Japanese Micro Planes

Some very well engineered micro planes(translated) have been buzzing around the net. The goal here is ultra light weight. These suped-up paper planes have a remarkable target weight of around 10 grams (translated). The lighter the micro plane is the slower and more maneuverable it will be leading to some pretty interesting and scary applications. For controls it looks like many of the planes are using infrared receivers/transmitters (much like you would find in a TV remote hint hint). Getting the lightest plane possible has forced the designers to come up with some pretty ingenious tricks. For example, instead of using packaged servos they use a coil of wire wrapped around a rare earth magnet to control the flaps. You can see these home made “servos” in action after the break.

Some have taken a more classic approach and used rubber band power instead of a li-po/motor combo.

[via Make]

Comments

  1. Nathan Zadoks says:

    Those aren’t servos, they are galvos (galvanometers)
    Servos are a DC motor with feedback.
    Galvos are what analog multimeters use, except without a needle attached. They’re very accurate, lightning-fast (they’re also used for laser shows/projectors) and can run open-loop. Oh, and did I mention that they’re damn easy to make?

    –Nathan

  2. mike says:

    Science Olympiad has had something like this as an event for almost 6 years now. For the last 3 years, they have had an ornithopter competition, which are supposed to be rubber band powered, they’re almost identical to the rubber band-powered one you liked to.

    Before that it was traditional prop planes, powered by rubber bands. They had a weight limit, I don’t remember it off-hand, but I believe it was around 5-10g, and then they limit you to another 30g of rubber to power the plane. There were competitors that could have those planes flying for more than 10 minutes under those circumstances. I don’t know much about the ornithopters, because that was after my time in Science Olympiad.

    The third image on the first link is of a rubber stripper, which cuts thin strips off of a rubber band, to make it lighter, so you can have a longer band for competition. We used one on my Science Olympiad team.

    Nevertheless, it’s impressive that they’re able to build such small electric planes that light.

  3. Those “hacked servos” is as stated earlier, not even servos, and it’s not even new… I have seen them a lot in cheap “electric birds” … (you know, the toy paper birds which are radiocontrolled)

  4. scootn405 says:

    Razorconcepts “Buy a micro for $100″. wtf are you doing here if this is your solution. I could make my own with used kids toys for probably less the $10. I’m thinking the micro RC cars that charge on the remote could easily be adapted, i’m sure there are a ton of these floating around.

  5. kaydee says:

    Those “hacked” servos are called solenoids. You might remember them from physics when you calculated the field strength inside a infinitely long solenoid. However, it is still an ingenious and cheap engineering solution.

  6. psuedonymous says:

    Love the ducted-fan-mouth shark. The witch on a broomstick using an enlarged hat brim as an airfoil was new to me, pretty inventive.

  7. MRE says:

    I had a chance to meet and talk with these guys at last year’s Tokyo MAKE. Your post really doesn’t do it justice.
    I’ll have to dig up my photos and put them online.
    A few points I found impressive:
    All were powered by custom micro lipo cells. Their receiver boards were again custom, and were about the size of 1/4 a postage stamp. Thats right.the entire pcb was smaller than a typical tqfp. The board handled prop motor control (on off. No throttle that I know of) and three channels of control surface. Some planes made use of the third channel to twist the wings, but most just had tail control.
    One ornothopter had a wing flapping gear system that may have been hand machined.
    Most impressive fliers were the witch on a broom and the wooden warship.

  8. KayDat says:

    Just reading the title, one might be mislead into thinking HAD was reviewing Japanese Kitchen Zesters (i.e. Microplanes)

  9. Fallen says:

    Holy shit they carved their own props on that one plane.

  10. MRE says:

    Try this

    http://picasaweb.google.com/112239751304644835134/TokyoMAKE

    Sorry, just got the phone and hadnt figured out macro mode at the time.
    And yes, that is a girl dressed as the Harabusa asteroid probe.

  11. Filespace says:

    holy crap the last photo in that google album… why on earth would anyone need a proto board that damn big?

  12. Brandano says:

    I guess you are not aquainted with the achievements of the micro rc scene: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=961876
    in order to manage weights under the half gram they cut down li-poly cells in a controlled atmosphere, with non conductive tools.

  13. Cyberteque says:

    youtub/user/tyoukogatalabo are the Zen Masters of light slow flight!

    They always look like they are having a ball!

    If you have a YouTube account, subscribe!
    They post video of their fly-ins and they are always so cool to watch!

  14. MRE says:

    @filespace I wondered the sme thing.
    But imagine it on your wall, with a retro computer build on it.

    Or a hackerspace colab project… like a word chain game… everyone takes a space and builds a random circuit. Then try to interconnect them all.

  15. jeditalian says:

    i’ve always wanted to do something like this with cellphone motors, but idk where to get those magic weightless invisible batteries they’re using. beaming electricity to it would be cool tho. what are they using, zero-point-energy?

  16. bactisme says:

    Hello,

    I am living in Tokyo and I am actually looking for RC model (indoor) club in Tokyo.

    Do somebody have adresses or internet website?

  17. soopergooman says:

    looks like havoc heli electronics on it, for the control. as for aileron mechanisms, my guess would be wire tubes with magnet wire and tiny neo mags in there… apply small alternating currents gets your direction worked out.

  18. soopergooman says:

    made mini hovercrafts the same way, Years ago….

  19. WestfW says:

    As Brandano implied, this isn’t so much something new and exciting, as a rather well-established sub-genre of model airplanes that you just hadn’t noticed. The early impressive models had transistor-based radio receivers and motors powered by compressed CO2. ICs and LiPoly batteries have resulted in a near-revolution; “consumer” grade planes are available off the shelf, and world records are under 1g total weight.

    http://www.rcgroups.com/indoor-and-micro-models-85/

    (although, perhaps this sort of thing involves too much skill to be considered a “hack.” I always considered “hacks” to be things that were clever but relatively easily reproducible.)

    hack-wise, I particularly like the idea of shaving off the “unimportant” part of “heavy” electronics components like the typical IR RC receiver:

    http://www.oyajin.jp/~toko/pic/0071/index.html

  20. strider_mt2k says:

    @ scootn405: It was a spammer dude. Stand down.

  21. pRtkL xLr8r says:

    Instead of servos or solenoids, isn’t there some special kind of wire where you can put a current though it and it changes shape? Or does it react too slowly?

  22. Brandano says:

    There are servos based on memory shape alloys, but they are slow, imprecise and use up too much current. Another possible candidate for miniaturized actuators would be piezoelectric plastics of the same type used in some mems devices

  23. jeditalian says:

    pRtkL xLr8r is talking about Nitinol: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_titanium

  24. jeditalian says:

    well maybe not but that and bimetallic strips were the first things to come to mind

  25. kasun says:

    what motor does use for this aircraft????

  26. I like this one: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=961876

    Only 225 mg, including battery, motor, gearbox, receiver, actuator, airframe, propeller, etc. (with plans to make it even lighter). ;-)

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