Squirrel Rubber Band Plane on CBC Radio Monday 3:10pm (All in a Day)

Highly efficient elastic strips for Squirrel kits.

Giacomo Panico and I will talk about the Squirrel project this Monday (July 23) on CBC Radio.

It’s hard to say what questions will come up so I am bringing a few things to show Giacomo. I’m posting the pictures here so you can see them in the event we discuss them (also incase my friends can give me more ideas).

I’ll take a few more pictures during the interview and write a report about the experience later.

I’m bringing some of this special elastic band (right). This stuff is procured in 10-20lb increments. It is stripped down by a machine (called a stripper). It is then cut to length for the Squirrel kits.

For loads of excitement you can see how the elastics are cut to size.

Box templates made from reused cardboard.
Detail of box templates.

I’m bringing some of the boxes that are used to share the Squirrel model airplane all over the world.

The raw cardboard is collected at places such as Grace Ottawa, cut into blanks to fit the “box-o-matic”. The box-o-matic then cuts the blanks into templates. This system works using robotics to move a cutter around to save the labor of cutting the box (aka CNC). You can see the box-o-matic during testing and starting to cut a box.

It can make 100+ boxes per hour of operator time.

“Reverse clothespins”.
Squirrel kits!

These boxes have features that allows them to be assembled using “reverse clothes pins” (right). They can be glued at the same time the boxes are loaded with Squirrels (left).

The Squirrels themselves have been packaged very light using only the instruction sheet to give the package rigidity. Quite a bit of effort was made to get the instruction sheet onto a single sheet to keep the weight of each Squirrel under 20g.

“Peace Plane”. It’s a paper plane that forms a circle.

Also you can make this really cool “Peace Plane” from the instruction sheet when you’re done. There are instructions and a downloadable version.

There are many steps in the making of the Squirrel kits but one of the more exiting steps is the cutting of the small parts from balsa using a laser beam controlled by robotics (CNC). If you follow the link you can see what this process looks like.

Shipment for Dinkar (school teacher in India).
Just in time box assembly.

I’m also bringing this shipment for India to the interview. This shipment is for my new pen-pal Dinkar who is a school teacher. I have been making regular donations of Squirrel kits and other stuff for him to share with the kids and for his own fun and exploration.

Notice how the box is glued and clamped at the same time it is loaded. I used to make the boxes and then load them when needed but then you have a pile of boxes instead of a pile of templates to deal with.

Also notice that I am sending him unpackaged Squirrels to save on postage and of course the environment. This allows me to keep Dinkar’s supply up to speed without going broke on postage. 🙂

The Lloyd Shales “Minnow”.

Dinkar was interested in the Minnow which is another simple model plane made by Lloyd Shales. It’s a good next step after you’ve made a few Squirrels. I had sent him one before but it did not survive shipping.

I’ve been donating my Squirrel kits all over the world including to DND (who sends them to Afghanistan and Sierr Leone), Brazil and Pakistan. Also locally to Big Brother and Sister, Boys and Girls Clubs and also kids I recruit myself. Some adults too.

More recently with Dinkar a couple of my friends and cousins started to pitch in. This is exciting because I’m not just sharing my own creation but I’m sharing the sharing.

I’ve also made a list of a few things to talk about (as if I could run out in the 20 minute or so interview). 🙂

Here are some of the things I’ve done and enjoyed about the Squirrel project.

-Don’t patent your project. Share it.

-Be kind to your fellow humans and planet.

-If you share a lot you will meet new friends. I now have pen-pals all over the world to collaborate with.

-I’ve moved away from being a software developer and towards being an inventor and an artist. I’ve worked on some cool projects and commissions including a robot that can draw portraits and an upcoming art installation that has artificial vision so it can detect your expression and respond.

-I’ve learned more about simplicity and accessibility. These concepts helped me succeed in software development but I’ve now refined the process of simplifying and verifying design.

-I’ve become involved with the “maker movement”. This is a movement back to making things that values sharing and open source. I’ve met many new friends as a result of attending events and the Blog-sphere of this movement.

-I’m going to try and finish some more of my model airplane designs this summer. That’s lots of work. If you want to attend some of the workshops where these designs will be tested contact me!

4 thoughts on “Squirrel Rubber Band Plane on CBC Radio Monday 3:10pm (All in a Day)

  1. Darcy, it is wonderful that you keep promoting the Squirrel model airplane and simple model aviation. I have seen a big increase in my foam glider articles this summer.

    Bill Kuhl

    1. Dear Bill,
      I am muddassir from Pakistan i make a model of indoor Airplane but i cant arrange Rubber band for flying without rubber band you know its wast
      so you are requested to help or guide me to how can i arrange rubber band hope you will answer me.


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