Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

So You've Always Wanted a Hovercraft... (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year and a half ago | from the it's-all-about-the-air-cushion dept.

Transportation 66

What little boy or girl never wanted a hovercraft? Something loud that could travel over water, pavement, maybe even over a plowed field or through a swamp? Ben King obviously wanted one, so after he grew up and got his PhD in physics and found a good job, he founded Lone Star Hovercraft. Timothy Lord interviewed Ben at the Austin Mini Maker Faire, and we also found some video of Ben flying (is that the right word?) one of his hovercraft on a lake that we spliced into the interview to liven it up a little. Vroom!

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (4, Funny)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784457)

I'm not very fond of eels, and I'm afraid my hovercraft might get full of them.

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784673)

Best. Frist. Psot. Evar.

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784687)

I'm not very fond of eels, and I'm afraid my hovercraft might get full of them.

As long as you don't take your hovercraft to the tobacconist, you should be fine.

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (1)

bizitch (546406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784985)

My nipples explode with life!

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785293)

Bzzzzt! Wrong!

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786379)

My nipples explode with delight

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (1)

bizitch (546406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786503)

Damnit - you are correct ...

.
.
. .do you want to go to my place -- bouncy-bouncy?

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43788023)

Please fondle my bum.

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (3, Funny)

TeknoHog (164938) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785449)

I've had it with these motherfucking eels in this motherfucking hovercraft!

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785565)

BTW, I always wanted a hoverboard like those in Back to the Future II, so shameless plug [iki.fi]

Re:I've always wanted a hovercraft BUT... (1)

cgimusic (2788705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786113)

Provided you buy your translation dictionary from a reputable dealer you should be fine.

Been there, done that (3, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786919)

When I was a teenager, the father of a wealthy school friend won a hovercraft in a card game. It looked quite similar to the one above. It was powered by a Bombardier snow mobile engine and was extremely loud. It would only hover when the fan was running, as the airstream for the hovering air came from a diverted stream of about 1/3rd of the prop wash air. Steering it felt a lot like trying to push one of those Ikea shopping carts that has four pivoting wheels...during a turn, you end up going sideways for a time. Going over water, it felt not unlike being on a loud boat or a seadoo. Going over land, it felt like being on a loud ground vehicle. The cool part came when we could drive it over a mud flat which alternated between sand and water. It really was an unusual sensation. The problem was that it ate fuel like crazy. It was far worse than a regular boat. The other problem was that when it came to a rest, the sand started to grind down the bottom. We did mitigate this by adding some fiberglass enforced wooden rails. Overall, it was great fun as a teenager, but even if I had the money to dump on such a toy, I doubt I would.

not unless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784475)

it was full of eels.

Re:not unless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43786003)

But not if it's scratched.

Forget full-sized hovercraft (2)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784493)

I have my hoverboard with jets at the side pre-ordered for 2015.

Re:Forget full-sized hovercraft (2)

jamiesan (715069) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785805)

Made by Acme? You aren't by chance chasing a road runner are you?

Hovecraft prototype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784497)

It already exists, some videos were taken weeks ago : Hovecraft [youtube.com]

Cross-channel Hovercrafts (3, Interesting)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784697)

I miss the hovercrafts that used to cross the English Channel. Very cool machines that would make you throw up in anything but the calmest seas - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A02u03xhpPw [youtube.com] . Victims of the EuroStar and other circumstances. You want fast, you go by train, you want low-cost, you go by ferry.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784825)

Those are gone? I crossed the channel years ago in one. And yeah. I hurled.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#43788561)

I crossed on one when I was little. Maybe nine or ten. Fairly choppy weather. I remember I was reading a disney comic of some sort. One of the stories definitely involved Mickey Mouse holding some people at gunpoint with a machine gun, but it turned out the guns had no firing pins. Odd the things you remember. Anyway, I didn't get sick at all. It's sort of odd that. I used to get carsick when I was younger, but then I suddenly reached a point where I never seemed to get any sort of motion sickness at all any more.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785115)

No embedded capital S in Eurostar. (Why do Americans always do this?) Also plural of hovercraft is "hovercraft".

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785441)

No embedded capital S in Eurostar. (Why do Americans always do this?) Also plural of hovercraft is "hovercraft".

Hovercraft? Hovercrafts? Hmm.

"Dear sir. I would like to order your Lone Star Hovercraft, plus another Lone Star hovercraft".

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43790051)

How about "Hoverscraft"?

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (1)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about a year and a half ago | (#43794739)

No embedded capital S in Eurostar. (Why do Americans always do this?) Also plural of hovercraft is "hovercraft".

Hovercraft? Hovercrafts? Hmm.

"Dear sir. I would like to order your Lone Star Hovercraft, plus another Lone Star hovercraft".

Hoverscraft (or HoversCraft)? (As in CourtsMartial?) It's all fun and games on SlashDot.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785287)

You want fast, you go by train, you want low-cost, you go by ferry.

Although you can't use Eurotunnel (the car/truck/bus shuttle train that goes portal to portal) as a foot passenger, you can go with a bicycle for £16 single; £16 day return; £32 standard return. You need to book 24 hours in advance. Ferry fares are around £50 return for a foot passenger Dover-Calais.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785315)

It's not EuroStar; it's Eurostar, and the plural of hovercraft is... hovercraft.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785829)

You want fast, you use a teleporter. You want low-cost, you stay home.

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43791411)

When small, I went on the first public hovercraft service [wikipedia.org] that ran in 1962 between Moreton (England) and Rhyl (Wales). I suppose you could also call it the first international service too! I don't remember much about the trip, apart from the fact that it was quick, and bumpy across the mouth of the River Dee.....

And of course, many hobbyists and small companies build small hovercraft for leisure use even now. They don't look much different to the ones being produced by Lone Star Hovercraft. Even Top Gear [youtube.com] had a segment with the presenters mucking (literally) about in small hovercraft.

Finally, Lone Star? Ok, they're from Texas, but in the UK there used to be an outfit that made Toy diecast capguns and spud guns (amongst other things) who were called Lonestar [wikipedia.org] . I can't really take a manufacturerer with that name very seriously any more!!!

Re:Cross-channel Hovercrafts (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43800031)

Lonestar will forever be associated with one of the worst beers the world has ever tasted.

I'd love one of those (2)

kraut (2788) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784753)

Although I have to say that the downside is that these are going to be just as annoying as jetskis, but in places where jetskis can't go.

The other day I had two share a beautiful, quiet, peaceful woodland with two irritating idiots on noisy little dirtbags. not nice.

Re:I'd love one of those (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43784995)

The other day I had two share a beautiful, quiet, peaceful woodland with two irritating idiots on noisy little dirtbags. not nice.

Unless the woodland was posted or riding there was prohibited,
those guys on bikes had just as much right as you to be there.

Seriously, consider suicide as a viable option for your whining punk ass;
it will always be quiet then.

Re:I'd love one of those (-1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786439)

I always make sure to roost some gravel onto the sneering assholes.

Re:I'd love one of those (1, Insightful)

natophonic (103088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43787503)

See, this is why I'm hesitant to carry a gun; if that were you and me, you'd either be dead, or have a hole in your gas tank.

Re:I'd love one of those (2, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43787729)

I more or less always pack in the woods. Better make the first shot count.

Re:I'd love one of those (1)

gottabeme (590848) | about a year and a half ago | (#43788583)

You're full of speculation. And you ignore the fact that sound travels beyond property lines. Basically, you don't seem to care how your actions affect others. And you encourage suicide. I'd say you're the one who needs to stop talking.

Re:I'd love one of those (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43789755)

You can always buy the woodland and keep it the way you want. Otherwise, learn to share idiot.

No, flying isn't the correct word. (4, Funny)

SoCalChris (573049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43784893)

The word that you're looking for is hovering. As in "hovercraft".

Re:No, flying isn't the correct word. (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785669)

The word that you're looking for is hovering. As in "hovercraft".

This isn't flying, this is falling with style!

Re:No, flying isn't the correct word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785687)

Actually 'flying' is the correct term, since hovering implies staying in one place, and this hovercraft is traveling forward, not touching the ground.

Re:No, flying isn't the correct word. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43786171)

American Heritage Dictionary:
hover [answers.com]

(hv'r, hv'-) pronunciation
intr.v., -ered, -ering, -ers.

        To remain floating, suspended, or fluttering in the air: gulls hovering over the waves.
        To remain or linger in or near a place: hovering around the speaker's podium.

Illegal in Ann Arbor. (Or so I've heard.) (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43790471)

No, flying isn't the correct word.

Story I heard, back in the '60s. (Don't know if it's true, unfortunately. But I think we have some Ann Arborites here who might check the city ordinances.)

Plans had been published for making homemade hovercraft with a salvaged lawnmower engine. Stand on it like a Segway and steer by leaning.

Kid had made one and decided to take it down the LOOOONG, somewhat steep, slope of Hill street one night. (I shiver at the thought of how fast that would be going near the bottom...)

Cops had a radar trap and clocked him at freeway speeds. Issued him a ticket.

He fought it, claiming that the cops had no jurisdiction because he was flying, not driving. Didn't touch the ground. Take it up with the FAA.

Traffic court judge (rightly or wrongly) agreed that this might be true and the cops hadn't proven jurisdiction, so he dismissed the ticket.

City Council banned hovercraft within the city limits shortly thereafter. B-b

Re:No, flying isn't the correct word. (1)

ketomax (2859503) | about a year and a half ago | (#43791299)

I prefer witching in a witchcraft

Looks fancy and all, but... (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785001)

When I was at school about twenty years ago some of the kids built a similar-sized hovercraft as a project and used to ride it around the playground. Given how cheap our school was, it can't have cost them much other than a second-hand engine and some wood for the body and fins and rubber for the skirt.

Recently I read an old Arthur C Clarke article from the 50s or 60s about how hovercraft were to be the future of transport and no-one would want wheels any more. I guess it just wasn't this particular future.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785239)

When I was at school about twenty years ago some of the kids built a similar-sized hovercraft as a project and used to ride it around the playground. Given how cheap our school was, it can't have cost them much other than a second-hand engine and some wood for the body and fins and rubber for the skirt.

My niece wanted a hovercraft and she built one using plans from the internet. Just a sheet of plywood, cut in a circle, a shower curtain, duct tape and a leaf blower. It didn't have any propulsion, but it was damn fun to ride down hill.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (1)

fliptout (9217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786257)

I so know what I am doing this weekend!

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (0)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43789619)

This could be an xkcd skit.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (3, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785467)

Recently I read an old Arthur C Clarke article from the 50s or 60s about how hovercraft were to be the future of transport and no-one would want wheels any more. I guess it just wasn't this particular future.

I always wanted a hovercraft in the future, but I was too lazy to learn Esperanto.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43787325)

Their problem is (1) active suspension, and (2) lack of directional stability.

(1) If your car is stopped at a red light and its hybrid engine shuts off, you're burning no energy. A hovercraft stopped at a red light is still burning energy to maintain the air cushion. Same thing is true at speed - the car's suspension keeps the chassis off the ground at (close to) zero energy cost. A hovercraft is always burning energy to stay off the ground.

(2) When you drive a car on a road, the wheels are physically locked (up to the coefficient of static friction) with the road. You have to exert a significant amount of torque to the car before the wheels unlock from the road and the car starts to spin/skid. So a car is pointed in the direction it's traveling nearly all the time. This reduces directional control to a simple one degree of freedom problem - the more you turn the steering wheel, the faster you change direction.

With a hovercraft, the slightest torque on it will change its orientation. Even an airplane does better - its high forward velocity generates a stabilizing aerodynamic force on the tail to keep it pointed somewhat in the direction of travel. OTOH, a hovercraft's slower forward velocity means it needs to rely on vectored thrust for orientation stability. So now you've got a direction of desired travel which is mostly uncoupled from the direction the hovercraft is pointing (yaw). And if you do get turned away from the direction you're traveling, a righting moment to yaw it in the right direction again will also impart a small translation, thus changing your direction of travel slightly.

It's actually more akin to piloting a spacecraft in 2D than it is driving a car. You can do tricks like spinning 360 degrees without changing your direction of travel (much). Which is fun in theory, and perhaps useful if you're in combat. But it's added complexity which makes piloting one more dangerous that driving a car for the average layperson.

Also, the advantage that it can travel over water is a bit of a misnomer. At low velocities, a hovercraft on water acts pretty much the same as a displacement hull. The air cushion sinks down until it's displacing the hovercraft's weight in water. Moving forward then involves pushing the hovercraft uphill over the front lip of the depression in the water it creates, just like a displacement hull. You're only slightly better off than if you were in an amphibious car. As you pick up speed, the wave resistance begins to decrease. The tradeoff point where it becomes more efficient than a planing hull varies with size, but it's typically around 30-50 knots, which is why they haven't displaced planing boats as the recreational watercraft of choice - there's little to no advantage at these speeds. For it to be nearly as efficient as traveling on a solid surface, you have to be moving at close to 100 knots over the water.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (1)

Anonymatt (1272506) | about a year and a half ago | (#43791937)

You mentioned hovercraft combat.

One time I was being chased by this maniac in a hovercraft. He even ran me over on the beach. I got some sand in my mouth, but I was unharmed. He chased me all through town. Eventually I grabbed a sword from an antiques shop and commandeered a Lamborghini. Playing chicken with the hovercraft, I swerved at the last moment and was able to slice up its tender bits. So hovercrafts are quite vulnerable to swords. I still was pretty lucky though.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43789489)

good reason they aren't more popular in the one to four person size range, they get horrible fuel economy. My two friends get 4 to 6 miles per gallon on water with theirs. funny the claims the vendors make of them using half the fuel of a boat, the hovercraft is carrying only people but a boat will be able to have cargo too.

Re:Looks fancy and all, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43790643)

Yeah, on a boat the water holds you up, on a hovercraft the air holds you up, but you have to provide the air, continuously and in high volume. Bright idea, but a dead-end technology. Large ferries that do over 30 knots economically are now commonplace, which was not the case when the hovercraft was invented.

Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43785749)

Slow news day?

Lone Star Hovercraft? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43785793)

I'd prefer the Dark Helmet model.

Boys Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43786259)

Looks like someone bought the plans form the back of a Boys Life magazine.

Who am I kidding, I bought the plans too.

Re:Boys Life? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786475)

My mom was ready to kill me when she saw what I had done to her vacuum cleaner. I put it back together and all was forgiven.

I wonder when we will find.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43786815)

..that an American really invented the Hovercraft?

Why is this special? (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43786913)

Plans for these have been around forever. Many, many people have built them.
hovercraft.com [hovercraft.com] has many plans and kits for sale.

When my son was 9, he called me at work one day. "Dad, do we have a leaf blower?"....Yes..."Do we have a piece of plywood 4 feet wide?"....Yes. (I can see the wheels turning)...He goes on to list a bunch of other parts.
'Ok, dude....why?'
"I have a science project! I want to make a hovercraft!"

"OK then." He had gone online and found plans for a simple floating platform. No forward thrust, powered by a leaf blower.

It worked well enough to float my fatass down the driveway.

He got an A. My wife freaked out when I chose this as a teaching moment in how to use a circular saw.

Re:Why is this special? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43787389)

My wife freaked out when I chose this as a teaching moment in how to use a circular saw.

Good times.

Can you still count to ten?

Re:Why is this special? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about a year and a half ago | (#43787901)

I can, and a decade+ later so can he.

Re:Why is this special? (3, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about a year and a half ago | (#43790225)

And even better, with both of his shoes off he can count to 14.

If engine gives out, will it sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43787123)

He mentions that the core is foam and is covered in fiberglass. If the engine gives out, will it float, like a jet ski, or sink?

Re:If engine gives out, will it sink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43788399)

Let's tie him to it and find out.

This was news...30 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43788683)

My stepdad worked for a company based out of Florida, back in the 80, called Hoverstar USA. In the summer when I came down to visit them, I'd go to work with him often.

They used to use 440cc snowmobile engines, fully hand-made fiberglass hulls, and nice nylon skirts. We used to have a BALL demo'ing those out at the Jensen Beach Causeway. They were awesome for divers, as even powered down and free-floating a guy in full SCUBA gear and double tanks could climb over the side from in the water and it was plenty stable.

A nerd I knew ... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year and a half ago | (#43790241)

... did the first hovercraft crossing of the Cook Strait in a home-built hovercraft. He then checked out the ferry times for the return trip home, checked his watch, and shortly after did the second hovercraft crossing of the Cook Strait in a home-built hovercraft.

Classic hovercraft disaster ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43790517)

Homemade hovercraft used to be a big thing since at least the '50s or '60s (and for all I know still are). Typically made by putting a prop on a vertical-axle lawnmower engine and building a simple vehicle body with a fan shroud in the middle.

There was a classic disaster that happened to a LOT of people who did this:

After they'd played around on land with it for a while they'd decide to test how it would perform on water. So they'd take it down to the local park-on-a-lake, fire it up, and drive out onto the lake.

It would work fine ... for a few minutes. Just long enough to get maybe 20 feet or so, over well over-their-heads water...

Then the spray it was kicking up and sucking back around the motor on its way to the fan would finally short out the spark wiring. Oops!

Of course they usually hadn't included any floats...

My Criticism of hovercraft (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | about a year and a half ago | (#43801335)

Why hovercraft never caught on:

Expectation: http://www.google.com/search?q=concept+hovercraft [google.com]

Reality: http://images.google.com/search?q=hovercraft [google.com]

Perform this search experiment with Hoverbike/Concept Hoverbike as your search term and the disparity is worse - the real world things, even the expensive ones always look like they've been made in some back yard.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?