wires taped to attach motors to box.

Step 3: Connect motor wires to battery

Make a little hole and thread the motor wires up to the top of the box.

Hovercraft box with hole on top and wires poking through.

Place the battery holder on the battery and tape the battery to the box.

Use the wire connector to complete the circuit: insert the motor wires into the slots on one side of the wire connector and insert the battery holder wires into the slot on the other side of the wire connector.

If the wires of the motors are matching colors, insert the same colored wires into the same slot. If the colors are different, you’ll have to experiment to get the motors to spin in the same direction.

Step 4: Test out your hovercraft!

The propellers will spin clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on which way you inserted the battery connector wires into the wire connector. You can experiment with reversing the battery holder wires in the wire connector to see what makes the hovercraft hover better.

If you enjoyed this project or have questions, please leave us a comment!

Are there other projects you’d like us to build? Let us know!

Check out all of our cool engineering projects.

Or, narrow in on our simplest basic electrical circuit projects or our slightly more advanced electrical engineering projects. 

We also have a helpful basic electronics page that teaches skills such as how to use a breadboard and multimeter.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free monthly newsletter to receive Geek Pack Hack updates along with an even wackier simple circuit project. Have fun!

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