After the kitty kite, the dinosaur drone! Toshitatsu Munakata, maker and dreamer, has designed a kit inspired by the extinct flying reptile to build a machine that flaps its wings. Follow the guide.
Tokyo, from our correspondent
Who hasn’t dreamed of making their very own pteranodon ornithopter ? As a reminder for those who don’t share this dream, pteranodon was a giant flying reptile from the dinosaur age, and an ornithopter is a machine designed to fly by flapping wings. In a fusion of fabrication and fantasy, Toshitatsu Munakata, alias Yamaneko—artist, catlover and passionate maker of both flying and floating objects—explains how to build your own “pteranothopter” using 3D-printed parts (sold as a kit on Shapeways).
3D rendering of pteranodon ornithopter skeleton on Sketchfab. © DR
The last time we met Mr. Munakata was at Maker Faire Tokyo in 2014, where he was demonstrating his flying cat with red-lit eyes, a motorized ornithopter remote-controlled by Arduino.
Thanks to his experience leading workshops for children and curious adults, Munakata knows how to simplify without compromising the relative performance of the fabricated object. In the case of pteranodon, the ornithopter looks more like a bird and flies more like a bat than a reptile, but as long as it flies, the beast’s fossil head is enough to evoke the once majestic pteranosaur.
How to make pteranodon ornithopter, by Toshitatsu Munakata :
No motor or remote-control here, but a well-strung rubber-band does the job for more than a flight of fancy around the garden. While the kit offers a choice of 6 different colors for the plastic 3D parts, the tutorial explains (with English surtitles) and shows in detail, either in real-time or in time-lapse, each step of the ornithopter’s meticulous assembly.
Don’t forget to carefully clean each orifice so that the joints can rotate freely ! For this, you will need the proper materials and the proper tools (shown at the beginning of the video), as well as the patience to follow the fabrication process through to the end. Too bad the artist doesn’t also provide the 3D files so that we could print the 3D parts ourselves…
Nonetheless, those who succeed will not be disappointed after having built their own Jurassic ornithopter. It’s the first step in the (maker) history of evolution, which can easily bridge the way to further developments: red blinking eyes, Arduino-controlled motor, dino-drone…
Further instructions (in Japanese only) !