Introduction: How to Build Pneumatic Costume Wings

Picture of How to Build Pneumatic Costume Wings

Hallowe'en is a passion of mine and for this time around I wanted something really neat, so I started thinking about trying to make some wings.

Much Googling later and I came to the conclusion there wasn't much out there. There were a few pictures of simple single-hinge wings but those weren't very impressive to me, and the professional version was well over a thousand dollars and not what I was trying for anyway.

Since there weren't many how-tos out there, and since nobody had really done what I wanted to do in an affordable (mostly) way, I tried to take some pictures and help others who want to build wings that open and close without manually pulling strings.

Steampunk Hawkman is the result. This is a tutorial on building his wings (V1.0).

Step 1: Planning

Picture of Planning

I spent a lot of time googling and attempting to find people who had done it before, and most were simple single-hinge angel-wing style costume wings. That's okay, but it means you're limited in size since they don't fold down very well and are limited to your own height. A proper bird or bat-style folding ought to be better.

They're fairly similar, although skeletally they're a bit different, so I chose bird, just because there's more of them out there.

This diagram shows a greatly simplified way of creating the parallelogram that does the work. When the base of the wing is attached at the ends, moving any of the members should cause the wing to fold and unfold.

Originally, due to all the manual wings I saw, I thought only about pulling or pushing on the attached ends, but once built, it became clear that any change to one of the angles affects all the rest. That opens up a lot of ways to cause the folding motion.

Step 2: Prototype

Picture of Prototype

Design is great, but I was mostly on my own here, so I determined to see if this was possible. I grabbed a piece of plywood, and a bunch of flat trim from Home Depot. This trim is a few dollars for 12+ foot lengths and light.

If I could make something neat out of 12 dollars worth of trim, I knew I'd be onto something.

I used a 1-foot to 1-square conversion and cut the lengths, then I drilled the holes and threaded a bunch of nuts and bolts I'd picked up at Home Depot as well.

Holding it to my back with the wings outstretched it becomes clear that the first measurements I guesstimated would do just fine.

Since then I've played with different lengths and the 2:3:4 range seems to provide the best bang for the buck to begin with. It provided about 8 feet in width and height, fitting into most rooms.

Step 3: Materials

Picture of Materials

So I wanted these wings to be reasonably portable, as light as possible, and to be able to get them off and on quickly (Halloween is COLD up here and you don't want to be outside after a party trying to get the pieces off). I needed to make the wings into a backpack.

I decided on re-using a backpack I had lying around. Due to the size I wanted, I chose a backpack with a waist strap. A good strong strap to secure the arm straps together will also help with being able to raise your arms. If the straps are pulling back against your shoulders, your range of motion will be greatly limited, although not enough to cause problems.

To this backpack, you wilI need to add a baseplate for bolting on the wings and hardware. A piece of 2 foot by 1 foot plywood seemed to do the trick for me. You can then trim it down to get rid of excess wood later.

You will need nuts and bolts. I used 1/4" bolts for mounting the wings themselves and the pistons, since they take a lot of stress. For hinging, you can use a smaller bolt. For the pistons, you need 4" bolts.

4 1/4" wide by 4" long bolts with nuts for the pistons.
7 1/4" wide by 2.5" long bolts for attaching the wings and backpack
10 smaller bolts, still 2.5" long for wing pivots

14 metal washers, at least 1.5".
50 pack of smaller washers (although the bigger ones will work fine, you just need these for the wing pivots. Your mileage may vary, but if you don't have a drill press, I recommend using washers wherever possible)

The wings will be made of square aluminum tube. This will make it easier to drill holes through nicely. Using 1-foot per square in the diagram, I bought about 60 dollars worth of tubing.

In my area we have a store called Princess Auto. It's basically a huge cheap hardware/surplus store. I understand  a place called Harbor Freight also serves this purpose. From here I picked up the pneumatic tubing, push-on connected, the pistons, and a pneumatic switch. I bought a 5-way 3-position switch. 3-position is the important part. It allows air to move in both directions AND has a neutral position. This allows you to switch off the air. That can be handy when you first start playing with air power. I have since changed to a 2-position switch, but one must be careful when pressurizing a system like that, since it could open or close if it's been messed with between pressurizations. In practice this didn't happen once we were used to playing with air, but it's good to keep in mind.

Speed limiters are NOT NEGOTIABLE. This is your obligatory safety warning. The wings don't weigh much, but they could whack someone, and you don't want to Be That Guy. Start with slow, work your way faster slowly.

These pistons are available in many sizes, but I chose a 4-inch throw. They were under 20 dollars each. 100 feet of tube was about 10 dollars, and the fittings for connecting everything (splitters, speed limiters, etc) were about 2-4 dollars each.

Power was the last piece of the puzzle. I originally planned to buy a linear actuator (a sort of electrical piston, if you like), but they were very expensive. However, the air-powered ones were quite affordable, so I quickly hit on those, but wasn't sure how I was going to power them. Googling for portable air tools brought me to Liquid CO2.

Liquid CO2 is very high pressure, but the kit-level hose and fittings weren't going to handle those pressures. I needed a regulator.

Enter the Jacpac. It turns out that this is a CO2-based air tool pressurizing system that allows you to use air tools without being attached to a compressor. It's a professionally built (and I've been using it for tools as well) regulator that puts out exactly the pressure you need to do reasonable work with air. This piece of equipment goes on sale for 70 dollars, but is normally about 100. All this stuff is available in pieces but since I wasn't an expert, I went with the pre-built solution for this, and I've had it for 2 years now and it's a great piece of kit.

CO2 tanks and refills are quite affordable and easy to find at paintball supply stores. I bought a spare but the rig comes with a 9oz tank. That's good enough in a perfect world for 2 full nights out at least. I picked up a 20oz tank which has become my main tank since then, but during testing, I got 88 opens and closes out of the 9oz tank so it should be quite useful.

Step 4: Make the Wings

Picture of Make the Wings

So with my 1-square to 1 foot ratio, I cut the pieces with a hacksaw. Aluminum is pretty easy to cut this way. To make the hinge holes 'correctly' you want to use a drill press so everything is a perfect 90-degree angle and all the holes fit nicely.

But what I HAD was a drill. So I carefully employed the old Mark I eyeball, and did the best I could. Just mark off with a sharpie and make your holes as perfectly vertical as you can. It can be a good idea to pick up a metal file to take any sharp bits down. Nobody touched the wings, but you never know.

To prevent a lot of the trouble associated with imperfectly vertical drilling, I put a washer in between each member when I bolted them together.

(Important note: I used steel nuts and bolts. Steel and aluminum will corrode if kept in contact with each other due to their 'galvanic number'. In practice, this probably won't affect a normal hallowe'en-only usage for several years, if at all)

Once the holes were drilled, I had two 'wings' that would fold and unfold.

Step 5: Make the Backplate

Picture of Make the Backplate

Cut the back off the backpack.

There are basically 3 attachment points to worry about so it's stable.

Left and right, so the wings don't just rotate around you when you move, and one at the bottom to keep them in the same plane as you are. This way they won't open and then flop forward over you. Higher wings look cooler, lower wings are more stable. Note in the first picture, they ended up being just below my shoulder blades. I would have liked them a bit higher and did that in my next version.

I use an awl to make holes in fabric rather than drilling through it. Be sure to use the widest washers you can, on both sides. You REALLY want to get these tight, and the more surface area you have when you're pinching a washer down onto the backpack material, the more secure it will be. No washer means it'll rip as it rubs against the threads on the bolts.

If you look carefully you can see where I originally had 2 holes at the bottom. This was overkill, and cutting away as much of the heavy wood as possible was much more important in the long run. This is the general shape you're looking for though. Later you can cut away more if you like.

Put it on. Wear it a bit. Get used to it, you'll have it on for a while and you need it to be comfy.

Now take it apart but place the hardware aside in a place you can find it, you'll be putting it back on soon.

Step 6: Mount the Wings.

Picture of Mount the Wings.

For this step, we unmount the backplate from the backpack for the time being, this way any discomfort caused by bolt heads is mitigated by the padding in the backpack when we re-mount it. In the actual costume, I have never even felt them, so don't worry.

You must now mount them to the wood. Basically the way I did this is trial and error. You want the nicest looking (for your purposes) look while open AND while closed, so play around a bit before you drill. You'll be able to try a few times with a nice thick piece of plywood backing, but better to play now.

Notice, this being my first go, the measurements aren't perfect. There's quite a bit of forgiveness here as most people will just say WHOA, and you will be moving. If the wingtips end up being close to the same height, it'll look fine. Do measure everything twice though. You can see here a lot of the test holes and mistakes I made while figuring it out THIS far.

Step 7: Hooking Up Air.

Picture of Hooking Up Air.

With the wings mounted on the back you can re-attach the backpack and get everything working and moving nicely just using your hands. Use washers wherever you can to reduce any tightness caused by nuts and bolts pressing directly against the tubing. I use large ones so that there was less change of warping the tube walls if I overtightened. Do not overtighten.

Okay you now have a pair of folding wings attached to a backpack. It's time to think about making them open and close.

First you need to see what a 4-way 3-position switch works like:

This switch has 3 positions:

Position 1: Air goes in at the bottom, and it goes out the left, pushing into the top of the piston and opening it downward. The right hand side is vented to exhaust.

Position 2: Air goes in and goes out the right, pushing into the base of the piston and closing it. The right hand side is vented to exhaust.

Position 3: No air goes in, Exhaust is closed. This means you can turn the whole rig 'off' in the open OR closed position.

I recommend playing with this setup before trying to attach it. You need to get a feel for how fast the pistons can open. Keep in mind that this 4 inches will translate to several feet as well. Essentially, unchecked the wings can open in the blink of an eye. Place speed limiting push-on attachment on all four ports of the pistons. Practice with them until you have a nice even speed, say about 1" per second. You may speed this up later but starting slower is ALWAYS better.

If you can access a compressor, the Jacpac uses standard fittings, so you can run perfectly normal compressor air into the system to avoid wasting CO2.

Step 8: Attach Power to the Wings

Picture of Attach Power to the Wings

Now we need to figure out WHERE to put the pistons on the wings.

To do this, you need to measure the exact throw of the piston (how far it opens) and the length of it.

You can also do some math to figure out the chord length of a circle, or you can do what I did and use the old Version 1.0 Eyeball.

We'll use my 4" pistons as the example here, since they have been installed and used at least twice and worked well.

I originally wanted to use pulleys, and/or mount the piston on the backing board. This means that you need to have a ton of nuts and washers to get everything in the same plane, and even then, any variation cause the wings to tear themselves away from the wood. It's just too picky using this method. We will deal with board-mounted pistons in V2.0.

It's MUCH easier to mount the pistons on the wings themselves. This way they fold and unfold without pulling or pushing against anything other than themselves. This was a much more stable solution and the wings worked well for over a year until I took them apart for V2.0.

Measure the piston from center of mounting hole to center of mounting hole. Mark this on a piece of wood (I used a piece of trim from the prototype). Also mark the same holes with the piston open on the same piece of wood so you have a measuring stick with both distances on it.

The piston throws 4 inches, so we know the best place to mount them is somewhere NEAR 2 inches from the highest pivot point.

Fold the wings closed completely, and mark with a pencil the spot about 2 inches from the top pivot point. This is in the middle of the 'wrist' part of the wing. See where this puts the bottom of the piston. Mark this spot as well.

Now open the wings, until the first mark moves completely from the closed distance to the open distance you have marked on the stick. This is where things get subjective, because the requirements for the open position depend on personal taste. Some people like the wings completely snapped. I liked them for this costume just over horizontal.

If the wings don't open quite enough, for you, erase the marks, fold the wings and start again, moving the top of the piston slightly closer to the first wrist pivot, until you have the effect you desire.

For durability, and to prevent the wings from warping, you want the pistons to be pushing in the same plane with everything else. Since the tubing is highly unlikely to be the exact width of the pistons, you will need to use the long 4" bolts and a series of nuts and washers to make the piston as close to straight as possible. Tighten down the mounting bolts with washers and nuts first, then start adding nuts and washers until the piston is as flat as possible in relation to the wings. The piston is going to push against this bolt, which is why I recommend the 1/4", it's going to take the most stress in the whole system.

Step 9: The Complete Rig.

Picture of The Complete Rig.

I added fabric wings, although there are many interesting options, these were very easy, folded over sheer fabric, sewn and cut into the scalloped shape. I was going for a old time airplane look reminiscent of the drawings of Michaelangelo, so I added the ribs in. It was a little bat-like, but nobody seemed to mind.

You now have a much better start than I did. I'd be happy to help clear up any remaining issues and update the instructions if anything is missing, please let me know.

Version 2.0 wings still to come, they require more shop skills, but are correspondingly more epic.

Here's a sneak vid of what this style of wing looks like opening and closing:


Ta LeaM (author)2017-04-23

Hey there, I have a pair of wings that reach a total of ten foot in wing span, however were unable to calculate the piston we would need. I'd like to keep it small in diameter, however the length of the piston including its stroke us still alluding us. I've attempted many of the calculators online, but without a lot of prior experience in Pneumatics. How do you calculate the length of the piston??

tbruyere (author)Ta LeaM2017-04-24

Well, you may not like the answer, I don't really have access to a selection of actuators, so I just used the one that Princess Auto carries. It was rated to, I think ,about 130 pounds, and seemed to be VERY strong in regards to the wings, I had to slow down the opening or there could be damage because they snapped open so quickly...

So I'm afraid I have no math for you, my apologies.


AndyW2 (author)2014-11-22

hi there thanks for the info yes i do have speed limiters on the piston the paintball shop set the regulator up so it can go from 75 psi to 300 psi range we i currently have it set at 115 psi with the d.o.t approved 300 psi lines the regulator is fully adjustable thank you again you have been very help full here is a pic of the regulator

AndyW2 (author)2014-11-22

hi there i have another question your using a co2 tank which is charged at or around 3000 psi which when deployed is coming out around 800 psi can you tell me what you regulated down to on average as in 20,30 40 psi or more ty again

tbruyere (author)AndyW22014-11-22

It's really dependent on the ratings of the gear, it will all be rated. 100 is probably safe if you've bought the same stuff as me. Be careful and check ratings, you can really fling stuff with these pistons. GET SPEED LIMITERS.

tbruyere (author)AndyW22014-11-22

I used one of these (big plus: portable air tools!), I understand that Kobalt makes one too, and it may be available for cheaper. I think I've heard Harbor Freight in the states and Princess Auto in Canada for places to start looking.

acPac J-6901-91 Portable Compressed CO2 Pneumatic Regulator Kit

AndyW2 (author)tbruyere2014-11-22

hi thank you for your info the reason i was asking is i am having an inline paintball gun regulator modified by my local paintball company and they were asking what i wanted the regulator set at or modified to as in lowest psi 30 psi to highest psi 120 so that i have a range to work with thanks for your time again

AndyW2 (author)2014-11-17

hi there can you tell me what size of aluminum tubing you use as in half inch by half inch square or thank you again

tbruyere (author)AndyW22014-11-17

I've used a bunch, half inch up to one inch, and the shorter pieces U instead of square tube. I even had some smaller. It all works strong enough, but it depends on if you want to run around outside with a ten+ foot wide sail on your back or you want to stand still in a convention... :)

Half inch was a decent strength, and I did walk fast across a dance floor with it open, no problem.

The reason for different sizes and U-shape was I wanted it to fold down super tightly, strength was never a problem.

AndyW2 (author)2014-11-16

hi again im having trouble understanding the solenoid hooked up to switch hooked up to battery is there any way you could post or show a picture of the 3 pcs hooked up .the solenoid i bought is only air driven but kinda on the big side so thinking of returning and getting the solenoid and switch you have ty for your time , any pics or explanation as to how the hook up would be greatly appreciated

tbruyere (author)AndyW22014-11-16

That's not electrically driven, that's a manual switch, so you just hook the air to it, no battery required. The electrically operated ones will have one or two sets of wires coming out. I used a manual switch for my first attempt, it was much easier to build the first version that way, less to worry about.

AndyW2 (author)2014-11-16

hi there can you tell me what type of batterie you are using to power the solenoid is it really small or what brand where do you have it mounted or hidden or rig

tbruyere (author)AndyW22014-11-16

The first battery I used was a 12v motorcycle battery size. 7Ah. That's because I wanted a large amount of lights though. The actual solenoids don't draw that much energy because they are activated for only momentary switches. You can now get 12v batteries much cheaper. I'm experimenting with the rechargeables they use for RC cars and planes now, much smaller, but I believe just about any 12v lithium rechargable that can handle a 2A draw will do the trick.

rbruey (author)2014-07-12

Wonderful contraption! Are you still using V2.0?

I want to consider these wings as an option...My teenager and I are designing/building a Maleficent Costume. I realize the movie wings were computer generated. But I wonder... I believe I can cover your wings with nylon and fabric. Would you happen to know the load bearing of your wings? How much do the wings weigh? I am still favoring rope pulleys, although my scrawny-arm teen may not have enough strength to man them. Have you found a back board lighter weight than the plywood or is that the most stable?

Any thought on this project?

tbruyere (author)rbruey2014-07-12

Due to family needs, I have put off a new set until this summer, but the short answer is that getting the wings up might take some strength but ought to be doable. The CO2 powered version could open the wings really fast and hard, so I didn't find a lot of problems with a cloth wing load. I still think a 1/4" plywood backing is about as light as we can do, unless I find an aluminum plate.

tbruyere (author)2013-04-29

Sorry I haven't been keeping it up to date, I will try to take a pic of how the 2.0 works, The next version I did was rocket-pods, and then I did some air-bellows pistons, but I've been too busy to to a lot of documentation. My apologies.

jmarinchak (author)2013-03-22

Wow! It would be cool to see your updates! Do you have pictures or updated plans that show the changes you made in version 2.0?

tbruyere (author)2013-03-21

Indeed, version two used pusher pipes, so that the pistons didn't have to move, which made the whole thing much more stable and less prone to leaks.. I've also re-used the idea to make rocket tubes that go from vertical to horizontal on the push of a button.

jmarinchak (author)2013-03-21

Great job on your wings! Did you ever get your version 2.0 completed?

Rob311 (author)2011-09-22

where did you get the pistons?

tbruyere (author)Rob3112011-09-22

I'm in Canada, so I went to a place called Princess Auto.

Here's a link to the 4-inch version of what I have:

The keywords to look for are pneumatic cylinder. I've heard good things about Fry's if you're in the US, but I can't speak from experience.

sonofstone (author)2011-05-11

that's just amazing, i right now am really sad about not having enough money to build something similar and yet a little different

jackiekeizer (author)2010-11-13

These are fabulous. I love the way they open and close slowly. It is so much nicer than ones that just spring open. I assume that is from what you call the 'speed limiter' but what is that exactly?

Each year I make costumes for our local Wearable Art Show. My sons have modeled since third grade. They are seniors this year and I have been wanting to make pneumatic wings for their grand finale. Would you mind sharing more details on the electronic circuit for your v 2.0 set? I think I have most of the components but any advice would be great and would save me tinkering time.
My e-mail is if you'd be willing to share any other advice.

Thanks and again, very, very nice work!

tbruyere (author)jackiekeizer2010-11-13

I have included in this instructable pics of all the pneumatic bits. The speed limiter is just a threaded quick-attach piece with a screw built into it. You tighten it down to make the airflow slower or loosen for faster. Pneumatics are incredibly quick without limiting. If you do find a place that sells this stuff, they'll certainly sell those along with the other stuff.

For art, I would definitely go with a solenoid switch, I got one (5-way 2-position) for 35 dollars, it takes standard 12V, and if you get a 2-position, it will only need a momentary switch to activate, so there's no constant power drain. The circuit is as simple as it gets once you have the switch.

The Version 1.0 wings suffer as a halloween costume because the moving air tubes will cause leakage and tend to get caught on stuff. This isn't a problem for a fashion show, though, just for moving through crows. Once you go with the solenoid switch though, you can make everything self contained so none of the workings are visible, and hide the switch in your hand, which is REALLY nice, nobody sees you tap it.

Let me know what you're having trouble with specifically and I'd be glad to help.

jackiekeizer (author)tbruyere2011-01-17

So, I'm probably going to sound like a complete idiot here, but I do have a few more questions. (Thanks for responding before) I have the solenoid switch and was asking a friend for help in setting up the circuit when he started asking questions I hadn't thought of. What kind of a switch did you use with yours? I was figuring simple switch - voltage - solenoid setup, but he was thinking that relays are needed to stop the action when the extent of the piston is reached and that the switch needs to be a two position switch, like a rocker or toggle.

Does the solenoid work so that a burst of electricity changes the position, and each time the switch is hit the position changes again? Or does the polarity reverse so that you do need a two position switch so toggle forward and the piston goes up, toggle back and it goes down? And, lastly, since there is no neutral on the two position solenoid, is CO2 always being depleted? Is it continually pushing up with the excess being exhausted? I didn't think so but I couldn't convince my friend, and when I thought about it I wasn't sure.

At this point I probably sound like I have no business attempting this, but help...I'm in too deep to quit right now! I'm on an island so it is a bit hard to get things. I ordered everything I thought I needed but got a couple of the wrong fittings. Otherwise I'd hook up the air to the solenoid to the pistons and see what happens. The solenoid has a manual override so I could get an idea of how exactly it operates.

I'd really appreciate knowing exactly what the circuit is that I need to operate the solenoid. I'm thinking I might be better off going with the manual valve but that would mean ordering new parts. If I can make this work with the solenoid it would be nice as the wearable art show is coming up pretty fast. I have the wings made...they just aren't moving yet!

tbruyere (author)jackiekeizer2011-01-18

This depends on the switch you have obtained. If you have a 3-position, then you have a neutral position where there is no constant pressure. 2-position means that you are alway pushing the wings up or down, there's no neutral.

NOW, to be clear, there's nothing wrong with the 2-position, as long as you're not leaking.

Once the piston is full of CO2, there's nothing further happening in terms of exhaust, so yes, it's 'on', but it's not exhausting co2 so you aren't actually using air, except for whatever leakage is in the system.

My solenoid was a 5-way, 2-position.

(5 way is 1 in, 2 out, 2 exhaust, and 2-position for a solenoid generally means 2 electromagnets)

For the 5-2 switch, you need a 2-way rocker (momentary) as once you click it, the switch moves into the position you are clicking and stays there, This is helpful, since you aren't using a lot of power at all.

The piston will stop when it's full, and the system will be at equilibrium. When you switch it back, at that point the air in the piston is pushed back by the air in the second half of the system, and out the exhaust.

SO this all depends on the switch you have, can you post the exact type?

jackiekeizer (author)tbruyere2011-01-18

I have a 5-2 switch. After posting last night I thought about it and I do understand the solenoid. For some reason he was thinking either that it would be venting all the time or that it is going to push the rig apart if I don't stop the airflow. 3 position might have been better for me, but I'll try to keep the leaks to a minimum and I have great regulators and the flow control. They will only be on stage for 4 performances and a rehearsal so they won't be opening and closing that much. I will disconnect the gas cylinder between shows which will also make sure no one else comes by and messes with it.

The 2-way rocker is just a simple switch, right? Basically hooked up battery to switch to solenoid and complete the circuit? My friend is an electronics guy who puts in car stereos, auto starts, etc for a living. I went to him to see what kind of switch, or to buy one from him, but he thought I needed a much more complicated system and was pretty apprehensive about the whole idea. NAPA has lots of switches, rockers included. Would one from there work? I'm pretty limited in town on components.

Thanks so much for your help with this. I'll be sure you get credit!

tbruyere (author)jackiekeizer2011-01-18

The 5-2 should have 2 sets of wires, one for each electromagnet. You can either wire up a momentary to EACH side, or get a momentary that goes left and right so you can wire up the single switch and get open/close on it.

Either way should work fine. I used a pair of momentary switches because I found that switch first to buy and wire in the time I had. You do want momentaries though, no point in burning juice holding them open with a solenoid.

In a pinch, use regular switches, but remember to flick them on and off again for usage. It's a bit of a hack, but really just a training issue.

Leaks are always an issue. we worked out a lot of that in V2.0 with a really nice articulation system. I did find that silicone on the tube before pushing it into the fitting, and then siliconing the entire area worked, but take care to let it cure properly.

I assume you know how to test with dish-soap and a brush? I found that even plumbing tape wasn't as good as I hoped, so my mechanic buddy and I siliconed the fitting threads as well.

Do remove the canisters between uses, but I did find that my 9oz canister was enough for 88 open-closes, while testing with the V1.0 rig. Real usage was about half that, due to the fact that I didn't have good leak sealing then, and the movement of the tubes.

jackiekeizer (author)tbruyere2011-01-18

Thanks. I have a Mettle Air 4V210-08 solenoid. It does not have two sets of wires though. there is just the +, - , ground. Is it possible that it is reversible? Could it use reverse polarity so that rocker up opens, and rocker back sends the opposite voltage and closes it? Otherwise, I'm not sure what to do.

I have found a lot of schematics showing the air workings, but really nothing on wiring except to say there is a +, -, and ground!

tbruyere (author)jackiekeizer2011-01-18

Okay, the only thing I can think of for that thing is that it's got a default 'on' or default 'off' and you hit a switch to alter that.

That's workable, although it will drain more power than the dual solenoid type.

I'm assuming you're using 24v? The spec seems to say it needs that. I can't find a spec sheet that describes the default and action states.

So then I would try to set it up with a momentary so that when in default mode it's powering closed. Then it should open and stay open only as long as you are holding the momentary switch, and close as soon as you let go.

Sometimes these things won't click without actual pressure in the system (mine wouldn't), so you'd have to test it live.

jackiekeizer (author)tbruyere2011-02-06

Well, I finally got everything working! Thank you so much for all your help. One I made with bike pumps for pistons and venetian blinds for feathers. that one worked well. The other has a double acting piston that proved a bit small to lift the plywood feathers very well. Pretty much everything that could go wrong with that set did, but fortunately I was able to fix it all.

the Wearable Art show was this weekend. There are shows on Thur, Fri, and Sat nights with a matinee on Saturday. I filmed the matinee if you want to see how they turned out. I'm really happy I got them done, but I'm also really glad its over! Thanks again.

Haunted Spider (author)2010-12-02

The wings look great. I built a set a few years back for a Jeepers Creepers costume. I had access to an escape bottle from work (2200 psi) that I regulated down and put through a single cylinder on my back. The cylinder only had a 6 inch throw so I used a double pully on it to give it the extra pull for the cables. It was all mounted on a metal frame strapped to my back.

The solenoid is a good idea. I didn't have one so I used two valves. One valve would pressurize the system. Once shut off, the second valve was opened to release the pressure and the wings reset. It was only a single action cylinder. The control still fit in my hand through and allowed for seamless movement of the wings.

At tip, if you want totally silent wings when the pressure releases, put a short piece of tube on the exhalation port and sew up a piece of cotton material layered 3 times to fit as a boot over the end. Make the cotton boot about 3 inches long and just tape it onto the tubing. It works like a charm as a silencer so no more hissing as the wings go down.

Here is a picture of the set I built. You can see the single cylinder in the center. Hopefully it comes through.

ClayChip (author)2010-11-07

These are awesome. I'd love to see a video of them in action.

tbruyere (author)ClayChip2010-11-07

Just an example. I think there's a video of the complete Hawkman outfit somewhere but I don't seem to be able to find it on short notice.

tbruyere (author)2010-11-06

And thank you! Sorry, I pressed post on auto-pilot before proofreading.

l8nite (author)2010-11-06

now those are WINGS ! totally fantastic

tbruyere (author)l8nite2010-11-06

V2.0 has back-mounted pistons, a 12v solenoid switching system, and is way more reliable. These were my first though, and turned out really well considering I had zero experience at the time.

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