I had just stumbled across a site called www.hackaday.com, and I was fascinated. Most of the hacks were too nerdy for me to really be interested in, but one stuck out.
"Build a Hovercraft for under $100"
Yeah! As a kid I would always read the classifieds section of the Boy Scout magazine, and salivate over the plans to build a hovercraft. I wanted to build one and ride it around in school instead of walking.
My parents didn't go for that idea.
I was pumped that I would finally get my day. My friend Andrew was at my hous. I told him that I was going to build a hovercraft, and he said that it was impossible.
We bet $100 on whether or not I could build it in a day. Perfect - that was my budget.
My friend Nick was over too. He was also excited about the hovercraft and he agreed to help me build it.
Off to Home Depot.
We bought a huge square of fiberboard. We were hoping to find a round piece, but couldn't. No problem. My father is a carpenter and I used to get his hand-me-down tools, so I had plenty of saws.
Duct tape. Check.
PVC tarp for the skirt. Check.
Leaf blower. The leaf blower is what pumps the air into the skirt and lifts the thing off the ground. They suggest an electric one, but that wasn't going to give me the range I wanted.
Knowing that I'd be getting $100 for winning the bet, I splurged and bought the biggest and baddest gas leaf blower they had available for around $85.
They suggested gluing the leaf blower to the hovercraft, but I got sidetracked in the plumbing department and spent an hour - literally - combining pipes and toilet fittings and such until I came up with an awesome mount for the leaf blower. It would be removable for easy transportation.
Then we went home and got to work. The construction was pretty easy, all things considered. We rounded out the corners, mounted the piping, and built the skirt.
The hardest part was doing all the duct taping that was required. The instructions called for completely covering the bottom with tape to make it more durable. It wasn't that the labor was hard - the problem was that we were so close that it was hard to resist just flipping it over and trying it.
Finally we finished the construction and the moment of truth was upon us.
We cleared out a big area in the middle of the garage and fired up the leaf blower. Sure enough, the hovercraft created a little cushion of air to float on. Sawdust blew out from all directions.
I sat on it. and it supported my weight. It worked!
At first we were happy just taking turns pushing around my little driveway, but that didn't last.
Soon we invested in brakes, which was a kid's spiderman themed boxing glove that the driver would wear and drag on the ground to slow down.
We found that even a slight hill in a parking lot would provide enough acceleration to get some decent speed.
But that wasn't good enough either.
Before long we were scoping out huge office park driveways that didn't have speedbumps (surprisingly hard to find). We would tie a rope to a car and take turns pulling each other at 30mph.
Now that was fun. So fun, in fact, that when the Pick Up Convention came to Austin, a good portion of the attendees opted to skip going out in favor of hoverboarding.
Finally after a series of abuse, the skirt got too many holes and wouldn't float very well. When I moved out of my house I gave the rig away to a father who wanted to fix it up for his son.
Maybe he'll get to drive it in school. How bad could the carbon monoxide really be?
That is so tight i always wanted one! I just started flying kites because I thought they were fun, and it actually became a fun, odd way to pick up on girls at a lake. I was youtubing kites when I came across the coolest thing ever!!! I know thats a bold claim, but I honestly don't know if you could get something cooler than this.I know you like to do stuff out of the norm so I figured I should tell you about it. Youtube "flying manta ray". Its a boating inter tube that flys like a kite...with you on it!!!! I've always wished i could fly on a kite, and now you actually can!!! If you got one and did a blog about it that would totally rock!!! Let me know what you think about it thanks! -Owen
That's the only pic I have... the others are a bit dark. It doesn't really convey the sheer terror of being dragged behind a car on it.
No pics? Awesome none the less.
There is always such a great deal of satisfaction from pulling off things like this as well.
When I was a kid with a little help from my dad (who also was a carpenter and built the family home)we made a serious billy cart from an old pram frame, some lawn mower wheels on front and the big rubber pram wheels on back plus some wood.
It was bad ass for a 6 year old.
First I was happy for dad to push me down the small hill of our driveway, then the steeper hill at the back of our property (which saw me and cart end up in the creek below - wipeout).
After seeing eskimo dog sleds on TV I roped up our two dogs (old english sheep dog and a labrador) and let them go nuts. Unfortunately that led to many collisions with trees. When dog-carting kids, don't forget your helmet and if possible get some real huskies that know what they are doing.
Years later I discovered it even worked well towed behind a car :)
When I was younger, I loved playing on swings. My best friend Ryan and I would spend all of recess on the swings, making up new tricks and seeing who could jump further. Eventually it got to the point where ankles were being sprained and we had both perfected the backflip off the swing.
Now, many years later, I still love swinging despite encountering fewer opportunities to do it. One of the distinctive features at my new building is a large metal terrace hanging over the rooftop patio. Since moving in I've wanted to build a swing on it so that I could swing over the edge of the building.
I'm not sure why, but yesterday inspiration struck and I decided that it would be that day I built my swing. Evan and Jonah were with me. Evan was upset by the idea, worried that I might die. Jonah was also eager to swing, and helped me assure Evan that I did stuff like this all the time, and that I wouldn't die. She wasn't wholly convinced.
My job is mostly to hold the flashlight. Sometimes I'll cut things - mostly straight -and I'll do a lot of holding of things. My name is Mike, and I can't fix much of anything.
This is may not be entirely true. I might have an average fixing ability but both my father and father-in-law are engineers so it seems like they've fixed everything. They also come from a generation that seems like it's able to do things. To fix things and make them better. To know how to ground an electrical wire, hang a ceiling fan, change belts on cars. That's what these guy do, it's what they've always done.
What I've always done is listen to music. A few days ago the Eve 6 song Inside Out came on the radio and I did what any other person my age would do. I turned it up (while quickly trying to think if there were any parts of the song that were inappropriate for the kids in the back seat). Inside Out was released in 1998 and isn't a very good song. It's a good representation of songs that were out in 1998 but it would be considered about average. I wasn't average though, I was 16 and in the prime years of building the library of songs I liked.
Metallica, Hunger, Eve 6, CCR, Springsteen. These were the bands that I was growing to love because I was able to drive and listen to the radio as loudly as I wanted. Fast forward to 2004 or rewind to 1992 and none of the song equivalents to Inside Out would get me to pause while channel surfing the radio. 1997-2004 were my music building years where I cataloged my favorite songs. I can develop new favorites - John Prine's Paradise is a recent example - but I don't add to my list often.
In my teens and earlier twenties I developed a taste for music, in my late twenties and thirties I built my fix it library. Inch by inch and mistake my mistake I'm slowly learning all the things my fathers know because that's how they did it. My paternal grandfather was another engineer, running his own construction company and my father in-law's father put on countless roofs and fixed countless homes. For both of these men their chief helpers were their oldest children - my fathers. They spent longer crafting their abilities to fix things but for as wizardly as they are they, they were still novices once.