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What do I need to make something that can fly a Santa accross a room? Answered

Hi all,

Weird one but as part of our Christmas party we want to have a range of competitive games and challenges which we can take part in as groups. The idea here is that we want the finale to be building and flying "something" which can carry a Santa as far as possible and whoever's get's the further wins...

I have never bought, made or played with any toy planes, drones, anything that flies etc so I wondered if there was a basic list of items we'd need to put these together? I should imagine we don't want them to take more than a few hours to make in total, and they should be powered by a motor and remote control?

Any assistance you can offer would be greatly appreciated.


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5 years ago

Christmas party? Bit of fun?

String taught lines across the room, with straws pre-threaded onto the lines.

The contest is then to build a paper/card Santa and sleigh, (maybe from pre-made parts that you stick on in order on the roll of a dice like the game Beetle*), hang it from the straw, then add an inflated balloon that rockets the whole thing across the room.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beetle_%28game%29

Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

5 years ago

I think I previously misunderstood your question.

You're not talking about an existing competition, with existing rules.

Rather, you are trying to design a game, for some number of participants, divided into teams. Moreover the way this game works is you give every team some kit, containing some generic collection of parts, plus a few hours of time, for to assemble some, or all, of the parts of their team's kit into a flying machine. Then all the teams test their flying machine, by trying to send it some course, fly it across the room or whatever.

I think the usual remote-controlled (RC) plane-copter, parts, i.e. electric motors, batteries, radios, etc, are a poor choice for this kit, for several reasons.

-o- I expect it will take more than a few hours to build a RC flyer, and have it actually work.

-o- I expect there is not a lot of room for creativity; i.e there is a small number of ways to assemble the parts into a working flying machine. Success in this contest will simply measure skill in a very narrow range of design.

-o- A working RC flyer is too capable. It can do more than just fly across the room, so the course, flying across a room, is too easy for it.

-o- The parts for RC flying machines are relatively expensive.

-o- The performance of RC flying machines depends a lot of battery state. So the team that randomly gets a bad, or undercharged battery, is just screwed, through no fault of their own.

I think a better plan for this competition would be to make the basic kit out of much, much cheaper components.

Start with basics, like energy storage.

Instead of batteries for energy storage, you can use things like rubber bands, latex balloons, mousetrap springs, also gravitational potential. These things do not store large amounts of energy, but they don't have to, because you're not sending Santa to the Moon, just to the other side of the room.

Structural materials should be cheap too, like: wood, paper, masking tape. If this party is taking place in an office, then naturally, most of your kit should consist of office supplies.


Also make an allowance for part of the machine to remain behind; e.g. a heavy launcher which throws a smaller, lighter vehicle, containing the paper Santa Claus.

Also make a rule concerning how much human energy can be exerted at the moment of launch. This rule is intended to prevent the too-easy solution of just tying Santa to something heavy and throwing him across the room.

My idea here, is it will be more challenging if we require most of the energy used for propulsion of Santa's escape vehicle to be previously stored energy.

Actually a mousetrap is useful for this. Just make it a rule that the vehicle must be launched by triggering the mousetrap. Then, the propulsion energy can come from the mousetrap spring itself, or the mousetrap can release the neck of an inflated balloon, or stretched rubber bands, or whatever.

I admit the allowance for a separate vehicle and launcher will lead to a lot of gun-like, or catapult-like designs, maybe in contrast to your original idea a whole flying machine that picks itself up and carries its entire bulk, from launchpad to target.

But I still think it would be fun, which is part of the goal here, right?

Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

5 years ago

The constraints of your problem are unclear.

Would it be against the rules to just tie Santa to a rock, and throw him across the room?