Make the SpinnyBug Instructions and Video
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IMPORTANT NOTE: I have started using a new, lower-density foam. The only bad thin about the low-density foam is that it does not work for the Spinny Bug. There is not enough momentum. The only workaround is to make a much smaller Spinny Bug.

Spinny Bug

Important Note: I have switched to a new, very low-density foam. Because the new foam has less mass, it does not have enough momentum to keep spinning. It does work if you make very small Spinny Bugs (I will make some instructions soon). I do still still sell some of the heavier foam for people who want to make large Spinny Bug gliders.

Quick Links
Spinny Bug pattern for A4 paper. Works on all printers. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Spinny Bug double pattern for 8 1/2 by 11 paper. NOT FOR A4. DO NOT scale, fit-to page, adaption, etc.
Buy foam for this project or DIY
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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 Spinny Bug foam walkalong glider which can be surfed on a wave of air. The Spinny Bug is a good first glider. It's easy to make, a bit tricky to launch. It flies very slowly--good for crowded flying in a house. You'll get two gliders out of each sheet of foam.


(2) You'll need a sheet of thin, half millimeter EPS foam, which you can make yourself or buy inexpensively, both linked below. Each sheet will make two gliders. There is a paper version that uses a different pattern, linked as the Big Mouth glider, below. This foam version is lighter and slower flying.

(3) Print out the Spinny Bug pattern, linked below. No scaling.

(4) Cut exactly on the outer edge of the solid black outside lines.

 (5) Put the pattern on the foam. The long sides should line up exactly. On the short sides there should be and equal amount of foam sticking out each end.

 (6) I'm coloring the tape only so it shows up on camera. Tape the pattern to the foam so each of the 4 strips has some tape on each end. Do not fold the tape over to the other side.

(7) Cut exactly down the middle. Each half makes one glider. Cut again through the middle of one, so there are two strips. (8) Cut on the black solid lines on each end, which will separate the paper from the foam.

(9) Line up the ends of a strip of foam and fold exactly in the middle, like a "V". Repeat with the other.

(10) Push the double ends together and use a small piece to tape one side. Flip it over and tape the other side.

(11) When you put it on the table like this, the top should be about as high as a pattern is wide. Here it's not high enough, If it's too low like this, the glider slips sideway uncontrollably. If it's too thin, stretch it out, gently.

(12) Here it's too high. If it's too fat like this, the glider is inefficient, difficult to keep up. If it's too fat, press on the ends a little to squish it narrower.


(13) When launching, the glider should glide away from you, not toward. You need to start it in the right direction by swinging the bottom away from you. It's not like a wheel, where the top goes in the same direction of travel. This rotates differently, with the front flipping up and back.(14) It can get caught on your fingers as you try to launch. You can also launch it like this.

(15) Be careful not to unconsciously tip the Spinny Bug, because it will go that way.

(16) There's a separate video just about keeping the gliders up, linked below

(not finished yet, check back)

Briefly, here's what to aim for

You'll need something to deflect the air: cardboard, a pizza box, cereal box, even a big book. My favorite big, lightweight, durable boards are the recycled plastic kind of election sign.

(17) Never let the glider get low on the board, and never let the glider get ahead of you. It should always be on the verge of blowing over the top.

(18) Here I'm doing everything wrong. I launch low, the glider is just a little too far ahead, and it drifts down to my knees. (19) Then I wise up, getting close to the glider and keeping it high on the board, and it goes up.

(20) If the glider always goes down slowly, try this. M ake it blow over the top a few times. Then keep it just short of blowing over.

(21) To deflect the upward wave of air, make sure you hold the glider almost vertically up. If you don't, there's not enough lift. So, keep the board more like a wall, not a floor, unless you want to land.

(22) You steer the glider by pushing it in the right direction with the board. There's a lag time, so you have to be patient, and your movements have to be smooth. Following where it goes will not work.

(23) The air needs to be very still. If you fly near other people, the glider will be thrown around by turbulent air. Outside is rarely still enough to fly. Nice recovery!



I cannot keep the Spinny Bug up in the air with just my hands the way I can with other gliders. (24) But recently I've discovered that on a good day I can barely keep it up with two arms.

(25) My daughter likes to experiment and she's persistent. What else can we do with spinning gliders.

(26) Of course, the most advanced flying is teaching other people how to fly.

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

By the way, does this Fanwing plane look sort of familiar?