Engineering club creates hovercraft

Collin Schweirs

In case you haven’t yet heard, Elder has an engineering club that meets after school on Wednesdays. I helped co-found the club with Matt Murray and David Wehner.

The club couldn’t think of anything to fill its time with until David Wehner wanted to make a quad-copter. A quad-copter is essentially a helicopter in the shape of a cross with one rotary blade at each end of the cross.

The plan for the quad-copter went awry when David was having trouble with the blades running in accord in the proper directions: once again, the engineering club was in need of a plan.

I had been wanting to make a hovercraft for three years now, and I figured that the club would be open to suggestion, so I pitched the idea. At first the club was wary of how we would be able to create a hovercraft, but David Wehner quickly went to work making schematics in Google sketchup.

After he finished the designs, the entire club was thoroughly impressed and we decided to get to work on a scale model of the design. David had the remote control motors and controller for the hovercraft leftover from the quad-copter project.

David said that he was inspired partly by his Grandpa to get involved with RC electronics such as airplanes and cars. However, David has focused mainly on remote controlled aircraft which is why many of the parts necessary for the hovercraft were already available from his personal hobby.

The hovercraft has gone through three stages of production at this point. The first stage was a rickety version of card board and duct tape with a trash bag taped to the bottom.

The second stage of building was a much sleeker design made also of cardboard, but with electrical tape to keep a much more defined look. The black and white design made the hovercraft look as though it were designed by a toy company actually wanting to produce a hovercraft to be sold on the toy market.

The third stage is currently secret that is to be known by only the club, but you may be able to catch a glimpse of the hovercraft this year at Elderfest. The engineering club hopes to fix a few bugs on prior designs with steering so that the hovercraft is much more easily controlled.

Matt Murray said that he wanted to create a large scale hovercraft to be debuted at Elderfest, but the club could not receive funding for such a project.

If you have an interest in engineering and/or remote control vehicles, stop by the engineering club after school on Wednesday because they will always be working on an interesting project like the hovercraft.