Introduction: LEGO Airplane Launcher

Hello! This is a paper airplane launcher that I spent quite a good amount of time on building and figuring out the mechanisms. There isn't really a need for this but I just think that it looks so cool when worn. Please note that this project can be replicated easily with any form of microcontrollers, and 2 strong motors (strong enough to launch a paper airplane). However, in this project I have used a EV3 from LEGO as I did not have access to much parts and a 3d printer to print custom parts to secure certain bits of the project.

Step 1: Building the "shooting" System

This first step is very simple and I will guide you through the mechanisms and components required. First, you will need 2 motors, ideally ones with high RPMs. In my case I have used 2 EV3 large motors. If you do not have access to motors with high RPMs like I do, then gear rationing will be required. Here you can see the mechanism that I have used in the picture above. As you can see, the bigger gear is connected directly to the motor, while the smaller gear is connected to the side of the big gear. This layout of gears causes the RPM of the axle to be increased significantly, as it is connected to the smaller gear. This setup will also mean that the motor will not be as strong as before, but strength of the motor is not required here as we are launching paper airplanes. One of the difficulties faced when building this is that the gears were not tight. I resolved the issue by using 2 beams supporting the axle that is connected to the smaller gear thus causing the smaller gear to stay in the ideal position. Afterwards, I had to make a mirror image of this motor on the other side.

Step 2: The Trigger and the Handle

The trigger and the handle supporting the trigger were the next things that I moved on to build. The trigger that I used is a LEGO touch sensor, but you can use anything that you want that changes the flow of current in a circuit. (eg. a switch, a button, a capacitive touch sensor, a pressure sensor). This will basically be the trigger to make the motors spin, and in turn cause the paper airplane to be shot. The handle has to be a pretty flexible build so that you have some wiggle room while using the device. To build the handle, I have used some axles and rods to secure it but this can also be replicated with something simpler like string.

Step 3: The Whole Casing

The whole casing really depends on what you are using to build this project. The purpose of the handle is firstly, distribute the weight of the motors and in my case, the EV3 brick which is quite heavy. Secondly it is to ensure that the user will feel that the parts mounted on the casing is secure and will not fall off anytime. Lastly, the casing is used to mount other required components such as battery packs and even some decorative items! This can be as simple as wood as strings!

Step 4: Mounting

The next step is mounting everything onto the case. In my case, I faced a bit of issues as I did not have access to custom parts, so I had to keep modifying the case to fit everything that I wanted on. While mounting everything, you have to visualise where the plane will be. Keep in mind that you will also have to leave a gap in the front to guide the paper airplane when it is being shot, as shown in the picture above. Also, try to keep heavy items on the front and the back and mount the electronics in the centre. This is to ensure that the weight of the parts are evenly spread out. Another thing to look out for is that you need to make everything secure and pay more attention to parts that can be moved.

Step 5: The Paper Airplane.

This step is fairly simple as many of the small A5 sized paper airplanes will work. There are many paper airplane tutorials on youtube, so you can go and check them out. Also, another thing to look out for is that you want wither the weight to be equally distributed or on the back of the paper airplane. This is to ensure that the paper airplane would not fall off before you shoot it.

Step 6: The Program

The program for this is fairly simple, it just requires you to have a loop, with a if function inside, waiting for the trigger to be triggered. Then upon activation the motor will have to move. For my program, I made the motor move 700 degrees after the button was pressed, but feel free to experiment with other variations.

Step 7: You Are All Set!

Thanks for reading this instructable and happy launching!

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