How to make a rubberband helicopter

Written by fred samsa
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How to make a rubberband helicopter
You can make a homemade toy helicopter with a rubber band motor. (Helicopter image by DStalvey from

A homemade rubber band helicopter is a great way to demonstrate simple physical principles of force transfer, and it also makes a captivating toy. The project can largely be accomplished with materials found around the house, though it does require a section of flexible split bamboo. In the absence of bamboo, a piece of an old window blind may also work. Once the materials are in hand, you can build a homemade rubber band helicopter in an afternoon.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Long piece of split bamboo
  • Rubber band
  • Paper clip
  • Cotton thread
  • Scissors
  • Card stock
  • Transparent tape
  • Glue

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  1. 1

    Tape the ends of a length of flexible split bamboo together to form a circle, about 10 inches in diameter.

  2. 2

    Tie two lengths of cotton thread to the bamboo circle parallel to each other, dividing the circle into three equal segments. Pull the thread tight before tying, and secure the knots with a drop of glue.

  3. 3

    Attach a paper clip onto the bamboo circle. Loop one end of the rubber band around the bamboo circle to attach it to the bamboo, and insert the other end into the paper clip, so that the rubber band is perpendicular to the cotton thread supports.

  4. 4

    Tape two 1-inch-wide card stock tabs to the bamboo circle, on either side of the paper clip, so that the tabs approach the circle at an angle of 30 degrees. Tape a rectangular paper wing to each tab. Each wing should measure about 1 inch wide and 4 1/2 inches long.

  5. 5

    Make a rotor for the rubber band helicopter using a 7-inch piece of bamboo as an axle. The rotor will lie at the centre of the rubber band and perpendicular to it. Cut a small butterfly shape out of card stock and tape it to the centre of the rotor axle, so that the notches at the top and bottom of the butterfly shape will align the rotor with the rubber band.

  6. 6

    Cut two rectangular paper wings for the ends of the rotor, and tape them in place. The wings should measure 3/4 inch wide by 2 1/4 inches long. Attach the wings to the rotor lengthwise, with the long side of the wings parallel to the rotor axle.

  7. 7

    Launch your rubber band helicopter by winding the rotor assembly around the centre of the rubber band, with the rotor perpendicular to the rubber band. Wind the rotor about 50 times, taking care that the rubber band is winding cleanly around the notches in the centre of the rotor. Release the bamboo circle and rotor to launch.

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