Picture of Bungee Launcher

This is a how-to on building a Bungee or Highstart Launcher for model gliders: no gas or electric motors are used just a re-usable length of rubber tubing and some fishing line.

And it's very inexpensive too: less than 30 bucks for a small set up.

I use this to launch my six foot wing-span model glider hundreds of feet in the air. This will also work if you have a gas or electric model plane and wish to conserve fuel at takeoff.

The video above gives you an idea of how this works, launch and release of tow line, including shots from the camera I installed on-board giving us a bird's eye view!

But please read all of the instructions before proceeding.

Successfully flying and landing an RC plane is beyond the scope of this instructable, so in the video I thought I would add some more excitement and show what you don't want to CRASH into!   Plus, there's a little how-to on getting your plane out of a tree ;-)

I hope you enjoyed this instructable.  Questions, suggestions and comments are welcome!.
Brett @ SaskView

Step 1: Overview

Picture of Overview
No rocket science here. Basically you are using a very big elastic band and some string to catapult your plane into the air!

50 to 100 feet of rubber tubing is anchored to the ground at one end. A tow line is connected to the free end of the tubing.

At the other end of the tow line, you hook on your plane, start walking backwards stretching out the tubing until there is enough tension for launch.

You then throw you plane into the air, and the high-start rapidly hurls it sky ward. As your plane passes over the anchor point, the tow line slips off of the tow hook and the plane is free to fly on it's own.

matt16065 years ago
 agreed with both of you two. someone really needs to make a banshee bungee and show everyone how to. ive been trying to find bungee but i cant get any anywhere
you can also find the tubing for this on hobbyking.com, $6ish each.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  matt16065 years ago
There's lots of latex tubing available on EBay.
goud5534 years ago
can i buy bungee tubing at my local ace or lowes , homedepot or ANY OTHER tOOLS AND SUPPLIES SHOP OR do i have to go on ebay cuz id like to get my glider fliing like tomarrow
it's a bit late now, but you can use rubber tubing from dive shops, just be prepared, it is EXPENSIVE
Frivolous Engineering (author)  goud5534 years ago
Not that I've seen.
hrheault3 years ago
Where would i best put the hook? The bottom, yes, but if not the bottom, where?

by the way, just in case you are new, the center of gravity should be about 25% back from the leading edge of the wing. that is, one quarter of the way back from the front of the wing to the back of the wing.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  hrheault3 years ago
Bottom is the only place, just in front of the center of gravity on your plane. The CG is the balance point along the fuselage. Any other spot will most likely not work.
lr10cent3 years ago
Another good anchor for a hi start of this size is a large automotive lug wrench. $1 at the junk yard. I'm talking about the kind that has a chisel point at one end and a bend near the other end. The bend allows you to work it back and forth to get it in or out of the ground. It would be better if it was a right angle, but that's not how they're made. Even with the angle it has, you can still pound it in if the ground is frozen, depending on how wet it was when it froze. We have some soft, wet ground at one end of our field, but this stake still works fine, even when it's thawed, with the 3/8" OD tubing I use.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  lr10cent3 years ago
Good tip.

The thing to keep in mind is you want the anchor firmly embedded when using the launcher. If the anchor pulls free while you are stretching out the bungee it could cause injury.
black427993 years ago
THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS, I really like the spool idea to keep it all from getting tangled up, NICE JOB AND THANK YOU.
UATradition3 years ago
That's the glider that I started my r/c life with about 14 years ago - The Gentle Lady !
Well chosen name too: slow, easy to fly, loves trees...
01glide3 years ago
What year is that transmitter? It's got to be at least 25 years old.

I'm missing something here. This high-start system has been on the market even longer. When I built my first plane in the 80s, the same Gentle Lady, the high-start system sold for about $30. It included everything needed to launch right away: the surgical tubing, non-stretch line, metal rings, parachute, reel, spike (for wood fence posts), and a clamp (for any surface: metal post, fence, tailgate, etc).

I guess the new thing could be the dog anchor.

Here's a link for the current kit.
kit http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?Q=1&I=LXYXK4&P=N
Frivolous Engineering (author)  01glide3 years ago
Who said this was new? I never said in the instructable that I invented this. I suppose I should have mentioned that it's been around as long as model airplanes.

Sure, you can go out and buy a ready made high-start, or you can build one from scratch like I did.

As far as I know, this is the only instructable on High-starts and that's why I uploaded it.

goofy1029385 years ago
the camera shots from the plane are amazing
such a good plan
How many paces do you usually put on it before launch?
Never really measured it, but I'm guessing 60-80 feet.  The important thing to keep in mind is not how far you back up, but how much tension the bungee is applying to the glider.  Stretch the bungee back until the desired amount of pull is reached.

For my glider, I launch it using about 8-10 pounds of pull.  Step 3 talks about this.  How much pull YOU use will depend on the size, weight, and type of plane.

When starting out, you can use an angler's fish-scale to get an idea of how much stretch is needed.  Once you get a feel for things the scale isn't needed.
huntjulien5 years ago
were  do you live.??? im a saskatooner...
Me also from Saskatoon, but originally from Assiniboia.
Regina!  Small world, huh?
guess so... hope to see you flying sum time...
kicker1096 years ago
thats a fair sick glider! you should make it an R/C (unless it already is). it would be so much more easyer than a discus or throw start. good job.
Thanks! It's RC but the way I fly you wouldn't know it.
cool!6 years ago
My RC attempts are failing :) Nice instructable
Frivolous Engineering (author)  cool!6 years ago
Thanks Cool! That's why I originally got a cheap tiny camera to put in my plane. I was having so many crashes I figured it would be one or two more flights before I totalled it, so why not get some cool footage. That was more than two years ago. Other than landing in trees, it seems to have changed my luck. One thing that really did help was www.flying-model-simulator.com I practiced on the sim until I wasn't having any virtual crashes. I highly recommend using this free program and a 5$ USB game pad or compatible transmitter.
Im having tech problems right now.
I should really try gliding, but takes too much space for me
right now im flying electric, but either the ESC or motor is broken.
I have a nice durable foamy right now, really easy to repair from my many crashes.
Once I broke the Fuse in half, repaired in 5 with hot glue :)
Here is the model:
Ps Devon from BlackDogRC is really nice.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  cool!6 years ago
Cool,.. cool!
Opcom6 years ago
That's one of the coolest things I've seen in a while!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  Opcom6 years ago
Thanks! Exactly what I thought when I first saw a highstart launch.
mweston6 years ago
Wow, I have never seen anyone launch a glider like this. Me and my dad have been flying planes and gliders for a few years and this is much different - I like the idea a lot! I never saw a full picture of the plane, so I don't know if it has servo controls (I know the idea is green and no battery power though) but that would be a heck of a lot of fun. Keep up the good work
Frivolous Engineering (author)  mweston6 years ago
Thanks msweston! Of course the receiver and transmitter use rechargeable batteries. There are two servos to control the elevator and rudder. I've added step 9 to this instructable showing the glider and a short video of it. Check out the League of Silent Flight: www.silentflight.org for more info on high-start and other cool green ways to soar. Catching a thermal updraft with your glider will get you hooked on this unique sport.
Cool, love the idea - might go try it on a smaller scale this weekend if its not too windy
maxpower496 years ago
did you make the plane or did you buy it either way i would like either a site or instructions
I built the glider from a kit. It's from Carl Goldberg Products Ltd and the model is called Gentle Lady. You can also get it "Almost Ready to Fly" too. www.carlgoldbergproducts.com
very cool - loved the camera view from the plane!
LUCCHINA6 years ago
That's very smart!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  LUCCHINA6 years ago
Thanks, but you're too kind! I learned this from The League of Silent Flight, they're the smart ones...
Euphy6 years ago
This is a great project, the film is ace!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  Euphy6 years ago
Just checked out Recycled Cardboard Lamp. Very creative, sir!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  Euphy6 years ago
Thanx Euphy!
wibrle6 years ago
Cool tutorial. Your doing a hobby that looks fun, and is "green". 5 stars from me. :D
Frivolous Engineering (author)  wibrle6 years ago
Thanks! Your instructable Hand Of Fire is great.
gagfilms6 years ago
This is such a great tutorial!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  gagfilms6 years ago
Thanx! Luv your instructable: How to Hack Everything.
danielemur6 years ago
no offense, but you do realise thats not rc right.
Yes, the question below is off topic, but I thought it was pretty cool that they are selling human slingshots now!
rc is remote control and you can see in the video that he has a remote control
Swarm2006 years ago
you used this material before do thing i could use multiple cords to make a banshee bungee launch system for, skating...youtube or google it?
Frivolous Engineering (author)  Swarm2006 years ago
Great question, Swarm200! I just googled Banshee Bungee: I hadn't heard of it till now. Looks like it would be a real blast.

It also looks like it could be very dangerous so I caution anyone who is thinking of doing this to be very careful! Here’s what one blogger posted:

I could think of about 20 horrible scenarios right off the top of my head that would devestate you and your family for years (i.e. less than solid anchor comes flying at your face at 30 MPH or you "bungee" yourself right into a sturdy object, say a wall or tree).

That being said…

Looking at the pics and vids I would have to say it would be possible. It looks like they are using 3 lengths of 1/2 inch (or maybe larger) tubing that is braided together.

With the tubing I use (3/8 inch) it can produce 15 pounds of pull. If you were to use 3 lengths and braided them like a Banshee you should get at least 45 pounds of pull. I would think that this would work.

If there is an instructable member who has a Banshee or has built one please let us know what diameter and length of tubing they are using. Or better yet, make an banshee bungee instructable!
I once read a thing about some daredevils going on a high building Having a winch and tying some big Bungee cord And a man to a rope With a harness and Pulled the bungee rope So far back so there was loads of tension on the winch And they then kicked the winch forward apparently he flew Very far lol A plane could be good doing that with a min cam in
It's true, they call it a reverse bungee jump. There are amusement rides where they strap you in a cage and you fly upwards but aren't launched in the air, just fall back and the rest is like a normal bungee jump. But like you say, some crazy stuntmen have built huge sling-shots using bungee cord to launch themselves in the air, usually landing in water...
yeah i know the amusement ones I've seen them on blackpool pier (Search it in google if ur A American)
Howie_D6 years ago
Saskview that is one awesome video. Great capture man! One of my fav's.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  Howie_D6 years ago
rc jedi6 years ago
Also called a highstart or upstart. There are also electric winches too. those give ya' more control. If ya' get into trouble on the launch. you can stop the tow. A bungee has gotta ride it out. cool video!
Frivolous Engineering (author)  rc jedi6 years ago
Thanks, RC! Yep, highstart launches aren't for beginners or the faint of heart...
Unless you had one channel on your receiver set to fire a solenoid that would disconnect the tow line from the stake..? It's not perfect but it might save some horrible crashes you would otherwise just cringe and have to watch happen.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  PKM6 years ago
Great thinking PKM: some model gliders don't use a tow hook, they have a tow line release controlled by a servo. This type of set up is used when having a powered model plane tow the glider up, just like they do in full sized gliders. And you're right, with a release mech you'd have a better chance of recovering from a launch gone wrong.
lil jon1686 years ago
that was so freakin cool
wee_man6 years ago
nice i like the camera how much did it cost you?
Frivolous Engineering (author)  wee_man6 years ago
On sale when it first came out last June(ish) for $140 at Canadian tire.
logandr6 years ago
Cool video! what kind of camera did you use? Is it recording on-board or is the signal transmitted to the ground?
Frivolous Engineering (author)  logandr6 years ago
Thanx! It's a Jazz HDV178: about the size of a deck of playing cards and records to an SD Card. And even does HD. Great little camera considering how little it cost.
wibrle6 years ago
Thats pretty smart. I wouldn't have thought to do it that way.
Frivolous Engineering (author)  wibrle6 years ago
I didn't come up with this: it's been done for years. Just passing it along...
Bongmaster6 years ago
nice :)
gagfilms6 years ago
Very cool!
greeenpro6 years ago
Great ible....very impressive!!