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Scale up your dragon costume with wings that extend, flap and retract

Arduino TeamNovember 1st, 2021

This year for Halloween, Quint BUILDs wanted to make something special for his daughter’s costume. Quint’s idea was to design and fabricate a pair of mechatronic dragon wings that can mount to a user’s back and move in three different modes by utilizing a set of pneumatic air cylinders. 

The prototype began as a single air cylinder connected to a relay that was, in turn, controlled by a single Arduino Micro and button. This way, Quint could finely tune the timings and pressures required for the device. After 3D printing a simple controller, machining a few aluminum plates, and welding it all together into a second prototype, it was time to experiment with programming more complex movements. 

Three pneumatic cylinders were used to create a couple axes of motion. First, the larger base cylinder moves a central piston vertically, thus extending and retracting them outwards. Each wing can flap independently through the use of two smaller pistons and linkages. Finally, pressurized air is provided by a compressed CO2 canister. These actuators are each controlled by a dedicated relay module that’s connected to an Arduino Uno.

Whenever one of the three buttons on the controller are pressed, a subroutine for the specified movement is executed. This could include fluttering the wings a couple of times, extending them outwards, and even performing a more complicated flapping motion. 

To see how this project was built in more detail, you can check out Quint’s write-up here on Instructables.


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