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In the past I've tried to make working LEGO gliders but since all the LEGO sails were either too small or the wrong shape the only thing that ever kinda worked was using paper over Technic beams (in which case it's really the paper that's gliding, not the LEGO pieces).

Recently, LEGO has come out with some rather large plastic sails in their 42105 Technic Catamaran set, and I'm interested in trying to revive my old MOC idea.

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Using the sails in the LEGO Technic Catamaran set, is it possible to make a 100% LEGO glider that really works?

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As it turns out, the answer is yes! Even though the wings are flat and can't generate much lift, I was able to get up to about 15ft of distance on a 10ft drop.


click to watch the video

Here's how I did it:

First, you're going to need 2 of the set, or at-least two copies of the sails and some common Technic pieces. This is because the sails in the set are two different sizes (and I wasn't able to get a two-wing design to balance anyway).

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the plastic sail sheet

Then you just build a really minimal and light-weight frame, with adjustable wing angles. Here's how I built mine, using only the parts from two copies of the set (click the images to view them larger):

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glider top

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glider bottom

You'll notice how this frame isn't very sturdy. Since the wings can't really generate lift anyway, there's no advantage to being able to throw it like a wooden or foam glider, and a stronger frame would just be dead weight.

The most-important thing about this design is being able to adjust the angle of the wings. Here's roughly the pitch that gave me the best results.

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adjustable wing pitch

I gotta say, I didn't have high hopes for this project going into it, but ultimately I was pleasantly surprised with the results!

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  • Have you considered adding some sort of connector in the middle of wing side to change profile of the wing? To give them a bit of curve. It is just axle is already there, so having few more grams for connectors to change a profile may impact the performance positively. – Alex Sep 27 at 20:55
  • @Alex I tried but the effect on the shape was minimal, they still sagged. – Alexander O'Mara Sep 27 at 20:57
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    I love surprises coming from HNQ! Congrats for the creativity. Could it be coupled to something like this kickstarter.com/projects/393053146/… ? It wouldn't be 100% LEGO, it could be fun though, if it indeed works. – Eric Duminil Sep 28 at 7:54
  • You can definitely get lift from angle of attack alone (some paper plane designs use this), so controlling the wing angle could be very helpful. At the moment it looks like the wing spar (repurposed mast) is free to rotate. Then make sure the centre of gravity is fairly well forward for stability and I reckon you could get a lot further. I'm tempted to try something myself with vintage Technic and making comparable sails. – Chris H Sep 29 at 8:20
  • Interesting. Set 42074 also has sails, but of a slightly different shape (wider). Wonder if those would work. Unfortunately I only have that set once or I would give it a try. – Tonny Sep 29 at 14:30

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