Last year, Heavy Meta brought Canada's 30-foot long fire-breathing dragon across the U.S./Canada border to bring the heat to Maker Faire Detroit. Over the year that has passed, one thing that always irked us was the size of the dragon's wings. In the original sketch, the wings are supposed to be as tall as the head of the dragon! However, we had never been able to solve the engineering challenge this posed until now.
We are pleased to say that Detroit will be the first Maker Faire where attendees can check out our new wings! Here's how we did it.
Designing the Wings We had two design goals:
1. Safely engineer a system that would allow the wings to be raised and lowered using some kind of mechanical winch.
2. Prevent the wings from rusting.
The first and second parts are related in a way, and the choice was made early on to work with aluminum to keep the wings light, as well as prevent corrosion.
To accomplish the first goal, we looked for other places where this problem has already been solved in an elegant fashion, and we found two "homologous structures" in the engineering world. One is in hydraulic excavating equipment, and the other, much simpler example is a straight razor.
A straight razor has a little handle for the thumb called a tang. It is the perfect length and shape to apply just the right amount of leverage to the spine to open the razor. We asked ourselves, what if instead of the handle, we had a wing stem, and what if instead of one spine, there were three spines, each supporting wing mesh?
With this in mind, we got our friend Ryan Longo at the Apocalypse Metal Shop to CNC plasma cut four large pieces of steel that mimicked the look of a straight razor and tang combo.
Matt decided inside each spine would need to be a strong piece of steel, we would create an aluminum façade to go over each "dragon finger."