Introduction: UFOs--Ultracapacitor Fueled Oblate Spheroid

About: I am an author and a maker. My current project is Santa's Shop. I'm working on a science fiction type book--more later. @EngineerRigsby

This UFO climbs a single strand of fishing line while flashing lights rotate around the body. At the top of its cycle, the craft stops and the lights simultaneously flash different colors. Next the vehicle descends to the charging base.

This is part of an animated display window and the craft is "on its own" when it leaves the base (base and display may power down while the UFO is on a mission).


(2) Arduino Uno

Arduino Motor Shield

Servo motor (metal gear without end stops)

DC voltage up converter

(10) fast flashing LED

(2) micro lever switch

5 Volt relay

2 Amp diode bridge

(2) 120 farad, 2.8 volt capacitor

(5) 200 ohm resistors, 1/4 watt

USB power supply

(2) 5 volt relay module

DC 6 volt (500 mA) power supply

12 ohm 4 watt resistor

(2) 10K ohm 1/4 watt resistors

1/4" copper foil tape

(8) 6mm magnets




Electrical tape

3d printed parts

20 pound fishing line

Step 1: Background for Main Photo

My wife, Annelle, made the planets by painting foam balls and inserting hooks. They hang on 4 pound fishing line. Obviously, they are more impressive when viewed up close.

Step 2:

These are the schematics and software sketches for the craft and charger base.

The base Arduino monitors the voltage going to the capacitors through the pickup rings. When the voltage is high enough (capacitors are charged), the Arduino turns on the relays, which reverse the polarity of voltage going to the pickup rings. The "start" relay in the craft is energized and that powers the craft's Arduino--initiating takeoff.

When the craft leaves the base, the lever switches on the bottom of the craft close and continue to power the on board Arduino. When the saucer "lands," the lever switches open and power is removed from the up converter and Arduino.

Step 3: 3d Print Files

The saucer takes a bit of time to print.

Step 4:

LEDs are inserted in the holes and wired in place using wire wrap wire. There are five sets of two leds. Each set of leds are placed 180 degrees opposite one another.

Step 5:

The gear motor is a servo motor with some of the electronics removed. Examine my project, Ghost on a String, for instructions on how to accomplish this.

Step 6:

3mm screws from the bottom of the base thread into the motor mount and secure it in place.

Step 7:

Two capacitor holders are secured using 3mm screws.

Step 8:

Add the capacitors.

Step 9:

Press magnets into the two rings. The magnets must be placed such that the rings will attract one another. Glue one ring to the lower saucer and one to the upper saucer.

Step 10:

Mount the Arduino/Motor shield combo using one 3mm screw.

Step 11:

Mark the bottom of the craft using the two rings.

Step 12:

Mount the lever switches using 2/56 screws. Solder wire to the levers (this is the pickup mechanism).

Step 13:

Mount the lever switches to the rings, one on the inside ring and one on the outside ring. I melted the lever switch brackets to the base using a soldering iron. They could be glued instead.

Step 14:

Create a base, 8 inches by 8 inches. Use 1" x 2" boards for the side walls. Mark the ring positions using the 3d printed ring markers.

Step 15:

Add foil tape and solder wires to the ends of the tape.

Step 16:

Drill a 1/4" hole in one of the side walls and bring the wires from the tape through that hole.

Step 17:

Add an eye hook to the inside wall of the base.

Step 18:

Tie 20 pound fishing line to the eye hook.

Step 19:

Bring the fishing line through the center hold in the base.

Step 20:

Wrap the fishing line around the pulley inside the saucer.

Step 21:

Bring the line through the top hole in the upper saucer. Attach the top and bottom of the saucer together (they snap easily due to the magnetic rings).

Tie the upper end of the fishing line to a hook on the ceiling, making certain that there is enough tension for the pulley to move the craft.

Step 22:

Attach the base electronics to the base, power up and soon you'll be flying.

Space Challenge

Runner Up in the
Space Challenge