Introduction: DIY Solar Plane

Picture of DIY Solar Plane

I was looking for my next wood project and saw this short video , love the concept and had to build one...

Also, It was a little challenging to combine a concealed electronic circuit inside the plane body (especially when I'm not an electronics expert).

Hope you will enjoy this as much as I did building it!

Step 1: Inspiration & Design

Picture of Inspiration & Design

This short youtube video was my inspiration, saw it and had to build one of my own.

From here I draw few sketches on A4 paper just to find the shape of the plane,

In order to cut the wood, i needed two pieces of the side view of the plane and two pieces from above of the plane.

Step 2: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials

Tools:

  • Wood trimming tool
  • Chainsaw
  • Drill
  • Drill bits (8mm, 1mm)
  • Sanding machine
  • Soldering iron
  • Cutting knife
  • Screwdriver

Materials:

  • DC motor
  • 2 solar panels
  • Solid wires
  • 2X4 Wood
  • 8mm Wooden stick
  • Wood glue
  • some solder

Step 3: Plane Body

Picture of Plane Body

I glued the plane sketch on the wood than I started trimming the extras.

After this was done, I started to refine the plane body with a sanding machine.

Update:

After I was done, I rethought it and came to a conclusion that it was too squarish....

So I did a second round of trimming to give it a more rounded shape,

To do so I marked the front of the plane with calipers and then I marked the places on the body that were needed to be removed.

After I had it marked, I started trimming slowly piece by piece....

Step 4: Wings

Picture of Wings

I created two similar rectangles for the upper and lower wings, for the back wing I have improvised and cut it by eye.

After I had all the wings, I sanded them, curved the corners that face front, same for the back wing but much more rounded.

I marked the place for the lower wing and cut it so the lower wing will be part of the plane's body.

After that, I glued only the lower and the back wing, as the upper wing will be connected using wood sticks (see connect wings step).

Step 5: Solar Panel and Motor Circuit POC

Picture of Solar Panel and Motor Circuit POC

I had to run a little POC, as I'm not expert in electronics and I don't own a multimeter yet.

I bought 2 solar panels on eBay and a little DC motor, so the POC was to put the whole circuit together and check that the motor runs when there is enough light on the solar panels.

POC steps:

  1. solder wires to the positive and negative of all the components.
  2. connect the two solar panels in series as the circuit power source (positive of panel A to negative of panel B).
  3. connect the power source to the motor
  4. I used desk lamp to generate the electricity
  5. Done, motor runs! :)

After the POC was successful, I trimmed the solar panel wires, so I can fit the panels on the upper wing.

Step 6: Engine and Propeller

Picture of Engine and Propeller

I tried to use the same wood as the plane body with the propeller, but it's too soft.... I ended up braking 2 propellers while making them.

So I decided to go with plywood...

Step 7: Connect the Plane and Wings

Picture of Connect the Plane and Wings

I started with gluing the bottom wing to the plane body

Step 8: Wheels

Picture of Wheels

I took a broomstick and sliced to 1cm pieces, with the 8mm drill I placed a hole in the middle.

I used the same wood stick from the wings, for the wheel's axle.

Now to attach the wheels to the plane's body, I cut a piece of wood rectangle 1cm X 1cm X 2cm, drilled 8mm hole to put the axle through.

Step 9: Paint

Picture of Paint

I used oil paint Red for the body and black for the propeller and wheels.

Step 10: Glue It All Together

Picture of Glue It All Together

Finally, I assembled the electronic circuit on the plane and glued all the parts.

Step 11: Done!

Picture of Done!

If you liked it, don't hesitate to leave a comment or even vote ;)

Y.

Comments

mooshonov (author)2017-10-09

Awesomeness!!!
I'll give it a go!

YaronShemesh (author)mooshonov2017-10-10

Thanks!

Charles Hogan (author)2017-10-03

very cute!

Thank you!

kinte ryder (author)2017-10-01

cool

amackay (author)2017-09-29

It's a really neat idea!

I'm playing with a similar idea myself (in this case a flower pot with a spinning "blossom").

I'm actually using a similar motor (pulled from a old CD ROM Drive) - The big challenge I have is balancing the wooden flower blossom - which is fairly similar to your propeller in that it's made of wood.

Basically, if one end of the wood piece is heavier than the other, the heavy end tends to spin down towards the ground when the motor is not turning. The challenge is that I've found that the motor has trouble starting up when its unbalanced like that (not a whole lot of torque in the motor) - I was wondering if you had a similar challenge (ie, I was wondering if you had any tips/suggestions?) :)

Cheers!

YaronShemesh (author)amackay2017-09-30

Thank you!

i haven't faced the challege you mentioned, but not that you mention this issue, it explains the little vibretions, probably becuse its not perfectly even.

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-09-29

Very cool. Is indoor light enough to make it spin.

Thanks, Indoor light is not strong enough for the panels I choose, I guess bigger ones will do the trick.

About This Instructable

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Bio: Hi, I'm Yaron, A proud father of 2, A software engineer by trade and a creator by DNA. My love for building things started ... More »
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