Hovercraft Challenge 1.0


Design a Hovercraft that can travel down a straight track the fastest

Performance Measurement: 

Time (Seconds)

Relevant STEM Principles:

HC Parts DefinedForces, thrust, air pressure, lift, and stability

Design Variables:
  1. Base Port diameter (Lift/Hover Control)
  2. Width of Triangle (Thrust Port)
  3. Number of Triangles (Stability & Thrust Control)
  4. Angle of Triangles (Stability Control)

HC Control Cylinder Parameters

Design Considerations

  • Hover/Lift
    • Increasing Base Port dia. increases lift
    • Increasing lift reduces how much thrust can be generated
  • Thrust
    • Increasing Triangle Width and No. of Triangles will increase thrust
    • Increasing thrust reduces amount of lift available
    • Minimizing  rotation angles will maximize thrust
  • Stability
    • A stable Hovercraft will travel down a path with less influence from outside forces
    • More triangles increase stability
    • Increasing rotation angle can increase stability

HC Forces Diagram

The Process

Design > Build > Test > Repeat until optimized
Design Your Solution:
  • Evaluate sample control cylinders when available to understand which parameters perform better
  • Check the leader board for past attempts to see if previous parameter attempts are available
  • Find a mentor to help you better understand how the variables interact
  • Using the free modeling tool, find it here, change the control cylinder parameters to
Build Your Design:
  • Download the STL file for your design attempt
  • Find a 3D printing source to print your STL file
Test Your 3D Printed Design:
  • Place your finished 3D printed part onto the test stand
  • Measure your results and have them uploaded to the leader board by the event coordinator

Challenge Types

Limited Challenge: Design variables are constrained to print and desktop printers without support material in 15 minutes or less. Use the free modeling tool provided here.

Unlimited Challenge: Optimize your design by integrating parts and creating better thrust ports. But your design must still interface with standard CD and 9″ latex balloon.


Test Stands

To understand how your design assumptions performed, you will need to “build it” then “test it”. Your test results will help you determine how to adjust your design assumptions to improve your design.

Test Stand Options
  • Build Your Own
  • Kits
  • Ready To Go

3D Printers

Our Limited challenges are designed to be compatible with most desktop printers.

  • Free Online modeler provides STL print files
  • Designed will print in 15 minutes or less
  • Material usage is minimal
Finding 3D Printing Resources
  • In Your Community
  • 3D Printer Resellers
Get Your Own 3D Printer
  • If you are a regular player, having your own 3D Printer is a great next step


As the Challenges evolve, we want to provide a space for players and mentors to collaborate on designs and concepts.

A Mentor Forum is…..


We appreciate your patience while we get this online!