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Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 5:52 AM

Hi guys,

I'm Jarno from the Netherlands and a new member here on this forum. I would like to share my project with all of u. I'm pretty sure I found a way to fly as a bird, using wings in combination with RC components, old kite/windsurf gear and android driven smartphones.

I've been working on a concept for the last couple of years alongside my fulltime job. Now I took a sabbatical to fully focus on further designing and eventually built it.

I've just completed my 3D sketches (see my newest video on my website) of how the wings should function, and how I would be able to fly with them. Please give me some feedback & for now I need thoughts on how to make the tail!! So share!

You can follow me on twitter/facebook, my website or on this thread, where we can have discussions about my project.

grtz Jarno Smeets (The Netherlands)

http://www.humanbirdwings.net/

twitter: @jarnosmeets80

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#1

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 7:32 AM

Here is a recent one of the same design, you will probably find it interesting - quite fascinating. Modelled on a seagull, it flies by flapping the wings.

http://www.flixxy.com/airplane-flies-like-a-bird.htm

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 7:41 AM

Very cool!!

One has to wonder though..................is this design more efficient than a fixed wing and propellers?

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 8:24 AM

Hey Kramarat,

Good point, it absolutely isn't more efficient to fly with flapping wings than fly with a fixed wing. But's it's a lot more fun (I hope)!

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 11:07 AM

Keep us posted on your progress. It would be awesome to see it work!!

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 8:22 AM

THanks for the link, that's an impressive piece of techology (and also viral marketing) by Festo. I've seen this one flying at the Twente Ballooning Event in the Netherlands, mesmerizing.

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#14
In reply to #3

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/22/2011 3:33 AM

Hi Jarno,

Welcome to the community,

You are right on this piece of technologic art: Festo made a fantastic marketing stunt with this bird.

But not only it is marketing, it also shows a culture that is alive in this company: they are thinking on the long haul. This bird will at no moment in the next years bring in any money, only cost even more as they need to travel the world with it, build brothers and sisters.

But if you happen to find a contact person which could lead us into this firm to work on such projects, don't hesitate to share.

Regards,

Gwen

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#20
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Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/22/2011 8:06 PM

the bird was kinda cool... but the cat fight was awesome! (see darthcat in action)

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#21
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Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/23/2011 12:42 PM

Good fight, but what were those birds doing?

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#22
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Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/23/2011 2:43 PM

I don't know...neither one had a dog in the fight.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/23/2011 4:45 PM

I've experienced in the workplace... those birds are just co-workers.

some people just like to stir things up... drama lovers.

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#5

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 10:04 AM

Hi Mr. Jarno,

many of us have a dream to fly like a bird, what an wonderfull feeling it is!, i have a small suggession instead of wings you shall go for a air blower, for a compact and smart design,better control.

Mc Dar

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#11
In reply to #5

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 1:49 PM

Hey Chakradhar,

Thanks for thinking with me. It's not my purpose to build an efficient or compact flying device. My goal is to keep close to the dream of flying like a bird. This dream keeps me in its spell since I'm a little child and I would like to experience this feeling of getting lifted by flapping wings. With the right power addition (which I'm explaining in my design) we should be able to generate enough watts to generate this lift and forward thrust.

We'll see!

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#6

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 10:17 AM

US army using it for spying know?

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 10:23 AM

Yes.

Don't tell them I told you. Government agents are already following me.

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#13
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Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 11:32 PM

Sure, you make some little ornithopter hummingbird thingy that flies through a door/window and poops a few drops of nerve gas. Then a flyswatter destroys (or at least obscures) the evidence....

Should I file a provisional patent application (#8,079,343), or just let DARPA steal it first? Or should I copyright it before Tom Clancy uses it in some novel? Or just throw it on the mercy of the courts, the winds, and/or public domain? Or LynDoor Ordnance™?

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/22/2011 9:08 AM

Thanks for the plug Tornado!

We will be keeping our eye on this guy, that's for sure. We are always on the lookout for an innovative weapon delivery system.

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#8

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 10:53 AM

The 'Y' part of your 'DIY' birdwings may have a limited membership of eligible 'Do It Yourself' people. I have a vision of 'Tim the Tool Man Taylor' and his neverending series of catastrophic 'DIY' project failures.

Is there a practical application for this? I can see the enjoyment factor, and the do-it-because-I-can factor, and the do-it-because-everybody-says-it-can't-be-done factor...

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 1:37 PM

Haha. Yes Doorman, you might have a point there, and I'm not going to encourage 'Tim the Tool Man Taylor' to start building this device at home. So in that sense DIY might not be the right designation. But I'm inspired by the approach of other online DIY projects and will try to use the same widely available materials to reduce costs .There are so much high quality cheap electronics/mechanics available in webshops nowadays. This makes possibilities endless.

I like your suggestion to call it 'Do It Because Everybody Says It Can't Be Done', because ofcourse few people will believe me, until the contrary is proved.

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#12

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/21/2011 11:10 PM

Interesting project!

The Festo video seemed to show the wings with a combined up/down/extend/retract movement. I'm not sure, but I didn't notice any twist, which I think is present in bird wings.

Are you going for human-powered only, or including an engine drive?

Best of luck, and keep us posted.

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#15

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/22/2011 8:54 AM

Will you be entering this competition?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knKG-ZcHs-U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=kI7ujwuKwzE

A sure win if you can pull of the weight factor conversion...

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#16

Re: Building DIY Robotic Bird wings

09/22/2011 8:56 AM

Hi Jarno, Very good demo. (note! the rewarding applause!)

Imagine a windy day, with quite a strong directional head wind.

These two "small bird" matters have intrigued me for some time.

1. Seeing small (very light) birds seemingly fly (quite fast) into such head winds.
They travel forward (fly) as if there is no wind! They seem to be in normal flight?

2. How can such a small, light, object not be blown off course? (or out of the sky)

Compare this to our man made efforts of a plane / glider / helicopter etc, where
they are usually blown some way off course, and need a massive (relatively) power
source, etc. to make any persistent headway, let alone keep direction.

For 1. Could it be an extremely rapid "climb and dive" setting of the bird wings?
i.e. they "set" their wings for lift, and then to dive, to move forward in a series
of minuscule "waves" too small for the human eye? Or, is there an other way?

(As an involuntary action of the bird, like we breathe, and these are made so
fast so as to be indiscernible to us? I speculate?)

For 2. How can this object (bird) - which has no more weight than a ball of paper,
laughably, travel in it's specific chosen direction, and so readily against such winds?

I find these two points simply unbelievable! (Skill in minute flexing of the wings?)

If we could replicate the answer to these, we would be further on the way to
human flight, and likely far cheaper (than we have today) commercial flight?

Do you or your facility have an answer to these please?

jt. (intrigued)

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Building DIY Robotic Bird wings

09/22/2011 12:31 PM

Your observations are inaccurate, I fear.

1. Small birds cannot fly fast (over ground) into a headwind. It is a headwind that allows birds hover over a point. If you watch seagulls at the beach, you can see that their speed over ground goes up dramatically when they turn to put the wind behind them. When hovering or looking for food, they flap as aggressively as required to maintain a desired (near zero) speed over ground. When they turn and "peel off" the flap rate slows but their speed over ground goes way up.

Some shore birds are very adept at holding position without flapping -- a seeming impossibility. They appear to be flying like a kite, but without the string (without which a kite falls to the ground). This trick is only possible when the wind is angled upward, through thermals and/or ground terrain. The bird is then always diving through the apparent wind, but because the apparent wind is moving upward, the bird can hold a constant altitude above ground without flapping. The bird's dive provides the forward force vector to overcome wind drag.

2. Birds are the same as airplanes in this respect. A small airplane, when aloft in a crosswind (relative to its path across the ground) moves through the mass of air all around it. The plane experiences no crosswind. In other words, a telltale mounted outside the windshield (a "yaw string," which a few small planes and gliders have) will always stream straight back, unless the pilot is flying in uncoordinated flight.

"Crabbing" into the wind is only apparent when the plane is close to the ground, and even then, the telltale streams straight back (the plane is not crabbed relative to the wind, it is crabbed relative to the ground). (Only at the last instant in a crosswind landing will such a telltale take on a different angle, as the pilot flies in uncoordinated flight to align the plane's fuselage with the runway, by dropping the upwind wing, and applying opposite rudder.)

(The yaw string on a glider is used to avoid slip, to make sure the plane's fuselage is always perfectly aligned with the apparent wind, improving gliding efficiency. The only time when this string is not straight back is from pilot error, from deliberately flying the airplane in a slip to lose altitude, and just before touchdown in a crosswind landing. )

(In a small low-powered plane, the crab angle that one uses to fly a straight course to a destination can sometimes be seen in the shadow of the plane on the ground, if it is around noon and the sky is clear. This angle is in reference to the ground, not the air mass in which the plane flies.)

Gliders, with no power source at all, can fly in any attitude and any direction. The distance they can make across the ground from a launch depends on the overall updrafts encountered (and the L/D ratio of the glider). A high-performance sailplane can go about 60 miles in still air if launched one mile up. A skilled pilot, like a migrating bird, will seek out thermals and terrain updrafts, and can extend this distance dramatically. A friend of mine flew over 1000 miles from a single Jeep tow off a small mountain. No "massive (relatively) power source" is required to make headway. Gravity works fine.

This article, I'd hoped, would give the L/D ratio for a good bird (but does not). My guess is that an eagle has a ratio of about 20:1 (about 1/3 as good as a HP sailplane) but can fly at a much slower speed, meaning that updrafts have a more pronounced effect. Eagles are also masters at finding thermals -- probably better than the best glider pilots (and they can take advantage of much smaller thermals).

If we could replicate the answer to these, we would be further on the way to human flight, and likely far cheaper (than we have today) commercial flight?

I think not. There is nothing magical about how birds fly. Just as we can shape torpedoes that are more efficient through the water than fishes, we can shape airplanes that are more efficient than birds -- gliders being the most obvious case. Ornithopters can be (and have been) made, but there is nothing inherently more efficient about combining thrust and lift into a flapping wing, versus separating the two functions into a wing that provides lift and a propeller that provides thrust. By separating functions, both can be optimized, and the propulsion part can also be optimized to rotary power sources like engines (rather than reciprocating power sources like muscles). (Interesting that in nature there is no wheel and axle.)

It is unlikely that a car with walking legs instead of wheels would be more efficient than a standard car. Mimicking nature is not always a good approach to efficiency. A helicopter is not unlike an ornithopter, in that its (rotary) wings provide both lift and thrust. Helicopters are about 2/3 as efficient as fixed wing aircraft, even though they are simpler than a true ornithopter.

An ornithopter could be fun, and could (theoretically) be very maneuverable at low speeds. But it is unlikely that it would be efficient. I note that the author of this interesting and informative article agrees with my 20:1 guess re L/D of the best birds. That's about 1/3 as efficient as a glider. However, work continues on ortnithopters, and perhaps they will someday be an alternative to airplanes and helicopters.

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#24
In reply to #18

Re: Building DIY Robotic Bird wings

09/24/2011 1:29 PM

Your write up is very knowledgeable K-Fry. I only report what I have actually seen.

I have a limited experience of flying planes and heli's (myself) and did not refer to
the hover, stall, kite, crab, side-slip, etc. (which are all very true) only my personal
observation that very small birds do (seem to) fly against a head wind seemingly
with ease and with a complete disregard of it.

In the garden we consistently have many birds. These include owls, geese, herons,
kites, cormorants, sea gulls, swans, which all expressly do exploit the wind. Also,
many small birds, nuthatch, goldfinch, woodpecker, chaffinch, swallow, even sparrow!


i.e. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to view these birds and can confirm that
some of these smaller ones have (seem to) a complete disregard for the wind. (?)

There may be a simple explanation for this. "...nothing magical about how birds fly."
However, having watched them myself, (and held them in my hand) I still cannot
understand how a bird, with the weight of a small ball of paper, (!) can not only
so disregard the wind. (instead of being blown over the nearest fence!) but also fly in
a straight line into a head (or side) wind. Beats me, so I enquired if anyone knows?

jt.


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#19

Re: Building DIY Robotic Birdwings

09/22/2011 5:22 PM

Some additional footage and info on Festo Smartbird

http://yousaf.5gigs.net/blog/2011/04/04/festos-smartbird-which-actually-fly/

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Users who posted comments:

129CBRider (1); Anonymous Poster (1); AussieBob (2); Chakradhar.M (1); chrisg288 (2); Doorman (3); Gwen.Stouthuysen (1); Jarno (4); jt (2); K_Fry (1); kramarat (2); pauls_14 (1); thall (1); Tornado (2)

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