Introduction: Star Wars Ornithopter / X-Wing Vs TIE Fighter

Ornithopter: (n) A machine designed to achieve flight by means of flapping wings.

       This instruction will show you how to fashion an ornithopter that depicts the fight between an X-Wing and a TIE Fighter. As you see in the photo, the two spacecrafts are built into a single ornithopter. The X-Wing's change of wing shape contributes to the flapping of the wings, where as the TIE Fighter is used as a horizontal & vertical stabilizer. 

       I didn't mean to be so chatty with the instructions but I figured that would help some makers more than just a photo set with one liners. Click through the steps to find out how you can make your own! And don't forget to vote for this Instructables! 

Step 1: Materials & Maybe a Warmup

Before we start building for the empire, I want to introduce to you a simpler project (Fig. 1) that inspired me to build this Star Wars ornithopter. MAKEzine has a great PDF file of an ornithopter project that will take maybe half a day to build. I actually recommend you try this out first to treat it as a "warmup" project before jumping into the Star Wars ornithopter and be surprised by a weak joint or a faulty wire job. Playing with the simpler ornithopter will get you understanding the key points of the build. I'll be pointing them out through out this Instructables but it's always fun to build, right? So check this out when you have the time:

Materials you'll need:
- 3/16 square balsa stick cut into 
        A) two 16" length (wings)
        B) two 5" length (body)
        C) two 1.5" length (pillars)
        D) two 2" length (the "arms")
        E) one 3/8" length (just a spacer for the engine)
- music wire cut into
        I  ) one 4" length (drive shaft)
        II ) one 4" length (main pivot)
        III) one 1.5" length (secondary pivot)
        IV) one 7" length (tail connector)
- printing paper (think double A) 
- rubber band (I used 5~7 but they were small so.. give them a try)
- metal tubing / beads / or anything to use as spacers for the wire
- some heavier paper (got mine from an old calender pages)
- blank plastic bag

Tools you'll need:
- nose pliers / or anything to bend your wires
- box cuter / crafting knife / scissors
- tape (thinner tapes will be easier to use, so leave your duct tapes be)
- super glue / krazy glue / you know what I'm talking about

Other things I've used but forgot to include in the picture:
- some means of drilling a hole (screwdriver / nail / sheer strength)
- 4 Q-tips
- markers / pens / color pencils for the paint job
- hands

Step 2: Get Your Drones to Work!

Begin gluing the two B) 5" lengths and two C) 1.5" lengths according to Fig.1. Glue one C) as close to one end of the B), and the other one somewhere in the middle. You're going for a ladder-like shape and this will serve as the body frame of the X-Wing. You'll see that I've glued the pillar slightly away from the very end. I didn't cut square so that's what happened there. Not a big flaw, but no need to follow exactly like the photo as well. 

    ***If you look at Fig.2 you'll see that I've used tape to hold the pieces together while the glue sets in. Even after the glue dried I left the tapes attached as that gave the connection more strength. And because of that I started cutting my tapes in thinner strips so that it looks better later on. 

While the body frame is being dried, proceed to making the two "arms" as I call them. This piece requires you to roll a "tubing" out of printing paper. Simply cut a strip about  1/4" by 5" of PRINTING paper (leave that rigid paper for now) and start wrapping it around the wire you are using. Basically you're creating a custom tubing for your wire. Simply secure the ends with some tape, and create four of those to glue on each end of the two D) 2" lengths according to Fig.3.

shows you the completed "arms". Leave these aside. Pat yourself on the back.

Now add some more parts to the body frame. Like you see in Fig.5 you'll need to glue a paper tubing 1/2" in length on the top of the frame, while the E) 3/8" spacer on the bottom, followed by your choice of metal tubing / or beads below that. I was stingy with this tubing for my first build with the practice ornithopter and rolled myself a paper tubing. Doesn't work. Turns out the wire shaft you add later on applies quite some friction on that face. So go with some smooth metal tubing or spheric beads for minimal friction. Let them dry. Go get some beverage. 

Step 3: There Is No Spoon.

Before you start bending wires, go ahead and drill holes into the smack middle of the two A) 16" length sticks. So that should be somewhere along the 8" mark of the stick. Now, drill another hole 1 3/4" away from the center hole you just drilled. Recap: two holes on each 16" sticks. Now we're ready to bend wires.

Just keep in mind that all bends are 90° unless I say so. Take the III) 1 1/2" wire and bend on the 3/4" mark. You'll have an "L" shaped wire piece. Success! Take this piece and glue it on to an A) 16" length stick. Make sure the slightly longer end of the wire punctures through the hole 1 3/4" away from the center hole. Again, do not disturb the center hole. Take the II) 4" wire this time and bend on the 3/4" mark again. Make another bend 1 3/4" from the first bend. Refer to Fig.2 for direction of the bend. You'll have an awkward "Z" shape. This time you glue this wire piece on to the other A) 16" length stick puncturing the center hole with the longer wire end. Again, puncture the center hole this time.

Now take the I) 4" wire and bend it according to Fig.3. Make sure you make the bends with one of the "arm" embedded in the bends.

Once you have the parts ready, assemble them according to Fig. 1, Fig.4, and Fig.5. Play with the crank and admire the bones flapping. Go out and get some fresh air and vitamin D.

Step 4: "Beep-bob-bob-whee-whopp" - R2D2

It is time to make the TIE Fighter. Take out the rigid / heavy / stiff paper you have lying around, and cut out two hexagons and a ¢ shape like you see in Fig.2. Keep in mind that the paper needs to be stiff enough to stand by itself once the TIE Fighter is put together. Now that I think about it, a Kleenex box would work great and readily available.

Once the parts are cut out, pimp them out with whatever means of coloring you may have in your reach. I used some sharpie markers and color pencils, so you don't need to go crazy with tools. I just googled some images and movie stills for reference, but then again, it's your own project! customize them to your liking. While the TIE Fighter was being made, I went ahead and worked on some decorative pieces for the X-Wing as well. Check out Fig.3 for reference if needed.

*** Tips on decorating: I referred to movie stills for the big parts and major color scheme of both spacecrafts, but the parting lines and other random lines are just made up. They are just badly written "F"s and "L"s. Keep them bold, and don't leave them to be the center of attention. The more lines there are for your eyes to look at, the more it blends in with the subject.

You'll see that I left out some white tabs on the sides of the TIE Fighter. The side tabs will be folded inwards to help you glue the hexagonal sides. See Fig.4 for reference. Glue those hexagons on and park your TIE Fighter to the side. You're done with the TIE Fighter.

While the TIE Fighter is being dried, go ahead and take the four Q-tips (or toothpicks) and glue each to the ends of the X-Wing wings as you see in Fig.5. These will need to support the "skin" of the wing as well, so be sure you're generous with the glue on these. You're so close to the finish line now.

Step 5: "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" - Chewbacca

 Let's put the wings on. Tape the corners of the plastic first. If you are stingy resourceful like I am, you probably found your plastic bag in a ball. Flattening out the creases will help with you're tracing, decorating, and cutting. Once you have it stretched out like Fig.1,  lay the X-Wing over the plastic bag and trace out an outline. Remember to leave about 1/4" of border around if you want to glue this sheet on to the wooden frame.

 *** It is easier to color and decorate the plastic bag while it is still taped down. So try to resist cutting out the outline until after the coloring is done.

Repeat the instruction for both top and bottom half, color, and cut. You'll end up with two "skins" like in Fig.2. Go ahead and bend & attach the IV) 7" wire to the end like you see in Fig.3. It should be self explanatory if you've followed the instruction along. Take a bathroom break, because the time has finally come.

Step 6: Pew Pew Pew

Assemble everything! I shouldn't need to instruct this. TIE Fighter goes on the tail end of the wire. Glue it. X-Wing's paper decorations go on next, tape & glue. Apply the bottom half of the plastic "skin" first, than the top half over that. Tape it, glue it. Done. Admire your work. The ornithopter will look something like Fig.1.

    Features of the Star Wars Ornithopter:
- the X-Wing flaps from its "normal" wing mode to "attack" wing mode (Fig.2, Fig.3)
- TIE Fighter on its tail! (Fig.4)
- everything on a single flight craft
- pewpewpew (I added a green paper tube on the tail wire to make it look like the TIE Fighter is firing laser at the X-Wing)

*** I wasn't able to record any videos of it flying just yet. I'll update you on that once the weather clears outside!

Step 7: Activate Full Imagination

   Turn on your imagination and have a go at it! Thanks for following my Instructables and do enjoy! Comments and questions are welcome.

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