Introduction: Spinning Reel

The Spinning Reel a play on words and also an integral part of this mechanical flying machine project.

The flying machine in question is made from readily available materials that can be found around the house, shed or scrap pile.

The list on supplies is based on the materials to hand you may substitute the nearest available equivalent.

For example.

The Bobbin, I used a plastic one but a wooden one will do and if used panel pins may be substituted for the standoffs but removing the heads would be advantageous.

I used a pencil but any suitable round dowel, rod or tube of suitable strength in wood, metal of plastic may be used

The plastic container lid needs to be rigid enough to be cut and manually formed but not too soft that is does not retain applied folds. Although it does require a lip around the perimeter to maintain rigidity once cut drilled and formed.

Now that you have selected your materials, lets build it.


1: Sewing thread Bobbin 32mm x 32mm with 7.5mm diameter hole*

2: Pencil or dowel 180mm length with 7mm diameter*

*Diameter of pencil or dowel needs to be slightly smaller than diameter of the hole in Bobbin.

3: Circular plastic container lid ~125mm.

4: Packing string 1.2m length.

5:Standoffs M2, 20mm body + 3mm threaded or panel pins - Quantity 3

6: 4mm wood drill bit.

7: 8mm wood drill bit.

8: Drill.

Items 6 to 7 could be replace by a hole punches thereby negating item 8.

9: 1.5mm wood drill bit or panel pins if a wooden Bobbin is used.

10: Protractor.

11: Marker pen.

12: Ruler.

13: Craft knife.

14: Masking tape.

All materials and dimensions are based on what was available at the time to accomplish the task and may vary although the basis forms may remain the same.

Care should be used when using drills and knives and other cutting implements to follow the recommended guideline for safety and usage.

Step 1: Rotor

Most of the work will centre on creating the rotor.

The rotor is made from a suitable plastic container lid.

Obtain you lid and if necessary give it a clean prior to use.

I would recommend making a template using a smaller lid (template in blue), to transfer markings and all replication of others.

With the marker pen and protractor mark 3 points around the perimeter at 120 degree intervals.

From these points draw lines to the centre of the lid.

Further sub divide these sectors in half and then half again until you have a total of 12.

Take the Bobbin and place its centre hole over the centre of the lid and draw around the Bobbin circumference with the marker pen.

On a suitable flat work surface tape the lid down flat to prevent it moving when being drilled.

[White masking tape works best as it allows you to see the markings on the lid through the tape.]

At the centre of the lid drill an 8mm hole that the pencil will pass through.

[I found that mechanical hand drill or low speed electric drill with wood drill bits worked best.

The wood drill has a sharp centre point that prevents slippage and is easier to align to the centre and additionally the drill circumference is sharper gives a cleaner edge.]

Measure from the perimeter of the newly made hole to the perimeter of the Bobbin circular outline and mark a point midway between these two along each of the 120 degree lines drawn previously.

At these three points drill a 4mm hole, these holes will align with the corresponding holes to be made in the Bobbin.

Keeping the lid taped down use the craft knife to cut out 3 sets of 2 segments, leaving 3 sets of 2 segments with 120 degree centres.

These remaining 3 segments will be the blades of the rotor.

Be sure to retain the outer edge of the lid intact as this adds rigidity to the rotor and helps to main stability in flight.

On each of these remaining sets cut along the segment edge of each odd numbered segment and fold the segment down bending at the centre line dividing the 2 segments in a set.

The optimum angle is between 15 to 20 degrees.

The rotor is now complete.

Step 2: Preparing the Bobbin

The Bobbin acts as a platform and engine for the flying machine.

Using the previously made rotor place this over the top of the Bobbin end and align the centre hole.

Placing, the pencil into the centre holes will ensure the two items remained aligned.

With the marker pen and holding the items together so that they do not move mark the Bobbin through the 3 holes previously made in the rotor.

The three holes in the Bobbin can now be drilled with a 1.5mm drill or panel pins applied.

If fitting standoff these will need to be screwed in to remain in place.

This stage is now complete.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

Take the string and tie a single knot on one end.

Wrap the string around the Bobbin anti-clockwise such that it overlaps the knotted end and pull it tight.

Once this loop is in place, continue to wrap the remainder of the string around the Bobbin until there is 15mm remaining free.

Keeping hold of the string wrapped Bobbin to stop the string unravelling, place the pencil through the Bobbin centre hole.

Next, place the rotor centre hole over the pencil and slide down aligning the three holes in the rotor with the standoffs.

With a tight grip on the pencil and your thumb pressed on the string wound Bobbin to keep the string in place rapidly pull the string towards you, whilst simultaneously raising the other arm as this will aid in releasing the rotor upwards.

We have lift off.

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