I've had a resurgence of interest in these devices thanks to the growing popularity of micro air vehicles (MAV), like palm sized helicopters and quadcopters, and suddenly had the need to try build my own ornithopter. This Instructable documents my recent attempts at crafting my own micro-orithopter from inexpensive components. This is really more of an Instructadon't, as none of these prototypes actually fly. I'm close to having a working version in the air, when that happens l will also create new Instructado using a more conventional format.
- Design and fabricate a palm sized flying machine using 3D printed parts
- Non-3D printed pieces, such as structural material and electrical components, must be cheap and easily to find.
- Printed parts should total no more than $10 when being made from ABS plastic or similar.
- Total cost should not exceed $40, including RC.
- Design and fabricate a Infra-red receiver and transceiver for remote control
- Small is the name of the game! I'm shooting for a wingspan of less than six inches.
- Spring Steel, aka Music Wire. hobbylinc.com
- Guitar Wire
- Miniature Motor, common pager style solarbotics.com
- 40mAh Lipo Battery sparkfun.com
- Tissue Paper
- Plastic Film, various thicknesses
- Sewing Pins
- Gorilla Glue
Design Software and Tools
123D beta9, Autodesk Inventor Fusion
Dremel, scissors, wire cutters, micro drills
Step 1: Initial Design and Material Testing
Step 2: Version Two - Less Yap more Flap
Step 3: Going Further
As it turns out, there is a lot I don't know about flight! Things like "wing stroke amplitude" and "lift distribution" which, to the uninitiated like myself, sound like they may be kind of important factors to consider in the next design. I eventually found a few websites that go into every little detail of how ornithopters fly, including different designs for the wings. Most of the technical jargon is a good meter over my head, but I think I've gotten the jist of it from the pictures.
www.ornithopter.de, www.ornithopter.org (Ornithopter Zone)
As I understand it, an ornithopter's wings need to twist during flight so that they generate both lift and thrust. This curvature creates an airfoil that, at some points along its length, produces lift during both the up strokes and down strokes. Thrust is provided by wizards...
I still don't fully understand it, but I'm going to forge a head anyway under the banner of "flex good, no flex bad!" I plan to tweak the design more, use guitar wire for the struts, try a few different hinge designs, and see if I can get one of these bricks in the air. At that point all I'll need to do is design and fabricate an IR receiver / transmitter pair to control it, a project that is a little more within my realm of expertise.
Thanks for checking out my progress so far and learning what you shouldn't do when making tiny flying machines. On the final step you'll find a video collection of actual working models made by people who know what they're doing :p
If you or someone you love has experience building these and would be willing to point out what I'm doing wrong, please do leave a comment!
Huge thanks goes out to Jake and Steve over at Instructables for their help in working out the bugs and with the video. You guys rock!
Step 4: Inspiration
Shapeways 3D printed Ornithopter
Rubberband Ornithopter Instructable
These are videos of some of the more interesting models that ultimately gave me ornithopter fever.
Hummer / Da Vinci RC Ornithopter 10cm wingspan 1.1g
Winner of MAV-07, developed by Petter Muren. It was later made into a toy, but was never mass distributed.