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The HOVERhopper

Radio Controlled Hovercraft Model

Using a Model Aircraft Glow Engine


This Radio Controlled Hovercraft Model Design

Full Constructional Plans Available on CD ROM - 

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How to Get Your Own Copy of the  Hover Hopper Plans

You can get a full set of Hover Hopper plans on a CD with construction details, video clips and a step by step 'build it' guide

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Developing the Hover Hopper


By Kevin Jackson


Countless e-mail requests for plans of a full  working R/C design using a glow engine and a few months later the Hover Hopper was operational.


 I took the basic seed design concept that I published on my web pages last year from a test bed for hovercraft model builders and developed it into a new model concept. What you will see here was the first outdoor trip for the new model for ‘field’ testing…..and I was not disappointed...this things moves!


The first tests were done in the workshop. Using an 8 inch cooling fan from some scrap piece of electronics I tested the basic chassis and skirt combination. The twin deck concept use in my seed design was develop further to make a completely replaceable skirt assembly. The decking bolts together in a similar way to the seed design but the air ducting and lift assembly has changed. This gives better lift and ground clearance whilst diverting the majority of the air to thrust at the rear of the craft.


I introduced a new concept I have experimented with for many months in the craft, this is variable geometry thrust and lift. This allows the craft, under radio control, to dynamically change the amount of air that goes to thrust and to lift.


How does it fly? …..Its easy...you just have to get used to the lift, rudder and throttle controls all being variable at once and your on your way. Its like flying a Radio Controlled helicopter except the ground is far move forgiving from 2 inches hover height when you misjudge the lift! This is pure hover fun it zips about so fast you have to keep a close eye on it!


“Time to put all the planning 

and design work to the test……….”



The HOVERhopper...all is revealed       


The Hover Hopper is powered by the Glow Engine above - the Revlite 0.061R/C from Norvel -

Alternative engines - Many people have built Hover Hopper's with OS10's and other larger engines. See our Gallery for pictures of a Hover Hopper fitted with an OS32 Model Helicopter engine!




I like to build and test the concept before putting fancy covers and decking on the craft. So here it is with its bag skirt and twin rudders. The radio control receiver is in that front section which will later have windows to make it just like the real thing. There’s a 4.8 volt Nicad battery in there as well as a remote glow starter and micro servo for throttle.


This model features a gas glow engine. Why not electric? I hear a cry….!! Well Batteries are fine...for a few minutes and then its time for charging. This gas engine runs fro 20 mins on one tank and takes a minute or so to re fuel and your away again.





'The Great Glow Engine Debate'


Many people have told me about how unreliable gas or glow engines are in Hovercraft so its best to use batteries and electric motors for lift and thrust. Well it used to happed to me and I have had a long time to think about this one…..I fly Radio Controlled planes and if the engine quits while I’m flying it’s a very bad day! It is so rare that I am tempted to say it doesn’t happed….except when it just runs out of glow fuel. You set up the engine at one end of the season and fly...I never adjust the engine settings I just fly. So how come they quit in hovercraft so much?


Well my SRN 1 model used to do this and now it runs a full tank without a single splutter. The answer was so simple. I though it was because you have to run the engine with the prop facing up...but no that’s not it.


I noticed that when the SRN 1 model was running is engine was caked in dust….ah ha. I made a small mesh filter a put it over the air intake to the carburetor….hey presto it runs and runs.


Hovercraft by their nature kick up dust and some of that was getting into my fuel feed via the carburetor. The answer is a filter on the air intake and they run all day. Its as simple as that ……..Now I know why the fit air filters in Radio Controlled cars!!


Bottom line is you can’t beat a glow engine for a compact source of raw power so if its speed you want then Glow it is. If you want to operate indoors or put your hovercraft on a swimming pool then electric is best.


Fueling up ready to run…..You need an electric starter for the engine as its enclosed in a cowl and you can’t flick the engine over. Here you see a gallon of Omega glow fuel (10% nitro) put in the tank with the electric fuel pump...just because its easy that way! The R/C transmitter and the electric starter….Oh yes and a starter box (Black in the front) which is a little box containing a sealed lead acid battery and power panel supplying the glow plug and the starter motor.


Engine running just trimming out the needle valve setting…..


The skirt starts to fill. In fact there was far more lift than I expected and it was trying to fly away while I was still adjusting it…..that’s when the variable lift came in as I could kill all the lift and trim out the engine with it firmly on the ground.


.......and away she goes!..

With needle valve adjusted and lift adjusted just a touch over initial lift off the new design whizzes away so fast it was difficult to get an action shot!



"How much does it cost to build the HOVERhopper"?

The basic cost of the materials for the structure, decks and skirt is approximately $25. The engine currently is $39. The radio ...well you have a wide range to choose from....anything from $40 to $140 depends on your requirements. The Hover Hopper will work just fine with the $60 radio.




Radio Control Frequencies - does it fly or is it a boat?


Please ensure you use the land model frequencies for you country. That is 75MHz in the USA and 45MHz in the UK. Check you local requirements before buying a radio. NEVER use aircraft Radio Control channels for the Hover Hopper this can cause a plane at your local R/C field to crash and be very dangerous to R/C flyers.


So you want to make a HOVER-hopper ?

I can Guess….You need plans….

They are available on CD ROM by CLICKING HERE


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 January 31, 2016