Windtrain Farting Flamingos




Introduction: Windtrain Farting Flamingos

What if the power of the wind could be harnessed to travel? What if anyone could produce low-energy, modular, wind-powered vehicles? What if new technology reconnected us to the power of nature, to ancient technologies?

Windtrain is a modular shape-shifting vehicle that is intended to be capable of carrying heavy things with very little energy, using wind power. A hybrid of a train and a sailboat of some sort. Several versions of the WindTrain have been built already to demonstrate the concept of " Protei": Windtrain " Mister T", " Baltic", " Heads or tails", " Ace", " MakerCamp". A later version is "Windtrain Umbrella", also documented on instructables here.

This is Harbour School G4A version of WindTrain, we called it "Farting Flamingos" - inspired by the gracious bird. It does not have a servomotor nor radio, it is not capable of being remotely controlled. It also lacks a front directional wheel. It comprises of 6 modules for a total length of 168cm, width 36cm, height 60cm.

It really is an educational project to introduce to students the use of tools, fabrication, collaboration to prototype wind-powered machines. Further prototypes are coming.

This project was developed at MakerBay, Hong Kong Makerspace and taught by Cesar Jung-Harada and Edward Ip with the Harbour School teachers. The introductory presentation by Cesar is here as a google slides.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Drawing and Presenting

On Monday morning, Cesar told us how to make single designs for our Windtrain. Then we went off with pieces of A4 paper to design our own Windtrain. After that we presented our Windtrain to the entire class. At the end of the day we went to groups of 3 and shared designs to discuss what would work and what wouldn't. The next day we split our class into 2 groups. Then we combined our designs to create 2 designs. We finally combined these 2 designs to create the ultimate Windtrain.

Step 2: Make a Small Draft Model

  1. Cut paper in a triangular shape
  2. Put the metal wire on top of the paper
  3. Cut it so it fits the paper
  4. Put 2 cardboard circles to represent the wheels
  5. Make 2 holes, one at the very front of the triangle, one a the back of the triangle
  6. Make the sails with tape and wire
  7. Stick the sail over the back hole so it sticks out on the bottom
  8. Make 6 triangles
  9. Do these steps, 6 times over
  10. Connect by putting the sail in the front hole
  11. Connect the modules with a "staple".
  12. Put a piece of cardboard next to the sail to stabilize it.

Well done! Now imagine how to make that bigger! On to the next step!

Step 3: Get Tools and Materials

When we were in school excitedly waited for the school bus to come and pick us up. Mr Lee drove us from school to Mong Kok. We were divided into small groups and assigned each group different materials and tools to help us make our WindTrain. Cesar pointed us in the right direction and we set off on our shopping adventure. We went into a lot of different shops to look for the correct items. We finally found what we needed and paid for the items. We left the shops with lots of different bags full of different materials and tools.

We shopped for almost 90 minutes and when we had finished we walked back to Argyle Street to meet the others. It was a successful trip and everyone got what they needed to. We got back on bus and made our way to MakerBay to start making our wind train!!

These are the materials we bought.

  1. Rollerblade wheels on bearing | 12 pieces (30HKD / piece)
  2. Glitter | 200gr
  3. Sails | 6 pieces (Free from the bin)
  4. Aluminium tube | 3 long tubes cut into 12 short tubes, 6 wheel axes, 6 masts
  5. Aluminium Sheet | 2
  6. Glue Sticks | 16 glue sticks
  7. Plastic ties | 24 ties
  8. Black cotton thread |
  9. With electric tape | 9m

Step 4: Build the Bench

We bought the tools in Mong Kok earlier. We have pliers and scissors and a wrench, safety goggles, tape measure, electric screwdriver chargers. We used nails and hammer to organise the workbench. We put the rulers on the bench first. We used the electric screwdriver to put the holes in. We outlined the tools with a marker so we know where to put them back in the right place. We trained each other for safely handle the tools and keeping our workspace clean and functional.

Step 5: Wood

At first we used a saw to cut, then we realised it was too hard for us. We used the laser cutter because it is more precise and faster than a person using a saw to cut thin plywood.

We went on to using SketchUp and made flamingo faces and other main parts of the structure. Then we worked to the laser cutter and cut the faces and the triangular structure. And then we sanded the burnt sides. And we stuck it together.

You can download the laser cutting files attached. We used 5mm thick plywood in a laser cutter that takes 850mm x 600mm.

Step 6: Aluminium Tubes

We cut the aluminium ø7mm tubes for the wheels and ø10mm for the mast of the ship. To cut it we used the hacksaw to cut it so it is in good shape.

Once cut, the tubes were cleared of their shavings with a flat and round metal files.

Step 7: Sewing

Cesar found some beautiful (free) golden fabric. He said we can use it for our WindTrain. We measured the fabric to stick together with aluminium. Then we cut the fabric to the measuring line with scissors. Afterwards, Cesar set up the sewing machine with the black thread and Cesar taught us how to use the sewing machine. Then we used the sewing machine and sew the 2 hems of 6 sails. The last thing we did was to get our group and assemble the sail with the aluminium.

  1. Get a sewing machine
  2. Make it on pattern 1 or 2
  3. Get gold fabric
  4. Draw the dimensions on the fabric
  5. Cut it out
  6. Cut a right triangle out. The bottom will be 22cm, the height will 55cm, the hypotenuse will be around 65cm.
  7. Set up the sewing machine
  8. Put the triangle under the needle
  9. Create pocket so the mast of the Windtrain can fit in
  10. Sew it carefully in position
  11. Rotate the triangle so the bottom will sit on the right
  12. Make the pocket so it can fit the boom
  13. Sew it carefully in position
  14. Cut the corner of the fabric to insert mast and boom

Step 8: Assemble

  1. Put the mast in the sail
  2. Put in the sails of the hole of the bases
  3. Attach the wheel tube with cable ties

Step 9: Decorate

We decorated our windtrain. First we added spots on the birds. Then we glued green glitter on the bases.

Step 10: Test

Near the end of the day, when we are finished our job, we assembled it and then we all looked at it. We liked the WindTrain we made. We all had fun taking turns running the WindTrain. After that we went back to school on the bus, then we went home. And then we came back the next day and we did more testing for the video. We then edited the video on i-movie.

Step 11: Feedback

Feedback from the teachers and the students.
Thank you all for building the WindTrain!

Come back to Makerbay soon!

Plywood Contest

Participated in the
Plywood Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Indoor Plants Challenge

      Indoor Plants Challenge
    • Trash to Treasure Contest

      Trash to Treasure Contest

    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    great team and project


    4 years ago

    great team build - well done all.


    4 years ago

    The kids look so happy making the project! I bet they really loved the name!