Introduction: Altoids Danger Demolition Racer

Picture of Altoids Danger Demolition Racer

Altoids Danger Demolition Racer screams 20 feet or more across the floor with rubber band power. Knock down card houses or K'nex robots.

Step 1: Prep the Can

Picture of Prep the Can

The Altoids tin is strong and light and makes a good chassis for this air car.

You will need a balsa wood rubber band airplane - the kind with the red propeller is best:
Guillow Sky Streak

You can buy these at most toy shops, hobby shops, discount stores, or drugstores for a dollar or so.

But you probably have a broken one already at home !

Hold the Altoids tin on the airplane's body and mark the tin at the center of the motor hook.

Do this on both ends of the Altoids tin.

Step 2: Punch Holes

Picture of Punch Holes

Use a standard paper punch.

Punch a hole at each end of the can.

The hole should be centered on the marks you made in the last step.

Step 3: Bend Paper Clips

Picture of Bend Paper Clips

You will need 4 large wire paper clips like the blue clip in the picture.

Bend all four of them open so they look like the yellow clip in the photo.

Bend two of them so they look like the red clip.

These two red clips will be the front wheel struts.

Step 4: Attach Wheel Struts

Picture of Attach Wheel Struts

Duct tape the two wheel struts to the Altoids tin bottom.

Use beads or plastic bottle caps for wheels (see intro photo).

Milk jug caps work great. Just poke a hole in the center with a small nail or awl.

Bend the wires to hold the wheels in place.

Step 5: New Engine Mount

Picture of New Engine Mount

Now you will make a replacement engine mount. Normally the propeller holder fits on to the end of the airplane body.

If you want to save the airplane stick and not have to cut off a section, you can use a paper clip to hold the propeller in place.

Gently squeeze the small loop on the paper clip with pliers.

This is so the loop will fit in the grooves on the propeller holder.

If your propeller holder does not have notches, you can use a 2 inch piece of the original balsa airplane body, or popsicle sticks, to attach it to the Altoids tin.

Step 6: Attach Prop

Picture of Attach Prop

Angle the propeller hook through the punched hole in the Altoids tin.

Fit the squeezed paper clip into the grooves on the propeller holder.

Duct tape the propeller holder and paper clip to the bottom of the Altoids can.

Bend the front wheel struts up.

Step 7: Attach Back Strut

Picture of Attach Back Strut

Angle the small loop of an open paper clip through the hole in the back of the Altoids tin.

Loop the rubber band through the clip and the propeller hook.

Pull the paper clip back to fit tightly in the hole.

Duct tape the paper clip to the Altoids can.

Bend the paper clip to make the rear wheel strut.

Step 8: Zoom !

Picture of Zoom !
Close the lid.

Wind the propeller clockwise as you look at it from the front.

Start with 50 winds.

Hold the Altoids tin on the floor while also holding the propeller.

Let go of the propeller first, once it is whizzing, let go of the tin.

It should go screaming 20 feet or more across the floor.

  • Bend the wheel struts until the beads roll smoothly
  • For bottle cap wheels, use tiny beads as washers
  • Try different size rubber bands
  • Do not use near pets
  • Works best on smooth floors
  • Experiment with a cardboard rudder for curved runs


Fikjast Scott (author)2015-02-07

this is so cool, what a great idea, thanks for posting

pieman12 (author)2010-03-17

i made one of theese and it allways goes in a question mark pattern. plz help

007dna (author)pieman122010-11-29

Try bending the wheels to correct the path....?

iectyx3c (author)007dna2010-11-29

I agree with 007, try bending the wires.

Are you using beads or wheels, I wonder?

Beads work well because they do not wobble like a wheel. And if they do not turn evenly, it does not matter, because they slide smoothly

In fact you can build the propeller-car without any wheels or beads and it will still work on a flat, smooth floor, using the paper clips as skids.

neverdrinkoliveoil (author)2009-07-24

Very nice! I happened to have a small motor and made a motor-powered car based upon your design.

Dante9030 (author)2009-07-12

i would build but i dont feel like buyin some altoids

mohnish (author)Dante90302009-07-18

i already hav it

mohnish (author)mohnish2009-07-18


corey11 (author)2009-07-17

Does it actually fly? I think it will be to heavy

freed217 (author)2009-06-01

ya add the wings that came from the air plane kit. the wings r light weiht and long

TyMan210 (author)2009-05-21

When i make it i'm going to add wings.

thing 2 (author)2009-05-21

this is cool nice work!!! :-) now go have some coffae (kof-ay) ~D|

iSmack (author)2009-05-06

I'm definitely doing this next time I go pickup some stuff at Walgreens :P

Speedmite (author)2009-04-29

Easy, simple, new creative twist on old rubber band stuff. I like.

kuhldad (author)2009-04-22

Wow! Your simple design overcame our biggest challenge, the pull of the rubber band displacing the propeller support. I didn't know about Instructables back when we built our propeller car or we would have done some things differently. Thanks for the posting.

iectyx3c (author)kuhldad2009-04-23

Thanks - your propeller car looks like it works great. Why not build both and race 'em? I use Altoids tins because they are light and strong. And paper clips so I would not have to break my rubber band plane stick.

kuhldad (author)iectyx3c2009-04-23

I'll have to give that a try and post the video results! That is if I haven't used all my Altoids tins for geocaching. v/r Kuhldad

highwingpilot (author)2009-04-23

This looks great! Does it tend to turn to left due to p-factor (greater lift on right down-stroke blade from higher angle of attack)? I guess you could also make it turn by bending it's "landing gear". Thanks for posting. This will make a great Cub Scouts project!

iectyx3c (author)highwingpilot2009-04-23

The P-factor is certainly an issue. But luckily the gyroscopic force of the Cub Scout beads used for wheels tends to overcome it ;)

leave_it_to_psmith (author)2009-04-23

Extremely cool!

DotatDabbled (author)2009-04-20

this is way cool! altoids and duct tape.. what's not to love!?

TRL1087 (author)2009-04-10

This is great! The construction is simple, and the parts are common (that's a biggie). I might suggest a more aerodynamic body, just to increase speed and distance. Great Job!

iectyx3c (author)TRL10872009-04-13

You are so right. I thought of making light cardboard or card stock fairings to streamline it and I bet it would go faster and further just like you say. The Altoids tin is super light and very rigid which is essential for a good sturdy frame. If you build it, you'll be amazed at how fast it goes. Experimenting a bit, I learned that the red caps from milk jugs look very cool and make it go faster than the beads shown here.

hg341 (author)2009-04-07

nice how far will it go?
the first pic look really good

iectyx3c (author)hg3412009-04-07

Thanks - it goes at least 20 feet at full speed - then since the propeller is free-wheeling it might roll on even further. It depends a lot on the wheels and how smooth the floor is too.

hg341 (author)iectyx3c2009-04-08

cool i might do this

budsiskos (author)2009-04-07

i made an electric version of this about 2 years ago. i was waiting for someone else to do somthing like it.

iectyx3c (author)budsiskos2009-04-08

Your electric ornithopter 'ible is tremendous ! An electric Altoids Air Car would be cool, hope you will post a link here.

lemonie (author)2009-04-07

Any chance of a video? (looks powerful!) L

iectyx3c (author)lemonie2009-04-07
  • Yes you are right, the Altoids Air Car sure is powerful
  • I wish I could post a video.
  • It just blazes straight down the hallway like a rocket.
  • Great for hall racing at school BTW (get the science teacher to sponsor you)
lemonie (author)iectyx3c2009-04-07

I must have a go at something like this - I have enough elastic-bands... L

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