Stratos Glider

by exosequitur, published

Stratos Glider by exosequitur Oct 6, 2012

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This is one of my older planes - its a good flyer, but there's a lot of better ones available to print now!

check them out at http://www.thingiverse.com/exosequitur/designs

If you want to learn how to design amazing, highly functional designs for 3d printing, design and print useful repair parts, and generally print useful stuff faster, more reliably, and with less problems check out my books, Functional design for 3D printing and the Zombie Apocalypse Guide to 3D Printing on Amazon!

A Full sized, updated variant that can be printed on a 100MM bed can be found at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:300168

Video 1
Video 2

Launcher and tools:

For instructions look at my glider instruction thing:1465700.

For tips on printing glider wings, drop by my blog at threedsy.com and if you like our models, keep us designing for you instead of flipping burgers by purchasing one of our premium designs from the site!



Your printer will need to be capable of printing smooth 1 and 2 layer prints. Adjust your first layer settings to achieve solid layers with no surface debris or curling.

If you have trouble with prints lifting, try the "beard" versions. trim off the "beard" when done.

Layer height matters, as does fill ratio. Increasing the fill ratio for the fuselage will shift the CG. I am using .20 layer height - you will want to be as close to this as possible.

If thinner layers are desired, use a factor of .2mm . My nozzle is .35mm, but a .5 should work fine. If your nozzle is smaller than .33, adjust the perimeters accordingly.

The wing is printed with an axis - orthogonal fill orientation to minimize warping and maximize durability. The first layer should run lengthwise, the second spanwise.

The wing must be very flat. Use care when removing the wing and tail sections from the bed. Peel up from the tips toward the fuselage with a thin blade or spatula, lifting only as much as possible to break free, being careful not to disturb the spanwise symmetry. If the wings are not perfectly symetrical when viewed from the front of the aircraft, adjustments will be required for proper performance.

Glue the tail and canopy / hook into place with a tiny drop of superglue.

Known working instructions:

Print the Stratos using ABS. .20 layer height (or close) , 2 perimeters, and 2 solid layers, 20% line fill. Use a fill orientation of 0 degrees to the axis of the fuselage (natural axis of the print), so that the first layer runs forward and aft.

Print the launcher with 3 perimeters (2 for .5 nozzle), 2 solid layers, and .35 line fill. Two perimeters are not enough, and will break. Scale the part to your preference - it is not layer critical.

Glue the tail and canopy / hook into place with a tiny amount of superglue.

Carefully bow the wings upward to give a slight rounded dihedral.

Add a tiny bit of up elevator until the plane flies straight and level.

left to its own devices, the plane will want to dive sharply under and fly upside down. A small up elevator adjustment will correct this tendency.

Put on a nice stretchy (18-24" extended) rubber band on the launcher, and fly!

Flight tips:

As designed, the plane has nearly neutral stability, and can be trimmed to fly right side up or upside down if only a very small amount of up elevator is dialed in.

If adjusted in this way it is possible to perform a half loop terminating in an slow, extended inverted glide, usually rolling to right side up due to the dihedral. If you can get it tuned for this, you can get some very long flights this way!

A small amount of weight (3mm washer, etc) can be glued to the fuselage forward of the hook for more stability or longer flights.

For thermalling, keep it as light as possible. Adjust for circling flight of 50 - 75 foot radius. Trim for slowest possible flight without stalling, then in 30 - 45 minutes the control surfaces will have relaxed to close to being correct. Make tiny adjustments until maximum flight duration (not distance) is achieved. You will need a strong thermal (or micro-thermal) to gain altitude, as this is a tiny model, with a short wingspan. I have had some luck in parking lots and ridge lift situations.

Protip by Apexio (from comments below) : "Managed to thermal one a few times yesterday... Adding under camber and a good amount of dihedral to the wing makes a night and day difference in flight performance. "

Except in extreme cases, do not bend ailerons in the wing. Use the elevators as elevons instead. Using the rudder will cause side-slip drag, and will result in shorter flights. If the model seems to be skidding, use the rudder to align the fuselage to the direction of flight, then elevon tweaking to get straight and level or any other desired flight profile.

A neat trick is to adjust the pane for straight looping flight, then launch at about a 30 degree roll angle, slightly upward. Keep adjusting launch and control profiles until the plane circles around so that you can catch it.

The plane can be scaled to 66% and printed at .15, or 150% at .30 with reasonable results. The 150% will require additional weight at the nose.

Other materials and layer heights may work as well, please post your results!

Update :

Prints fine with PLA. Extra care needed during removal. Nominally heavier. Works but is less durable and harder to glue - not recommended if you can use ABS.

Added "bearded" versions to facilitate printing in Polycarbonate, Nylon, or ABS on unheated beds. Please leave feedback on how this works!

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Wow this is a wonderful design! It flies really well with the launcher. I noticed the wings cracked after a few launches in the grass. Are there any tips(print settings) to prevent this?

thank you its awesome !

do you have to bend up the wings?

Does it still work well if printed in PLA?

Yes. I used PLA and had great results.

I love it, remember my infancy !!! great work.

Does it work on a MakerBot replicator 2 or a gboz

totally a great plane love it - printing a bunch to give away thanks for sharing

Works well, but needs to have a tab on the back to hold on to.

I used a makerbot replicator dual.

What printer did you use? (anybody reply)

I used an Ultimaker 2, it works great but need to use a fine thickness.

I've so far made 12 of them. they are great!

i realy like it, but my problem is, i have printed 2 of them, but they bendet when cooling down (printed with abs on heated glass) but i have finaly managed to rebend them with a lighter now they fly realy great :D
2thumbs up!

I have printed it scaled down in my Printrbot Jr and still works great! Thank you for this nice design :)

Looks really great!

Just out of curiosity, how well does it fly when thrown by hand?

Flys great, but difficult to give it a powerful launch.  Enjoy!

Working on some new gliders...some teeny ones that will print 4 to a plate on a mendel - good for class demos and promo stuff....they fly great already, but I am redesigning so they print prettier.  Also have an old-timey biplane design, needs some work, maybe in PC? its too heavy, really, and barely flies so far, but it has some potential if someone wants to message the design. If there is interest, I'll post it....but I don't have time to get it tuned out myself right now.

Managed to thermal one a few times yesterday...    Adding under camber and a good amount of dihedral to the wing makes a night and day difference in flight performance. 

Awesome! Yeah, it does help, but haven't been able to get the undercamber to "stick" without damaging the wing....You must be using a little heat (my next attempt)? 

Are you using ABS, PS, or PLA?

So stoked that folks are enjoying my little gliders!

I printed in ABS.  I was able to add dihedral and undercamber pretty easily.   Two caveats:

1) Rotate the print so the wings are at a 45 degrees bias.  If they are 90 degrees to the print direction, they will be weak laterally, or chordwise.

2)  Allow the plane to cool completely before removing it from the bed, or it will warp. I use a fan when I'm in a hurry :)

Printed several, PLA, ABS and polycarbonate. So far the PC is the best one. Thanks for the awesome design. 

Can you pst a pic of the PC model?... And where do you get your PC filament, if you don't mind sharing? 

 I get the PC from ProtoParadigm. I will add a pic in the made one section. Because of the design it prints well in PC, the large wings hold it down it lifted on the front as it printed. But much better than about anything else I have printed with PC.I found the trick is to print slow so you can use the lowest extruder temp, I think I used 270ish.

Added a "bearded" version of the model for you to try with PC... should hold the front of the fuselage in place, if you want to try it. Also, might try to orient the layers with the axis of the plane, front to back for the first layer, and spanwise for the second. This should result in a more durable plane that flexes along the correct axis to preserve aerodynamic integrity....IMO, though your mileage may vary ;-)

 Printed the bearded version, the nose stayed down for the whole print, Printed this one with the layers oriented side to side and length wise. It seems to fly similar to the first one. Thanks again for making these fun little planes

We printed a few and the all fly nicely.
Very cool gliders, thanks!

this is a great model thanks for sharing... printed one

Wow!   Just printed one perfectly, and I'm going to print 4 more to hand out at a glider contest tomorrow.  I'm sure they'll get a kick out of them. Thanks! :)

Nice project!
Perhaps PS would be nice for printed gliders? Any experience with it?
https://grrf.de/en/catalog/verbrauchsmaterial-spezial-material/ps-750g-nature-3mm-on-a-small-spoolhttps://grrf.de/en/catalog/ver... states 20% less weight.

Looks like PC is outperforming...but I haven't started using PC yet...see post above by apexio...