Pull String Helicopter

by 271828, published

Pull String Helicopter by 271828 Feb 18, 2013

Featured Thing!


A pull string helicopter that flies well and is easy to assemble.

ABS is the recommended material for best part survival.

As requested SolidWorks 2011 source files are posted. Blade profiles are not optimized. Try to design better shapes that can be easily printed without support and upload your progress!

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i cant wait to fly it i got my 3d printer as an early Christmas present built it and started printing on Christmas this will be the funnest thing yet its printing as we speak


A zip tie could work or the pull could be printed. I might have to try it out after i finish building my next printer.

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1. Look at the provided pictures to familiarize yourself with the helicopter. It was designed to fly best with the tapered side of the blades down and also the tapered portion of the spool centers the propeller when launching in this orientation.
2. Print all parts and the propeller with the number of desired blades (at this time I have only tried the 5 blade). I printed in ABS using 3 perimeters, 0.2 mm layer height, 25% fill and a 1 cm brim to help hold the tall parts on the print bed. The narrow part of the spool was printed solid. No support was needed if printed in the given orientation. You know your setup best so adjust accordingly.
3. Cut 3.5 ft of string and tie a 2 in loop on each end. A thin strong material is ideal, I used 150 lb test spectra fishing line.
4. Find a rubber band in the 3 in x 0.25 in range, loop it through the bottom of the spool, back through the rubber band and pull snug.
5. Slide the rubber band and spool into the handle and attach one end of the string to the hole in the center of the spool using the same looping procedure. Attach the other end of the string to the pull.
6. Slide the propeller onto the spool, tapered side toward the spool, and wind the string onto the spool. Pull the rubber band through the end of the handle and loop it around the center of the plate. Twist the plate and rubber band a few times so the string retracts and then slide the plate into the handle. At this point the rubber band should not pull too heavily on the spool.
7. Oil the spool so it spins easily in the handle. If not oiled the plastic can friction weld together.
8. Give the helicopter a pull and try not to break too many things.


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jordan7777777 on Dec 27, 2013 said:

i cant wait to fly it i got my 3d printer as an early Christmas present built it and started printing on Christmas this will be the funnest thing yet its printing as we speak

AntonChigurh on Dec 24, 2013 said:

It would be cool if this was like real ones where a toothed string is pulled. A zip tie could possibly be utilized. Just a thought.

271828 on Dec 25, 2013 said:

A zip tie could work or the pull could be printed. I might have to try it out after i finish building my next printer.

RenatoT on Dec 20, 2013 said:

I tried to print the pale.stl but always in print after 1 or 2 layer is easier to ear a strong vibration and after that the extruder shift in X for 5-10 mm because it start to misalign the external circle.

What can be the problem of this vibration and motor shift when printing large circles?
Is see that other time with big models.

Thanks in advance

271828 on Dec 20, 2013 said:

This could be from the stepper motors missing steps under to large a load. The X axis might be binding in certain positions or the print head moves faster when printing large circles. I'm not really sure beyond that.

robertopaoli on Aug 18, 2013 said:

Ho fatto due elicotteri in Italia e li ho mandati ad un bambino rumeno che e' stato felicissimo e gioca tutti i giorni.
Grazie del bel progetto.

271828 on Aug 21, 2013 said:

I'm glad it is being enjoyed, thanks for sharing.

kebes22 on Jun 20, 2013 said:

I printed this in PLA. Design seemed fine, slicer worked fine (MakerWare), and the PLA seemed plenty strong. The problem I had is that the spool kept welding itself to the handle due to the friction (even with some teflon lube), and the string was cutting into the side of the opening.

I have been working on a new handle that adds a ball bearing for the spindle, and metal dowel pins for the string to ride on, and a better clip on the bottom for winding the rubber band, and that is working great so far. I am planning on posting my files when it is done. It will be compatible with these propellers. Just curious though, what is the actual pitch of the helix? I estimated 2 inches per revolution, but that doesn't quite feel the same. Maybe 50mm instead?

Nice work though!

271828 on Jun 21, 2013 said:

I'm glad you are having fun with it! The pitch of the helix used on the spool is 2 inch per revolution. I just downloaded and checked the SolidWorks file.

SwimmingNaked on May 20, 2013 said:

I built this at 75% scale with PLA and it works great. I did paint the fins with Krazy Glue to keep them together better, and my only problem so far is that I don't have strong enough fishing line to pull it hard (15lb).

271828 on May 20, 2013 said:

I'm glad you like it. The fins were getting thin at 100%, good job printing at 75%!

Omega2 on Mar 20, 2013 said:

I printed it with PLA. The handle was too tall for my printer, so I printed part of it again upside down and glued it onto the first printed partial handle. I couldn't find any thin string, twine or fishing line in the house, so used some entirely unsuitable thick string.

271828 on Mar 21, 2013 said:

The print looks good! the string could use work.

raphie on Mar 14, 2013 said:

Just out of curiosity, what function does the rubber band perform?

271828 on Mar 15, 2013 said:

It holds the spool in the handle and acts as a retract for the string with varying success.

ncbob on Mar 1, 2013 said:

Wow, what an awesome job on this toy. I just came back in from playing with this outside, I had all the neighbor kids trying it and just having a blast.

I'm going to print a bunch of them to hand out to the Neighborhood kids so they can have flying battles!!! Pictures to come soon!

271828 on Mar 2, 2013 said:

Thank you! I'm glad everyone likes it.

Framingr on Feb 21, 2013 said:

Has anyone printed this in PLA yet? I have done 3 complete prints of the handle and each one has broken with the slightest pressure. I am not sure that PLA lends itself to this without thicker walls on the handle

271828 on Feb 21, 2013 said:

PLA might not work if the handle is being damaged that easily. I'm also interested because I have never used PLA before. The spool and blades experience large loads when launching and the blades when crashing into things. At this time I will add a note recommending ABS.

271828 on Feb 20, 2013 said:

The bottom plate is now in the zip. file.

Landru on Feb 19, 2013 said:

Source files? I'd like to modify. (Also, 3 blade works OK)

271828 on Feb 19, 2013 said:

Can you use SolidWorks 2011 files? The 5 blade will easily hit the 40 ft. ceilings at work. The bottom plate is in the download list and can be downloaded separately. I’m not sure how to get it into the .zip file. The flat side of the prop should go up for best results.

Framingr on Feb 19, 2013 said:

Having all sorts of issues printing the handle. It doesnt seem to want to slice correctly using slic3r. Does anyone have any suggestions?

271828 on Feb 19, 2013 said:

I used Slic3r 0.9.8 and it worked fine, is it giving geometry errors?

mikeq on Feb 18, 2013 said:

Nice work!

271828 on Feb 18, 2013 said:

Thank you!