Introduction: Build an Airplane Light With Fusion 360 and a CNC Machine.
A CNC machine
Fusion 360: Download Fusion 360 here:
Wood, LED lights, Wire, Wood Screws, Glue, Varnish or Paint.
Step 1: Find an Airplane You Like Which Has a Front, Top and Side View.
Choosing an airplane like the C-130 will make your project simpler as the fuselage is mostly a round tube. If you don't want to make propellers choose a jet. Scale the model large enough to allow for the size of your lights. The light pictured is 1 inch for every meter of the full size airplane. The wingspan on my light is around 40 inches.
Insert your photos as canvases into Fusion 360. Align the side and front view in order to start drawing your fuselage.
Photo Front View, Permission to use:
Step 2: Free Form Modeling in Fusion 360
Select "Create Form." The cylinder works well for the fuselage. Choose width symmetry so that as you form one side of the plane the other side will mirror it. Start shrinking the form to match the photo. It is sort of like playing with playdough but for grownups. You'll likely have to start over a few times if this is your first project. Once you catch on you'll be impressed with the power and flexibility of Fusion 360. There are many instructional videos on the Fusion 360 website and YouTube to help you with this.
Step 3: Split the Fuselage Lengthwise
Use a "Midplane" from the "Construct" Menu to divide the fuselage in two. I cut my fuselage from a full 2" thick x 10 inch plank and glued the two sides together. I used 3D Adaptive Clearing with a 3/8 flat endmill and followed it with a 1/4 inch ball end mill Morphed Spiral finishing pass. The video is of the finishing pass.
Step 4: Find and Insert Blueprints for the Wing and Tail.
Search for images on the web and Insert a photo of a blueprint as a canvas and sketch the outline of the wing and tail parts. Extrude your sketch. Likely your wing will have some taper. I have hidden the canvas of the blueprint I used as I was not able to receive permission to use it.
Step 5: Use Freeform Modeling for the Nacelle
Since this airplane has four engines it capitalizes on the beauty of the CNC machine to duplicate parts. Insert a photo as a canvas and mold your form to match the canvas. (The canvas I used for this nacelle is hidden as I did not receive permission to use the photo) Drill a hole in the Nacelle and the propeller to put a dowel in to hold the propeller.
Step 6: Draw and Cut Your Propeller
Although there are many propellers on the web to download and use, the original C-130 propeller is quite simple to draw. Draw one blade and create a pattern to add the additional blades around the center cone. With a four bladed propeller you will have two blades which will be weaker because the grain goes across them. I found that I needed to cut my propellers from hardwood as the cross grain blades cut from pine easily broke. (This African Wild Olive pictured worked great.)
Step 7: Fit Your Lights
Bore holes with your CNC machine to fit your fixtures and LED lights. Drill small holes for the wires to come out of the top of the airplane to connect to your power cord.
Step 8: Enjoy Your Light!
Enjoy the OOH's and AAAHHH's of your guests.
Don't have a CNC machine? See my other instructable on an airplane LED light built with traditional tools. Airplane light with traditional tools
Participated in the
Indoor Lighting Contest
3 years ago on Introduction
Just love this! going to try this with an old model plane we have in our garage.
3 years ago
Not sure I'd have done it with freeform modeling, but... this is some damned good work and a nice finished product. Great job!
3 years ago
Dang, I love this!
I'd be incredibly proud to hang this in my office. Well done, beautiful work!!