DRAGONFLY HELICOPTER KIT STORE
Human/rubber band-powered model flight--no batteries! 50 cents per project (Eco-Emirical Class Pack).
Back to the Dragonfly Helicopter Introduction Page
Dragonfly Helicopter kits are a great first flight project and they fly spectacularly well.
My goal is to spread this great science STEM activity by
providing the highest quality and lowest prices
for both small quantities and
large. As you consider what to get, you can look at the detailed building instructions to see exactly what you're getting into and I (Slater) am
happy to answer any questions by e-mail or phone.
There are 2 kinds of Dragonfly helicopter: The Easy Dragonfly includes a commercial plastic propeller which is best for young kids and big events because it's fast and easy to make. The Eco-Empirical Dragonfly takes more work. You make a really good adjustable-pitch propeller out of a recycled 2-liter drink bottle and it goes much higher--way above the tallest trees. It is great for experimenting.
Click on pictures below for full description.
|$18 3 Ready-to-Fly Eco-Empirical Helicopters. More...||$7.50(includes postage) 4 Kits Eco-Emperical Envelope. More...|
|$29 35 EASY Dragonfly Class Pack (faster/easier). More...||$6 (includes postage) Rubber band for 10 Helicopters. More...||Not helicopters, but walkalong gliders are another great, engaging, low-cost flight project. How do they fly?|
Notes About Ordering: A NOTE ABOUT PAYPAL/PAYMENT: Clicking on a PayPal button takes you to a secure PayPal cart page. I use embedded PayPal buttons for customer convenience and security. Security has been perfect. Clicking on a button takes you to a secure cart page. Convenience has been mostly so. Occasionally, however, people are not able to complete transactions and it's frustrating because PayPal does not automatically explain why. You can contact PayPal directly and ask. So, for example, a gentleman from Singapore could not complete an order. He contacted PayPal in Singapore and learned that by law one cannot send money via P.P. to a non-profit outside of the country (proceeds from these foam glider sales go directly to the non-profit education organization, the Physics Factory). Another person inside the United States could not complete an order and found that to use a credit card associated with an existing PayPal account, that she must sign into PayPal to complete the transaction.
In any case, please also feel free to contact me, Slater, to figure out a workaround that works best for you; we can arrange payment by invoice, purchase order, check (must be made out to Physics Factory), etc.
$17.50 Eco-Empirical Class Pack (kits for 35 helicopters).
Highest-flying helicopters at 50 cents per project
This kit for 35 copters supplies the essential high quality rubber bands (and and some extras) plus all the parts for low-friction, adjustable hubs. You supply a couple of 2-liter bottles for the propellers, and straws or recycled foam trays for the body. You will also need scissors, tape, a hot glue gun (the small, cheap cooler and safer 10 watt kind), tack and needle-nose pliers.
See what's involved--complete video and text instructions here.
U.S. customers: $17.50 USD + $4 flat-rate shipping (still just $4 even for multiple orders).
International customers: $17.50 USD + $13.50 shipping $13.50 is our actual minimum cost that we pay for postage up to 8 ounces (227 grams). This is the least expensive shipping method and IT IS SLOW! More about international postage--delivery time, faster delivery, cost, etc.--is here. If possible, please provide a telephone number in the PayPal page for if there is a delivery problem.
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$18 Three Ready-to-Fly Eco-Empirical Helicopters
Ready to fly right out of the box
Ok, you still have to wind them, but otherwise ready to go. If you just don't have the time to make them, these heicopters are crafted by the science toy maker and all set to go. Each Dragonfly comes with an extra rubber band and wing. Contact me about bulk prices.
U.S. customers: $18 USD + $4 flat-rate shipping (still just $4 even for multiple orders).
International customers: $18 USD + $13.50 for international shipping.
By default we use the least expensive shipping method and IT IS SLOW! More about international postage--delivery time, faster delivery, cost, etc.--is here. If possible, please provide a telephone number in the PayPal page for if there is a delivery problem.
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$7.50(includes postage) Eco-Emperical Envelope (kit for 4 helicopters).
For young scientists in your life
This kit for 4 copters, sent in an envelope, supplies the essential high quality rubber bands (and an extra) plus all the parts for low-friction, adjustable hubs. You supply a 2-liter bottle for the propellers, and straws or recycled foam trays for the body. You will also need scissors, tape, a hot glue gun (the small, cheap cooler and safer 10 watt kind), push tack and needle-nose pliers (single edge razor optional). See what's involved--complete video and text instructions here.
In tests, when sending everything in one envelope, the hardware got pressed into the foam wings--still functional, but ugly indentations. Now we are experimenting with sending the wings in a separate envelope. Please let us know wing condition of arrival! More about Eco-Empirical Dragonfly Helicopters...
U.S. customers: $7.50 USD which includes postage. We are experimenting with splitting the contents for sending, so you might get two envelopes. Please send feedback about what condition the wings arrived in.
International customers: I have to send the order in 2 separate envelopes because, as a single envelope they are too thick to send internationally. The cost for international envelopes is therefore $9.50 USD, all postage included. Please send feedback about what condition the foam wings arrive in.
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$29 Easy Dragonfly Helicopter Class Pack (faster/easier, kit for 35 helicopters)
Fastest, easiest to make
This kit for 35 copters supplies the essential high quality rubber band (and extra) plus propellers and bodies. You supply (recycled?) foam plates or takeout containers for the wings; or printer paper (1/4 sheet for each project) if foam is not available. You will also need scissors and tape.
See what's involved--complete video and text instructions here.
U.S. customers: $29 USD + $4 flat-rate shipping (still $4 even if you order more than one box).
International customers: $29 USD + $13.50 flat-rate shipping $13.50 is our actual cost that we pay for postage up to 8 ounces (227 grams). This is the least expensive shipping method and IT IS SLOW! More about international postage--delivery time, faster delivery, cost, etc.--is here. If possible, please provide a telephone number in the PayPal page for if there is a delivery problem.
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$6 (includes postage) Rubber band for 10 Helicopters
Best price for Super Sport in small amounts
There is a dramatic difference between regular office/school rubber bands and the rubber that's made for flying models. I provide some extra in the kits, but it's good to have plenty handy. It lasts for years if stored in a dry place away from UV light.
We do not sell large packages of rubber because FAI Model Supply does a great job of that. Buy bulk quantities from them (they sell by the pound). However, their minimum postage charge is $8.75, which makes small quantities from FAI very expensive. So we have stepped in the niche of supplying small amounts of rubber for significantly less than even just their minimum postage.
U.S. customers: $6 USD includes postage
International customers: $7 USD includes postage
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More About Eco-Empirical Dragonfly Helicopters:
I made lots of flying model airplanes in my youth, but I did not think that it was possible to make my own propellers. So it’s very empowering for young people make propellers from humble discarded bottles; then discover that they are far lighter and better than commercial propellers.
I think wind-up helicopters are the best first-flight project—even better than balsa stick and tissue planes (which are a great second project). With balsa/tissue planes, a very slight warp can cause major headaches. But helicopters are always flight stable and reliable flyers. There are few joys so sweet as launching the machine you’ve completely created with your hands and mind! You feed your creation with a transfer of your own human energy and it explores the magic space above the tallest trees.
You can also fly inside. It chatters harmlessly against the ceiling, trying to reach the sky.
It is named “Eco” because it uses a recycled 2-liter drink bottle for the propeller; and a recycled foam tray or take-out package for the fuselage (body). Foam packaging is not available in some regions, so you can also use plastic straws or other things for the fuselage. The foam wings we include are made from recycled material.
It is named “Empirical” because the design has unlimited potential for experimenting to get even better flight times. I can only begin to list all the experiments you can do, but here are some categories (and I have not thoroughly explored all of them; perhaps you will make a breakthrough that improves the design): What happens when you twist the prop blades for more angle? Less angle? What happens when you make the propeller blades longer? Shorter? Fatter? Thinner? What happens if you use a smaller diameter bottle (so it has more curve [called camber])? What happens if you use just a flat propeller with no curve? Can you make propellers out of foam?
Can you improve the payload paper glider design? Improve the release mechanism? How can you store more power in the rubber band? Is there a better lubricant than baby shampoo on the rubber band (do not use oil or grease—it attacks the rubber)? Can you turn the helicopter into an airplane (this is more difficult than it might seem)? Can you design the wings (length, width, bending, material) to be better?
These are just ideas that I would like to experiment with if I had more time. And it is very common for experiments to suggest even more experiments! I am starting a page for people to show what innovations they come up with and credit them. If you invent a better helicopter, please share it with the world!
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More About the Easy Dragonfly Helicopter
I developed this helicopter design to be fast and easy, using an inexpensive commercial injection-molded propeller. It was an honor to be invited to make the Easy Dragonfly project with 2nd grade classes (which you can see at the beginning and end of the video). It was actually 2 classes in one room. Their teachers and some adult volunteers helped and I am grateful for their assistance (and they had a blast, too)!
I also made this project with kids at a huge public science event with thousands of people milling around various exhibits. For each batch I worked with as many kids could fit at the table and see. Having a helper and asking parents to assist really helped things along. Then the kids flew their helicopters all around the venue, becoming kinetic, flying advertisements. Soon we had throngs of people waiting in line. Hundreds of kids made helicopters and we stopped, sadly, only because we ran out of materials.
You really do have to alert kids about winding sufficiently. I have sort of a comedic routine. I tell them that I can predict the future—that some of them will come to me and say the helicopter does NOT work. I predict that I will ask if they wound it enough. I predict that they will say “yes”. I predict that I will magically make it work just by winding it more. I really ham this routine up for laughs—and of course there are a few kids who still do not wind up enough and my prediction comes true! Nobody knows how much to wind at first; but even young kids learn very quickly. One kid will get higher flight than everyone else. So the other kids will watch that kid and see that the secret is indeed winding. Soon everybody is getting good flights.
TROUBLESHOOTING: Beside not winding enough, the most likely thing that can go wrong is if the propeller gets very banged up so that it does not spin freely. A bit of soap or shampoo or something in the hub can help. If it still does not work, inspect the hub to see what is rubbing. That might involve bending the metal wire shaft so it is straight again. If you cannot solve the problem, contact me and we’ll figure out how to fix it. That goes for any problem you are having.
I like all feedback. If you have any pictures of video of your event, I am happy to share them with the world. I am starting a sharing page.