This instructable will show you how to make a nifty flying model known as an ornithopter from cheap to free stuff.

An ornithopter is a lot like a model airplane, but it flaps its wings like a bird or an insect, and is a lovely sight to watch in flight.

This is pretty easy to build; you really only have to make sure the bearings are all parallel. Everything else can be crooked and this will STILL fly just fine. It is also VERY sturdy and can take many, many crashes without breaking. As an added bonus (and due to my personal tightwaddery) it is CHEAP. You can make this ornithopter out of household items. Mine cost about $1.30 to make.

If you appreciate this instructible, please visit my blog for more ideas:

Bamboo Place Mat -- $1 at the local dollar store. We bought one too many for our table.
Gel Super Glue -- $1 for a 3 pack at the dollar store. Found it in a cupboard.
Plastic Grocery Bag -- Usually use them for tying up stinky diapers.
Coffee Filters -- Free from work (I don't drink coffee). And, no, I didn't steal them.
Paper Clips
Rubber Bands
Bic Pen
White School Glue
Clear Tape -- All free stuff I found lying around

CA accelerator -- $4 at the local hobby store. Sets super glue almost instantly.

Sharp Blade
Diagonal Cutters
Needlenosed pliers
Regular Pliers

Step 1: Assemble the Body

I looked up "ornithopter plans" on Google and can up with these plans. However, I wanted to make an ornithopter with four wings, like this. So I decided to base my ornithopter on the free bird plans, but modified it to make it four-winged and for use with my bamboo construction materials.

Start by removing some flat bamboo strips from the place mat and laying out the body shapes. I made some triangles. Using a pencil, carefully mark lines where they overlap. Cut along the lines with your dikes. Carefully clean up the edges with a knife. Glue together with a bit of superglue and spray with accelerator.

Continue for all the joints.
<p>I'm almost finished</p>
<p>does round dowels work?</p>
<em>Dear Royalestel,</em><br/><br/>Congrats on your &quot;ornithopter from household materials&quot;. To build one of these with such limited materials is a real accomplishment. I wanted to add a comment on your instructable, but it wasn't working, so I decided to send you a message.<br/><br/>Since a lot of people were looking for other plans and stuff, you might want to provide a link to <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.ornithopter.org">http://www.ornithopter.org</a> where there is a whole section of free plans for various designs.<br/><br/>(The &quot;competition&quot; link and also the &quot;articles and plans&quot; page both have several plans.)<br/><br/>Also, you should delete the comments from that &quot;chirothopter&quot; guy. Historically, the word &quot;ornithopter&quot; refers to any flapping-wing flying device, not just ones that have &quot;feathers&quot;. He's only going to confuse people by trying to divide these machines into different categories. Besides, he didn't even construct the term properly: It should be &quot;chiropter&quot; without the &quot;th&quot;.<br/><br/>Nathan Chronister<br/>The Ornithopter Zone<br/><em></em><br/><br/>PM'd to me and reposted here for everyone's benefit. The link is especially handy!<br/>
i have been meaning to reply to you for some time now so sorry for the late comment. I will agree with you that ornithopter is a very generalized term that is used to describe a flapping fying machine. however, if you disect the word you will end up with orni(bird) and thopter(flapping machine) and when the word chiroptera(bat) is disected you find chiro(hand) and ptera(wing) and when put together you end up with chirothopter and not chiropter as the word opter has no meaning without a prefix or suffix. so, if the roots are taken literally enough you end up with the three main groups of flapping machines: entomopter,chirothopter, and ornithopter and that's if you do not consider helicopters as flapping. i will also agree with you that this will confuse people and i am sorry for that. but, for those of us it does not confuse, this is very interesting peice of information and thats all im trying to make it into. i am not suggesting we change every book and website using ornithopter to the more specific term.
<p>OK, I guess it may be kind of pointless to reply to this eight years after the fact, and you may never see this reply, but I just saw this post and wanted to say, for what it's worth, that in fact royalestel is correct; it would be chiropter, not chirothopter. Your dissection of &quot;ornithopter&quot; is mistaken; the Greek prefix for bird is ornitho-, not orni- (hence why the study of birds is called ornithology, not ornology or orniology), and the second root in ornithopter is simply the same -pteros (wing) as in chiroptera. So it's not orni + thopter (neither of those are actual Greek roots); it's ornitho + pter, and simply means &quot;bird wing&quot;. (You don't have to take my word for it; you can look up &quot;ornithopter&quot; in any dictionary that gives etymologies and it will verify this.) So yes, as royalestel said, an analogous word formed from chiroptera would be simply chiropter, not chirothopter; there's really no reason for that &quot;th&quot; to be there.</p>
<p>(Or rather I should say Nathan Chronister is correct; missed that royalestel was quoting a PM.)</p>
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<p>I used the ink pen tubes as bearings and oiled them up to ensure the wires turn freely and smoothly, and it works great! It flies so effortlessly and has good motion in the air. Thanks for the Instructable!</p>
in the last airbender Aang, he had one <br>
anyone u can send the list of requirements
Great plans. will the bamboo sticks work on a 2-winged ornithopter, it being heavier when compared to balsa??
what r the inches cinimeter to all this bamboo i dont no how much to cut and with the paper clips what do u mean put one at the bottom of the body <br>
hey can we use a spring?????????
rather than coiling maybe you can use a balloon stick,maybe?pls reply..
great idea ive made 3 ornithopters and im sure thet would work
What's a balloon stick? You mean, like a straw?
instead of making the complicated paper clip bearing you can make a paper tube and super glue it and its practically like plastic
can you send me the plans at chaoshawk4@gmail.com thx (=
Author's video have been remove, so here is another one I found made by Kipkay : <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3wWfKEdvpY&feature=player_embedded " rel="nofollow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3wWfKEdvpY&amp;feature=player_embedded </a><br> <br> Skip to 2:50 for test flight !
&nbsp;You <em><strong>REALLY &nbsp;</strong></em>need measurments
He said that the plans are from the free bird plans
woo hoo!!! I made it! Awesome!
Can you make a video?
Yes!!! almost finished!!! Thank you so much for this instructable. I just need to renew the spring that you make in step 3. When I turn the hook, it gets caught a bit. In other words, the movement isn't smooth.
i only have round bamboo peicec. will the ornithopter still fly if the bamboo is rounded??
<strong>I also have only <em>round </em>bamboo pieces.<br /> I'm also wondering if this will work with them.<br /> I already started and I'm on Step 6 and I had no problem so far with my bamboo pieces being round.</strong>
does it really fly??
Absolutely. It would fly longer and better if it had an electric motor instead of a rubber band, but it does indeed fly just fine.
adding the motor would be easy <br /> the real challenge would be adding a rudder to remote controll it you could use a miniature rc submarine motor and board or <br /> fust buy the havoc avenger and use the electronics from it as weel as rudder only problem is short range and&nbsp;a free flow rudder &nbsp;
&nbsp;The radio&nbsp;instillation&nbsp;would be easy! If some one made one of these i could convert it to an rc model in under 24 hours! The difference in my model from yours is that i would use servos and an ESC instead of&nbsp;cannibalizing&nbsp;an rc helicopter. I would totally make one of these but I am to inpatient to glue all of those bamboo rods.
&nbsp;i used a rc car to make a plane, but i broke the reciever I think.
<p>first off you could use balsen wood and second the havoc avenger is an ornithopiter as well but the why it flies is hard to control and is adgetating</p> <p>ps&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>i tried it but i cant find it now</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
<p>Argh! Dis is so hard!!! Can anyone give me advice?<br /> Also, wat is the paperclip wire thingy for?</p>
Awesome work man....i just wanted to know how small you could make one of these for it to function as an indoor ornithopter....toothpick size? and also can u make the frame with aluminum wire, its easier to bend and gluing with epoxy is faster and stronger. thanks<br />
i dont get any of this<br />
were do you get this sticks?
I just put too"maybes" in that sentence i'm so dumb!
I made one of these, and the wings won't flap. is it because the crank isn't straight?
sorry if i sound stupid, but how do you make the body? I don't understand
Really it can be however big you want it, just study some ornithopter designs and figure out how big of a crank you need, what size wings etc... the important thing is you need to build light, and strong... because there is lots of torque/power going through the body to flap the wings... and also it has got to be very light if you want it to really fly for a good time and make sure the wings flap in unison
i have made one of these before, except its a singlewing type, not dual. It flew only so far, they neeed alot of torque to flap the wings. I have a vid of mine on youtube called Jacob's Ornithopter, its made of popsicle sticks lol.
can anyone tell me the length of the sticks my son is trying to big one and no where is the measurements of anything can you please help
looks sweet!!! Dude :>
great instructable!
I have a tip for other people making the coil, wrap the paper clip around a small screwdriver, this makes it soo much easier.
You know, I'll add that to the instructable. Another builder wound the wire around a small drill bit.
As a long time model designer and builder, I recommend doing a lot of redesign before kitting. Your design is decent, but there have been many of these made over the years and yours isn't new or innovative. If you design one to duplicate the actual motion of bird wings, you would have a better design as it holds more scientific interest. It also flies better. Birds use an up and back--forward and down motion with stiff airfoiled wings. They also have a second bend in the wings about where the elbow is.I made a decent flying one when I was about 12 and it won the scientific competition in high-school. They are great fun.Good work, I like what you have done. Ummm, I couldn't get all the photos to expand and couldn't see much of your work closely. Is this intentional or just an internet error?
Sometimes you go to war with the ornithopter plans you have, not the ones you'd like. Where are these other online ornithopter plans?
Um, step 1 has the link to the plans. I wanted to make a four-winged ornithopter. I really didn't change the design all that much.
Eh, I had zero response so no kits, but I was thinking about making one that's R/C controlled whose wing flap speed was influenced by surrounding air temperature. Thought that might be insteresting to watch. Wow. Twelve, eh? Go you! Not sure why the photos won't expand . . . wasn't intentional. And lastly, thanks for your kind words.

About This Instructable




Bio: Every now and then I come up with a unique idea. And then I find someone else has already thought of it . . . which is AWESOME ... More »
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