Instructables
Picture of Rubberband Helicopters: step-by-step

The rubberband-powered helicopter is easy to construct, and with a little practice it can be flown 20+ feet into the air!

How It Works:
1. Energy is stored in the sport rubber by winding the propeller.
2. When flown, the rubberband rapidly releases its energy by unwinding, which turns both the propeller blade and the paper cutout.
3. The paper cutout pushes against the surrounding air, which creates horizontal air resistance, or drag. This makes it harder for the cutout to spin. Because the cutout does not spin as easily, more energy from the rubberband is released into the propeller, which is much easier to turn. In this way, the paper acts like the rear rotor of a real helicopter
4. As the propeller spins rapidly, it begins to create lift by pushing air downward. With enough energy, the helicopter will fly in whatever direction it is pointing.

 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Materials and Tools:

6" hook nose propellers
Craft sticks
Paperclips
Rubberbands
Cardstock
Masking tape
Scissors

Step 2: Propeller

Picture of Propeller
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The propellers from Kelvin.com should fit snugly onto a craft stick

Step 3: Paperclip

Picture of Paperclip
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Bending and attaching the paperclip is usually the most challenging step for young kids in grades 1-3. I usually hold the end of the paperclip (on the right side of the photo) between my thumb and forefinger. Then I show how the paperclip bends inside itself. The students need to pull that inside bend apart from the rest of the clip.

Attaching the paperclip can also be tricky. It it's not properly attached, it can be ripped off from too much tension. I try to make it simple for my students: hold the paperclip flat against the craft stick with the tip of the thumb, then tightly wrap a piece of masking tape around it.

It helps if the two ends of the paperclip are separated by the craft stick as shown in the photos, but it's not necessary.

Chazbot5 months ago

Is there a way to connect a different prop to the craft stick?

It is so well and amazing! I like it!

not well
puffkin0071 year ago
what size propellers did u use? which one from the catalog?
I build many kinds of model aircraft and because I can't buy propellers and associated parts to hold it and the rubber band, I usually build these from bits of rubbish laying around my room. To build a prop, I cut and bend a piece of plastic of the right strength/flexibility before gluing it to 2 beads and a piece of wire. For the part that holds the propeller shaft I cut a pen lid in half and glued one part to the side of the other to house a stick for a fuselage and poked a hole in the cap for the wire to fit through. Also, have you thought about making a rubberband powered autogyro? I made one a few months back and it works pretty well.
twighahn2 years ago
this would be a great way to have a party activity
WYE_Lance (author)  twighahn2 years ago
Indeed it is - I've conducted this activity for birthday events as well as in the classroom. I've also used it at a local festival as a craft for kids.
artworker2 years ago
Lovely! I can see my students having fun making it!