I have always loved the Marvel character Archangel. When my brother, (Shameless plug alert) budding comic book artist David Fernandez, showed me pics of a cosplay convention he went to I thought "wouldn't it be awesome if someone made life-size archangel wings?".

The idea sank into the depths of my mind and had a death grip on my brain. I searched around to see if anyone had attempted it before and all I found were a few guys that made wings out of cardboard, while some went far enough to use aluminum foil. Someone had to do justice to the character! Someone had to MAKE IT REAL! So, I took it upon myself to do so. 

In order to make them to scale but not too heavy to move around, I made them from 7075 aircraft grade aluminum sheets that were 1/32" thin. I have to say, that stuff is awesome. It's a bit pricey, but so strong and resistant to deformation is unbelievable.

I didnt want the wings to just be static or flop around on my back, so I decided to add in some gizmos to make them move. I wired up some gloves with push-button switches in the fingertips that controlled 4 continuous rotation servos which would in turn wind up a high strength fishing line to pull the wings closed. To open them back again, the wing panels were connected with spring hinges.

This is my first Instructable, so please forgive me if I dont have super detailed photos of every step. If anything is unclear just ask. Also, I'm pretty new to the maker scene so these wings were built entirely at my home where I have no shop or the tools found therein, just a dremel and a basic power drill. In hindsight, there are at least 972 things I'd do differently if I could go back. I dont claim that anything here is the best way to do it, its just the way I did it. With that said, I'd love to hear what you all think! As there are a lot of details in this project, I'll assume for this instructable that I dont need to be super explicit about things like stripping wires, soldering, connecting the arduino to a computer, etc.

More documentation and photos of the actual build process can be found here on my blog: http://adielfernandez.blogspot.com/

Finally, here's a video of them working. This was taken before they got the last bit of polish and detailing they have in the photo above.

Step 1: Materials

With a few exceptions, most of this stuff is pretty run of the mill Home Depot faire. Although I don't think anyone would actually try to recreate these (you'd have to be as crazy about the project as I was and I was probably certifiable), I tried to be as complete as I could be, sparing a few details, on the materials list. There are comments throughout, so feel free to just skim it or read in depth if you're curious.

Arduino - used an Arduino Uno for prototyping and getting everything dialed in, then I moved it over to the Arduino Pro Mini to make it all sexypants.
Breadboard for prototyping
Perfboard for making it more permanent
Soldering Iron
Resistors - 8 x 10K ohm
Toggle switch
Thin gauge wire - In many instances I used very thin gauge enameled magnet wire. Do NOT do this. I was seduced by how low profile it was and foolishly ignored how easily it fatigues and breaks. Save yourself a lot of headache and get some nice thin, stranded 26+ gauge wire for all of the applications in this project.
Wire strippers
Wire cutters
Generic "Project Enclosure" box from radio shack
4 x AA battery holder from radio shack
4 Continuous Rotation Servos - I used these, the largest ones SparkFun had to offer because they were easy to get and had a decent amount of torque.
JST Jumper wire assemblies - I used four 3 wire jumpers and 2 5 wire jumpers like these.
Breakaway headers - Straight and 90 degree

Aluminum sheet - Like I said, I used aircraft grade 7075 aluminum I got from OnineMetals.com. Despite having a 10+ ft wing span, the wings way under 20 lbs. I dont think they would have been as light and durable with regular 6061 aluminum. It took me about four 3ft x 4ft sheets of the metal.
Aluminum L channel - About 6 feet or so to use as support to keep certain wing panels from flexing.
Dremel rotary tool - Dont get the cordless one. It runs out of juice in minutes there is a LOT of cutting to do. I tried using other tools like a nibbler (shears designed to minimize distortion when you cut), but the 7075 Aluminum is just too damn hard.
Fiber-reinforced cutting wheels for Dremel - The 7075 Aluminum eats through cutting wheels like you're cutting with kraft singles, other cutting wheels would be useless. Maybe the dremel metal wheel would have been better or a band saw, but I dont know how those things handle metals, particularly hard 7075. Feel free to comment if you know.
Diamond tipped bit for Dremel - I used it to etch the patterns in the wings. It... took... forever. I wouldnt wish it on anyone, but the effect afterwards was worth it.
Spring Hinges - I used ones I bought from McMaster-Carr. It was tricky to get the ones that were strong enough. In the end I think I could have gone with bigger stronger springs, but those would have probably begged for stronger servos too which get very pricey very fast. Go to their site and search for 1613A4 to get the same ones I used.
Regular springs - got a few at Home Depot, I think they were somewhere around 3-4 pounds of pull force
Power Drill
Drill Bits - assorted sizes
Sand Paper  and sponge mop - 100 grit paper puts a really nice brushed finish in the aluminum. You can wrap the sandpaper around a sponge mop and brush the aluminum sheets while on the floor to get nice, long, even strokes that leave a great brushed finish.
Sanding sponge - It helps to do some of the finer work without the sponge mop
Aluminum Backplate with Harness - Scuba divers use them to attach air tanks to their backs, this is what the wings actually attach to. I bought one from eBay (just search "aluminum backplate harness") for cheaper than they're usually found, but here's an example of another you could use.
High strength fishing line - I bought 50 lb test. I dont think there is anywhere near that much force on the line but its always nice to eliminate room for failure. To be honest, the knot you tie might have more of an effect on the project than the line you use.
Hot Glue Gun - A true godsend
Miscellaneous Fastening Hardware - By the end, I made about a dozen runs to home depot to get the right hardware to hold it all together. Sadly I didn't document the sizes of all my hardware, but if I recall correctly, its something like 50+ #4 philips head nuts and bolts (1/2" long), 12-15 # 6 nuts and bolts (1 1/2" long) and 4 eye screws with nuts and loads of #4 split lock washers.
Pencils, sharpies, rulers, scissors, etc...
Safety glasses and Ear plugs - Cutting sheet metal with a rotary tool can get a little loud and debris may fly

Scanner and Projector - These aren't really critical, but I used these to blow up the small scale model wings I made up to the full 12 foot wingspan patterns. I'm sure there are other ways.
Photo Reference - I used an amazing statue made by artist Mark Newman for Bowen Designs as a reference (photo posted in Step 2). However, I couldn't get my hands on one so I had to eyeball the wings, make a scale paper model of them then blow it up to actual size. I couldn't make them 100% to scale or I wouldn't have been able to move or walk in them.
Large pieces of cardboard/butcher paper - These were helpful for making templates of the wing shapes to use later on.
This is what I'm building for comic con
<p>This must have been fun to make! Congrats on all of the medals!</p>
Do you recall how thick the aluminum sheets were?
can them fly ??
<p>you should make a video of it</p>
<p>You're the man, this is one of the coolest things I've ever seen</p>
This, dear sir, is truly the pinnacle of perfection and mastery. I cannot congratulate you enough on these and I cannot thank you enough on the instructions to make these! I will most definitely be trying to recreate a pair of my own, however I might need to find a bit of help to work with the Arduino. I would greatly appreciate if we could exchange emails so that you could monitor my process. Once again, true talent.
This is pretty amazing...any plans to do the (classic) purple-and-blue suit from the Fall of the Mutants storyline? http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/3209_4_0024.jpg
VERY cool wings! I could see someone modifying this to go with a steampunk costume. I hope you dulled the edges so they aren't sharp!
Steampunk. Awsome idea. It would be perfect!
AMAZING!!!!! Well done :0)
In a future build you might look at either carbon fiber tube or fiberglass tent poles. Then stretch a silver Mylar blanket over it. Serious weight reduction.
Not one of my fav xmen. That being said... <br>Frelling AWSOME!!!! :) <br>'Nuf said.
If your etched lines are basically straight, you could also have used a &quot;carbide tipped laminate scoring knife&quot; (Google it) and a straight edge. Cuts a small, clean groove depending on how hard you apply pressure (and how many passes you make, if you want it deeper)
congrats on the arduino challenge
Is this the 5V Arduino Pro Mini?<br><br>Also, could I get a picture of the back of your protoboard so I can see how you soldered all the connections together.
Very interesting. If you doubled the wingspan and maybe cut out some of the extra weight, and put it on a relatively light person, it would be enough for flight, at least for shirt periods of time. The only problem is support then, but I think that would be solved by thick wire armatures.
So you just wear the harness and all on the outside of your clothes, or is there some clever trickery here?
Nope, no trickery. Just a black harness that camouflages with the black vest :)
Is there a way to hide the harness under the clothes and still have the wings move?
This is realllly cool. How much did this cost you?
WAAAAAY more than I thought it would, lol. The raw sheet metal alone was almost $300. With all the other components, hardware and miscellaneous items Im sure it was close to $700-800 over the course of about 8 months.
I saw you with the wings in person at the 2011 Maker Faire . Very awesome indeed.
Very cool!! It also makes me remember that old cartoon, The Batfink!! I am thinking about to make the wings to Halloween Party at my college. Great job!
Bloody awesome!
I bow to the awesomeness. I remember the issue that Archangel came to be and instantly thought that was the most awesome comic character ever... still do.<br>If I could pull of spandex id make 2 sets of these one full set like this and a stubby set (the completely folded up version).
Warren Worthington III would be proud. :D<br><br>Really nice job and I'm jealous.<br>
Pretty cool!!
I have used Future floor polish as a protective coating on models and on Aluminum. I think it could work to protect the wings but it would give it a gloss coat and you can use a flat paint (acyric) in the future to make it more flat if desired. You did a great job and I hope this might work. You could try it on a small test piece of aluminum to determine if it would work for you. You can airbrush the Future without thinning but clean with windex after you spray because it will clog up the airbrush.
Well done sir. This is amazing.<br>
WAY awesome. And I love that you used mostly Stuff That Is Lying Around Home Depot.
Sorry for a dumb question, but do you really always need the arduino board to be able to construct prototypes? or can the software be used to program a custom circuit?<br><br>I'm new with this arduino thing.
Hey,<br><br>Its not a dumb question, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I'll try and answer it best I can (I'm a novice too!).<br><br>The arduino just makes it easy to go from idea to working prototype, particularly the Uno because it has the headers that allow you to just plug wires into each of the pins quickly without soldering anything. <br><br>If you are more experienced with circuit building and fabrication, you can potentially use the same microchip that the arduino uses (usually the atmega328 - they sell it by itself with the arduino program or &quot;bootloader&quot; on it already, its only like 3 bucks) and integrate it into your own custom circuit board. <br><br>I'm not that experienced so I tend to go from using the Uno to something more sleek and permanent like the Arduino Pro Mini. I hope this answered your question. <br><br>I'm sure someone else more experience than me can chime in :)
As a fellow Archangel fan, I have to say this is pretty amazing. Good job!
my little brother wants to know if u can fly with those......
Not quite, lol
oh, hes dissapointed now...... hes only 4
if only we could fly with thought then we would enter a knew renaissance of technology (fruck)
I'll never make this, but I definitely want to now. That is awesome.
Pretty cool indeed!
that is really cool, nice instructable

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a full time student at Parsons, The New School for Design in the Design and Technology department with a huge appreciation for physical ... More »
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