Through MIT’s ProjX program, where I was given $250 to pursue an independent project, I had both the time and resources this summer to begin working on a fun idea I’d had for a while. With all the RC planes and quadcopters available in the market, I always wondered why I didn’t see any aircraft that looked more like birds. Wouldn’t it be fun to fly something that looked more life-like? Some quick googling showed me that there are a few products you can find online, but I thought I’d try my hand at making a flapping-wing aircraft, or ornithopter, myself. I didn’t want to just replicate exactly what was out there, so I did some brainstorming to try to come up with a brand new flapping mechanism for my model. I spent almost 2 months thinking up and then 3D printing 4 different mechanisms, some of them using springs, strings, pulleys and all manners of moving parts, and through it learned the value of keeping things simple. I’m certainly not settling on this design due to several weaknesses like too much friction, but it’s a huge improvement from where I started:

Flapping gif

Motor isn’t driving this mechanism yet, hence the stop-motion

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