Picture of Rubber-band Powered Butterfly
This little widget doesn't take much building, and will flutter across a room.

(No video because I ran out of bands in prototyping, and I need to get this posted before the deadline.)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
The materials you need:

  • Three paperclips. I used large ones that opened out to 15cm long, but I see no reason why this wouldn't work with ordinary clips.
  • An elastic band, sized to match your clips (the ones I used were 6cm long).
  • Paper - stiff and light for preference.


  • Pliers (two pairs could make life easier).
  • Glue or tape.
  • Scissors or craft knife.
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cRimeTHor3 years ago
yeah.. how does it works?... think impossible to fly....
If you have seen a helicopter or a prop plane (plane with propellers), you know that the propellers are rotated slightly. Now think of those propellers as mirrors, and all of the air as light (is weird, but that's how I think of it). When the propeller (mirror)spins, it moves the air (light) behind the propeller. Now there is empty space (not even any air) (also called a vacuum) in front of the plane. Since empty space (vacuum) pulls things into it, the plane is pulled forward by the empty space (vacuum). Does that make sense?

Furthermore, have you ever noticed the shape of a plane wing? Well, a propeller is actually a sideways wing. Wings produce lift on the plane by creating a vacuum above it.

Good answer?
Jfieldcap made it!7 months ago

I found that to make the wings work better, It seems best to just lay them flat and tape them onto the wires. Mine doesn't fly so well, but I think it's a lack of a better rubber band. :D Still a great project though!

but i want to know a bit is it a glider like thing that is if i release it from a place will it glide to the ground or it will go upper than the level from which it has been thrown and then will go down slowly?(hope to get your answer soooooooooon) and i am working on it now the thing is half done beside my laptop.may even find out the answer tomorrow after making it myself.
Kiteman (author)  argha halder2 years ago
It goes off in roughly the direction you launch it, but falls to the ground as soon as the wings stop spinning.
thanks for your answer!
great instructable.hoping to make one very soon.(awesome one)
Kiteman (author)  argha halder2 years ago
Thank you.
I have made some basic rubber band helicopters using pen tubes for a "frame" and they worked quite well, but just not for very long. The blades did not have enough drag to allow for longer flight duration and both ends spun freely, instead of one end fixed to the frame. one problem with the pen tube is that the band gets knots in it when winding and unwinding and gets stuck. Nice Instructable!
Kiteman (author)  awesomecreations2 years ago
Thanks for that!
You're welcome.
GofishRC0072 years ago
Its cool but it needs more pics and instructions , its to hard to understand
chubawabu3 years ago
and the amazing kiteman does it again! Amazingly designed instructable, nice one
Kiteman (author)  chubawabu3 years ago
Thank you!
NXTHacker3 years ago
Ok, i've made one of these, now it flew somewhere and i lost it:)
How do they work? Mine just jumped out of my hands and fluttered, is it just a rubberband heli? The *wings of the butterfly acts like the blades?
Kiteman (author)  NXTHacker3 years ago
Pretty much, yes - the top wings twist like a propeller, and the bottom wings stay flat to resist the reverse spin (a bit).
4sdmk43 years ago
This is great... making it for VBS with the kiddos... couple pointers... do not use coated clips, they need to be bare metal... mailing labels work for a quick and easy wing (just fold them in half over the clip and shape them) ... and if you use a large clip for the body and small clips for the wings the weight is reduced and flight is a little better.
canucksgirl3 years ago
Nice ible! :)

See I knew you didn't need a 3D printer and all that mumbo-jumbo to get it to work (the rubber band and paperclip method works great!)
IITO4 years ago
how to play that thing ??? -_- i still dont understand...
IITO4 years ago
to hard for me ... -_- ...
i still dont have the thing for make that so i dont understand XD
R and R4 years ago
Well I have tried this three times now and it just isn't working for me. Do y'all have different elastic bands down there? It would be really cool to get this going for my kids, but as of yet, I am still at the crash and burn stage. Any suggestions or tweaks? Thanks for this awesome sight. I'm like a kid in a candy store here, not sure where to begin!
Kiteman (author)  R and R4 years ago
Er, thin paper makes it lighter, make sure it spins freely, and really crank it up - it doesn't take off from your hand, you have to throw it.

tim14 years ago
thanks for letting me know!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
tim14 years ago
this is so awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that I will make it!!!!!!!!!!!! But how do you wind it up?????????? Please tell me n=in a comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kiteman (author)  tim14 years ago
You hold one set of wings in one hand, and twiddle the other pair around with one finger of the other.

I want to do..:( i cant see pdf :( equal is a very brilliant proyect :)
Kiteman (author)  artistalight5 years ago
Thank you.

Unfortunately, PDF files are only available for pro members.
I can get them, but I've also been a member since before "PRO" memberships came along.
jid46114 years ago
jid46114 years ago
could you use a cereal box? I don't go to many stores with 60 lb cardstock in them
Kiteman (author)  jid46114 years ago
That's fine - it's just harder to decorate.

Any stiff-ish sheet will do it.
supersmeady5 years ago
for the loop one it is easy to use a safety pin.
randomguy15 years ago
thanks works great and is heaps of fun
Kiteman (author)  randomguy15 years ago
Cool, thanks for commenting.
briwood5 years ago
This is an awesome project for kids! I spent sometime creating a template for wings which I have tried to attach here! Make sure that you attach carefully as to not foul the mechanical movement. I Let my nieces color the wings with sharpies, then cut them out and attached them- used 60 pound card stock and a pretty heavy rubber band. worked great- bands have about 6 good flights in them( after the first 2 or 3) so have extras! great fun on a rainy day. Thank you for making me the coolest uncle in the family!
Butterfly wings.pdf(595x775) 49 KB
Kiteman (author)  briwood5 years ago
You're welcome, and that template deserves a patch!
azuro5 years ago
hey! Where's the video?Good instructable though. ;->
Kryptonite5 years ago
Well, I guess it's about time for a video now, wouldn't you say so, Kiteman?
I have a ton of ripstop nylon, and want a HUGE kite, how would i build one without sewing?
Kiteman (author)  Yerboogieman6 years ago
You can glue or weld it as well.
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