Saturday, August 27, 2011

Archangel Wings: Full Disclosure

So, I've told most people about my Maker Faire project, but I havent mentioned it on here very often because this site was restricted mostly to ITP class assignments. But, class is over and all of you loyal fans (all 3 of you, you are too kind) are here waiting for more, so here goes a full description of the project.

The details:
Life size metal wings inspired by the superhero Archangel
They are going to be made from 7075 alloy, air-craft grade aluminum with a final wingspan of close to 12 feet wide, not exactly to scale from the photo, but those would be impossible to wear. The wing will be be articulated at two joints per wing, one on the aluminum backplate I'll be wearing, and another joint half-way down the wing. At the joints will be spring hinges that spring the wings outwards when contracted. Here is a picture of all the panels laid out on the floor with me in the middle for scale:
The wings were originally supposed to be actuated by shape memory alloy ("muscle wire"), but due to limitations of the high maintenance material I had to abandon it in favor of using servos. All's well that ends well, because they will now be completely under my control with full range of motion as opposed to the 20-30 degrees of motion that the muscle wire was capable of producing. The servos will be attached to the wing panels and backplate and will wind up a low-profile, high-strength fishing line, pulling the wings towards them. Wind it one direction and the wings contract, spin the servo in the other direction and the spring hinges take over and open the wings. Heres a video I made while testing the servo control on small sample pieces of aluminum:

I am working on two different methods of control. Manual control of the wings will definitely be ready by Maker Faire (if not sooner), but I am having a really hard time procuring the right components to make the other work. The other method is to have a heart rate monitor I am wearing send signals to the arduino microcontroller which will then flap the wings at a rate proportional to beating of my heart. A simple toggle switch will alternate between one mode and the other (if I can just get that damn heart rate receiver!)

Manual control of the wings will be wired into two gloves I'll be wearing. Each glove will have small push-button switches hidden in the tips of each of the fingers, each responsible for an individual wing panel. Pressing one finger tip will move a certain panel outwards, pressing another finger will bring it back. This will allow me to control each of the wing panels individually and position them any way I want (even fold them up behind me) just by moving certain fingers. I'm hoping it will give the illusion that they are moving on their own since most people dont often notice what you're doing with your finger tips.

So, thats the full description. I hope you got as excited and curious to see it as I am to build it, because I am pretty F**king stoked.

More updates to come, but on that note, Peace!

1 comment:

  1. I am super excited!! The servo works brilliantly! Thanks for the video :)