Steampunk wings: bigger, heavier, and steampunkier

This pair of backpack-mounted wings was conceived after seeing the Angel/Archangel character in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. They measure 14’6″ inches across, but they fold up so that the wearer can actually get around in them. The mechanism is built from MDF, using several layers of gears cut from the material as well as pieces that act as the skeleton for the appendages. This makes them look and work well, but adds a lot of weight as the project comes in at about 25 pounds.

The steampunk wings we saw a few days back were partly inspired by this set. But this pair is more true to the Steampunk concept, relying on pneumatics instead of electricity for motion. A pair of pneumatic rams originally made to cushion the closing of screen doors let the wearer automatically extend the unit. As you can see in the video after the break, this happens quickly and gracefully. They do have to be folded back up by hand, and we’d bet you need a second person to assist with this, but we could be wrong.

17 thoughts on “Steampunk wings: bigger, heavier, and steampunkier

  1. Not sure what all the fuss is lately with wings – Yours are cool, don’t get me wrong – But I like the ones posted the other day – They may be slower, but they open AND close automatically.. Shame you couldn’t get something like that going on these, IMO, Still though, great job, look great and open quick!

  2. I’d bet that a cable-pull between the main spars to refold the wings, attached at the points that the demonstrator is doing it by hand would make retraction a fairly simple matter by lifting it straight up.

  3. Very cool! I like the design a lot, especially the way the whole unit appears from behind with the giant gears.

    Why MDF? Something like Baltic Birch plywood would be lighter (a lot lighter) and stronger, and just as easy to work with. More expensive, I suppose, which is probably why.

    Props, these are awesome.

  4. Very nice. Like Shou said, it looks like there are significant opportunities for lightening, with some tradeoffs in price and ease of construction. Alas, probably not enough to make them flyable :-)
    Great job on the Fabric part too; I think that side tends to get under-appreciated.

    1. They wouldn’t by flyable anyhow…just look at the shape; you would be lucky if they caught enough air to put you into a spin as you fall to your doom. They are meant to look neat…and they do.

      I do think they need different wood though; MDF isn’t very “Steam Punk”. Actually, since they can’t fly anyway, the gears should be brass…looks way cooler.

      This makes me want to see a quad-copter powered by steam!

  5. W00T, I made Hack A Day! (I built these wings.) I appreciate all the comments. Yes, I know they would be cooler if they closed too, weighed less, etc. I thought about all those things, but I was laid off at the time I built them, and only had about a week to make them, so I was limited in how much time or money I could spend.

    1. It’s a pretty simple $1 solution… there are two eye hooks in one wing-arm, and one eye hook in the other. When the wings are closed, the single eye hook lines up between the two from the other arm, and you push the grenade-like pin through all three eye hooks. To open, you just pull the pin out!

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