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Homemade RC Airboats

By Grahame Turner ; Updated April 18, 2017

Airboats are fast-moving, shallow boats ideal for transport across swampy areas such as the Everglades in Florida and Louisiana. They are lightweight and agile, using their powerful air fan and rudder mechanism to skim over the water. Building your own, homemade airboat is not completely easy, but the mechanism is not overly complex to design either. You should know a little about building remote-control vehicles to be able to build your own airboat model.

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Build a base for the vehicle. A base made of styrofoam, about 8 inches wide by 12 inches long, or whatever dimensions you would prefer to make. Round off the sides and taper slightly the base toward the front.

Build a mount for the fan motor out of balsa wood. Place the mount about 2 inches from the rear of the base, and have it stand about 4 inches tall. Leave the glue to dry overnight.

Make a seat out of balsa panels, as well as a slot to store the receiver and power supply for the boat underneath the seat. This should extend toward the front of the boat, but not exceed about 3 inches from the front of the boat.

Mount the motor on the frame you built for it. Attach the propeller to the mounted motor.

Build a rudder that connects to the airboat on the back of the propeller. Build a wooden frame that surrounds the propeller, but does not impeded the motor's movement. Attach a hinged rudder to it, as well as a small wooden "handle" that reaches to the motor mount.

Install the servo so it attaches to the handle on the rudder, and mounts on the motor frame.

Wire the servo and the motor to the receiver. Place these in the slot hidden under the seat.

Connect the battery to the power supply. Attach that to the boat as well.

Test the servo motor to make sure it moves the rudder as needed. Test that the motor also increases and decreases speed as needed.

Things You Will Need

  • Styrofoam base
  • Balsa wood panels
  • Glue
  • 1/4-inch balsa sticks
  • Motor
  • RC plane propeller
  • Hinge (loose)
  • Wires
  • Servo
  • RC reciever
  • RC vehicle battery
  • Action figure (optional)

Tip

You can place an action figure in the driver's seat to make it look like someone is actually driving the boat.

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About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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