Make the Baby Bug Instructions and Video
Click here for the video that goes with the text.
If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube link.
The Baby Bugs requres front weight. All about front weight here.
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Baby Bug Ben Bug (from scrap)

The Baby Bug is a good beginning design and very efficient flying.

The Ben Bug and Tri Bugs are linked to Baby Bug because they are made from scrap from the Baby Bug.

Quick links:
Simple Baby Bug pattern for A4 printer paper. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Simple Baby Bug with Vertical Wingtips pattern for A4 printer paper. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Simple Baby Bug pattern X 2 for 8 ½” by 11” printer paper. Two patterns per page. NOT FOR A4. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Instructions for Tri Bug and Ben Bug (made from Baby Bug foam scraps).

Buy foam for this project or DIY

The Baby Bugs requres front weight. All about front weight here.
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Back to sciencetoymaker main page.

Numbers in parentheses (1) correspond to the numbers in the corner of the accompanying video.

Hi it's Slater, AKA sciencetoymaker. This video and its linked text page are about making the Baby Bug foam walkalong glider which can be surfed on a wave of air. The Baby Bug is a good first glider. It's also very efficient flying for advanced operations like hands-only flying. And the waste from cutting out the Baby Bug can be used to make two more quick and easy gliders.

 

GET STARTED

(2) You'll need a sheet of thin, half millimeter EPS foam, which you can make yourself or buy inexpensively, both linked below. (3) Paper does not work for this design.

(4) Print out the Simple Baby Bug pattern, linked below. No scaling.

(5) Rough cut out the pattern. Save the rest

(6) At 3 corners find the tiny dotted lines and cut on them. Cutting close at the corners helps you fit the pattern on the foam.

Handle the foam very gently. (7) Put the pattern on the foam so the front tip is right on the edge. The two ends are the same distance from the edges.

(8) I'm coloring the tape only so it shows on camera. When all the inside of the pattern is fitted on the foam, tape the ends. Do NOT fold the tape over to the other side.

(9) In the next step do not cut the tape off. Cut the long solid black lines in the front (10) and back lines. (11) Cut the short line in front.

 

A GOOD WARMUP

(12) Don't throw away the scraps of foam!

You can turn scrap foam into simple little gliders, perhaps now, as a warm-up by making the Tri bug or Ben Bug.

FOLD CAMBER, DIHEDRAL AND ELEVONS

(13) The camber folds in front increase the efficiency of the wing. You will need to push firmly--right at the corner of the book--so a crease is clearly visible.On the simple Baby Bug there is just one camber fold for each half. The advanced Baby Bug has a more complex curve, at slightly higher efficiency, but it's more difficult to make correctly.

(14) Put the foam and pattern under the cover of a paperback book so the dashed camber lines just barely peek out. (15 ) Fold DOWN, pushing firmly right at the corner. Do the same to the other side. (16) It doesn't have to be folded very much, but a distinct fold line must be visible on the bottom. (17) You'll adjust the exact angle with a gage, later.

(18) To create dihedral, bend UP this time in the middle of the glider on the dashed lines. Be careful because you are touching the foam directly, without paper to protect it. (19) Dihedral helps keep the glider stable from tipping.

(20) In the back of the glider the elevons go up, Be careful again here. It doesn't take much to wreck the foam. Elevons stabilize the glider's pitch, keeping it from diving. The elevons will be adjusted later with a gage.

 

CUT OFF PATTERN AND ADD FRONT WEIGHT

(21) When you're sure you've made all 5 folds distinctly, carefully cut on the black, solid lines at the end. This will release the pattern from the foam. You can reuse the pattern.

(If no wire, skip to 3:30)

(22) Walkalong gliders need a little bit of weight in the front, to keep from stalling. You could use just about anything for front weight. We'll cover thin wire and paper. If your foam came with copper wire, cut about 155 mm or 6 inches. (23) Bend it in half like a "V". (24) Cut off a tiny piece of tape and stick it on the angle of the wire. Stick the tape to the top, front of the glider. It's best to place it back past the little cut so the front camber flap can be adjusted.

(if you have wire weight skip to 3:40 )

(25) If your foam did not have wire, cut out this long piece on the pattern page. Tape the wide end on with a tiny piece of tape.

 

CHECK ANGLES

(26) The angle gage on your pattern page works for all the folds. Check the front camber and see if it matches the gage. If not, correct it, but it looks good here. Check the other side, too. (27) Flatten out the camber just a little on each end of the wing for best stability (to avoid tip stall).

(28) Use the same gage to check the dihedral. The dihedral can be a little flatter than the gage angle and still be ok.

(29) Use the gage to check the elevons. You can check from either side.

LAUNCH AND ADJUST

(30) If you launch your glider now --between thumb and finger from the back, gently pushing ahead, not pointed up--(31) it might glide perfectly. (32) But more likely it will stall, (33) dive or (34) turn instead of going straight. With a little practice, you'll learn how to adjust for a perfect glide. Model airplane builders call adjusting "trimming". Pitch adjustment, which fixes diving or stalling, is done mostly with the front weight. Airplane people call it "shifting the center of gravity".

(35) If your glider dives when you launch--and the back elevons are at the correct angle--it means there is too much weight in front. I used to cut off weight, but then I discovered I could just bend the weight more backward. So bending the wires back more has the same effect as cutting off front weight.

(36) If paper is your weight, there's an old trick that allows you to curl paper over an edge. I'm using the back of scissors.

(37) Opposite of diving, if your glider stalls, it means you need more weight in front. Again, you can just bend the wire forward or straighten part of the paper. (38) This works because of leverage. (39) I'm not adding any more weight to this ruler, but moving the coin outward creates enough leverage to tip it off the table.

(40) Adjust the front weight to where there is no stall, or just a little.

(41) If it turns every time in the same direction, you can straighten the glide by bending the OPPOSITE elevon UP--just a little. (42) That could make the glider stall again, so you might have to readjust the front weight.

 

LEARNING TO FLY

(43) There's a separate video just about keeping the gliders up, linked below, but here're basics. (Video not completed, coming soon)

As you start flying you'll need something to deflect air upward: cardboard, a pizza box or cereal box, even a large book. My favorite for a big, lightweight and durable board is the plastic kind of election sign.

(44) Eventually you might learn to keep it up with only your hands or head, but start out with a board.

(45) You might want to take off from the board, tipping as you start walking.

(46) Never let the glider get low on the board, and never let the glider get ahead. (47) It should always be on the verge of blowing over the top. (48) Here I'm doing everything wrong. I launch low, the glider gets too far ahead and it's low on the board. (49) But here I launch high, at eye level, and I never let the glider get ahead of me. It's flying high over the board.

(50) Look what happens when I tilt the board back. There's not enough air deflected, so the glider lands. So, keep the board more like a wall, not a floor, unless you want to land.

(51) You steer the glider by pushing it in the right direction with the board. Following where it goes doesn't work.

(52) The air you fly in needs to be very still. If you fly near other people, the glider will be thrown around by turbulent air. Nice recovery! (53) Outside is rarely still enough to fly, unless it's dead calm.

 

ADVANCED BABY BUGS

(54) Decorating is OK, but save it until after you can fly because if you push down too much on the markers, then you'll crush the foam.

(55) If you want to be able to make really tight turns--such as flying inside a house--you might want to add vertical fins to your glider. You can cut a little at the elevon line, and fold the end parallel to the edge, on both sides. (56) There's also a pattern for the vertical fins as you make the glider.

(57) Flying with hands takes lots of practice. Try different hand positions. The sweet spot is staying exactly under the back edge. It's also possible to fly with one arm.

(58) There's a Baby Bug pattern with a gentler curve that might be more efficient. The trick is to bend hard at the front--where it's hard to bend. Then bend less hard as you work to the other lines--where it's easy to bend. (59) A gage from the end of the elevon fold to the front helps you get a good airfoil. If you experiment with airfoils, you're into some very advanced aerodynamics.

(60) Of course, the most advanced thing you can do is spread the fun. Teach other people how to fly.

If this video was helpful, make a comment or send an e-mail. It's encouraging to me to know of your success.

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