Make the Mama Bug: Instructions and Video
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Simple Mama Bug pattern for A4. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc. Page 1 and Page 2.
Simple Mama Bug pattern, fit onto 1 page, for 8 12 by 11 only. NOT FOR A4 PAPER. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Simple Mama Bug pattern with vertical wigntips for A4. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc. Page 1 and Page 2.
Simple Mama Bug pattern with vertical wingtips, fit onto 1 page, for 8 12 by 11 only. NOT FOR A4 PAPER. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Advanced Mama Bug pattern (I don't know yet if it will fit onto A4 without reducing the size. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Buy foam for this project or DIY Note: The smaller gliders use .5 mm foam. Bu,t with its larger span, the Mama Bug works best with .65 mm foam or else can be a bit floppy. There is a workaround, see (13).
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Numbers in parentheses (1) correspond to the numbers in the corner of the accompanying video.
(1) Hi it’s Slater, AKA sciencetoymaker. This video is about how to make the large Mama Bug air surf glider. Mama Bugs are noticeably more efficient flying than the smaller gliders, just as in nature large-winged birds soar almost effortlessly. Smaller birds and insects do not glide well.
(2) Paradoxically, Mama Bugs are superior for both beginning and advanced flying. Their efficiency makes them the best design for hands-only flying. Students who engage in aerial combat—AKA dogfighting—prefer the Mama Bug because it stays in the air so long. And yet it’s a good glider to start beginners with because the slow flight gives them plenty of time to react.
That said, Mama Bugs need two pieces of foam and some people might find taping the wings together challenging. But if you have already made a Baby Bug, the Mama is quite similar.
(3) Print out the Mama Bug pattern, NO SCALING. The thin .5 mm foam that works so well for the smaller gliders is a bit flimsy for the giant Mama Bug. I suggest using the .65 mm foam that you can make or buy
(4) Rough-cut out the pattern. Cut right to the corner where it says “cut close.” Put that corner exactly on a corner of foam sheet. Pivot at that corner until you fit the pattern on the foam.
Tape the ends. Fine-cut the front and back, the long sides. Do not cut off the tape until all folds are made.
(5) Put into a paperback book under the front cover with the dashed lines just peeking out. Fold down, pretty firmly against the corner to establish the fold. Don’t go beyond where it says “stop”. Reposition and fold the elevon up against the cover.
With both folds established, cut the ends with the tape. Cut on the straight line very carefully because that’s where it will join the other wing.
(6) Tape with clear tape. Put the wings together and stick a 5 cm piece on top, lengthwise, starting behind the camber so you can adjust later. Stick another shorter piece on further back.
(7) It’s a bit flimsy now but taping the bottom is tricky because we’re going to make the dihedral then. Fold the top surfaces together. Put half the tape on one wing half. The other half should stick out.
With the wing upside-down put the not-yet-taped half at the edge of a table. The other wing half bends down a little—off the edge. With a little bend in the wing, push the tape down on the other half. That’s your dihedral. If it didn’t tape at the correct angle, you can still bend it at the joint.
(8) Adjust the angles that you bent in earlier. The back angle should be 45 degrees up from horizontal, checked with the elevon gage. You can check above or below. Make sure the foam is not just springing back.
There is a different gage for the front camber. There is a bit less camber bend at the wing tips.
(9) I provide a little bit of wire with the thicker foam I send out, only to get you started. Cut about 20 cm for the front weight. Thin utility wire or floral wire works well for front weight. I bend the end so it doesn’t poke someone in the eye. You can also use paper strips for weight. You should know from adjusting the Baby Bug that if the glider dives, bend the wire back more and/or cut off weight. If it stalls, bend the wire forward and/or add weight. Correct turning by bending the opposite elevon up more.
(10) If you are only flying straight, the glider is finished. But if you need to turn, adding vertical wing tips will improve turning greatly. Mark 12 mm from the end of the wing. Cut for 12 mm on the elevon fold. Use a straightedge to bend the wing—but not the elevon—up 90 degrees.
If the vertical tip gets in the way of adjusting the elevon, cut off the back corner. There is also a pattern with the vertical tip worked in. Page 1 and Page 2.
(11) So far we’ve been talking about a Mama Bug with a simple single front camber fold. But if you want slightly more efficiency, there’s a pattern with 5 folds for a smoother curve. The secret is to bend very hard on the dotted lines when only a little is sticking out, so it’s difficult to bend. Then, at the dashed lines more is sticking out, so it’s easier to bend. But there you need to bend more gently.
(12) There is a gage to help you get a good curve, either from above or from below. The gage is designed to measure the curve from the elevon to the front, as indicated by the line on the pattern. There is a little less curve at the wing tips.
(13) I don’t mind gliders that are a bit floppy, but if it’s too floppy you can make them more rigid by taping wing spars at the camber folds. A very thin piece of balsa, bamboo or even thin toothpicks work. I’ll show you how to do it with a plastic drinking straw since they are so common. Cut about 11 cm of straw lengthwise in half. Then cut it again to 1/4. The straw slice goes on the underside of the wing right at the camber fold. The end goes right to the seam. 3 small pieces of tape hold each straw piece down. It might not be necessary but a bit of glue where the spars meet will make it even more rigid. With the extra weight from the wing strut you might be able to cut off some front weight..
(14) There’s another video about hands-only flying and aerial combat