How to Design & Build
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Join the Society
to Design & Build Ornithopters
built some of the ornithopter model kits. Now you might want to
try developing some of your own ornithopters. This section of the
Ornithopter Zone web site provides an introduction to ornithopter
design. The information comes from The Ornithopter Design Manual,
fifth edition, by
Nathan Chronister, published by the Ornithopter Society in 2008.
Systems: Choosing the right motor and battery are
both essential for building a successful ornithopter. Here,
I will explain some of the different options and how to choose
the right power system.
Design: Unless you use a rubber band for power, you'll
probably need to gear down the motor, to give it enough torque
to flap the wings. The gearbox can be one of the most challenging
parts of your ornithopter to build. The information here will
make it much easier.
Flapping Mechanism: Here is where we convert the rotary
motion of your motor into an oscillating wing motion. This
is what makes your device an ornithopter instead of an airplane
or helicopter! Several different mechanisms and construction
techniques are described. The Ornithopter Zone web site also
has a software program that can help you design your own flapping
When building ornithopters, an efficient wing design can make
the difference between failure and success. There are several
general types of ornithopter wing. In this section, I'll describe
the advantages and disadvantages of each type, and I'll tell
you how to build them. This is where we talk about aerodynamics,
in case you've been wondering where the lift comes from.
and Control: It's pretty easy to stabilize a free-flight
ornithopter, but when you add radio control, some surprising
things happen. Often the ornithopter refuses to come out of
a turn! Just as there are several ways to steer an ornithopter,
there are also some things you can do to avoid these problems.