Medium grit sandpaper (150-400 grit)
Spring clamp, quick grip style clamp or vise
Pliers, preferably needle nose
Stapler – that will hinge open for tacking
Fine piece of wire, or small paper clip
Length of bendable wire for holding wings at launch
Kit of parts:
1. Assemble the Fuselage
Locate the Left Fuselage, Right Fuselage, and the two short plastic Pins.
Push the two pins into the holes in the flat face of one of the fuselage halves. Dry fit the two halves together, making sure to align the pins in their proper holes, and making sure that the two halves seat together completely. If they do not, shorten the pins slightly. Pull the fuselage halves apart, and apply super glue across the flat faces of the fuselage halves. Align and clamp the Right Fuselage to the Left, and allow the glue to cure. Once dry, if any glue is visible in the large hole, clean out the hole of any glue using a piece of rolled up sandpaper.
2. Assemble the Wing Pivot
Next, you will want to test fit the wing pivot in the hole. Ensure that the wing pivot rotates freely without any binding. Sand down the outer faces of the wing pivot if needed.
3. Assemble the Body Tube to the Fuselage
Glue the assembled fuselage to the body tube using superglue. I like to apply it to the small diameter at the rear of the fuselage in a zig-zag pattern, and install the fuselage into the body tube with a twisting motion. Work quickly, you only have a second or two before the glue sets up.
Apply more super glue in the same pattern to the base of the foam nose, and install in the front of the fuselage.
4. Assemble the Sticker Fins to the Body Tube
Locate the Sticker fins. Trim around the edges of the sticker fin, removing the white border. Fold the sticker fins downward on the dashed lines and upward on the solid lines:
Peel one end of the sticker from the backing, and align with the length of the tube. Be sure to align one fin “vertically” with respect to the fuselage halves. Work your way around the tube. The fin sections that protrude will be aligned sticky side to sticky side:
You can trim the leading and trailing edges of the fins after installation if desired.
5. Build the Wings
Next, build the wings. Locate the balsa wings.
Use the sandpaper to round the leading and trailing edges of the wings. This will help prevent cracks and to improve the aerodynamics. Align the notch in the wing reinforcement with the notch in the balsa wing. Dry fit the wing reinforcements over the base edges of the wings as shown. You must leave a channel along the base of the wing for the wing pivot wire to pivot freely. Apply superglue to the areas of the wing covered by the wing reinforcements, and slide them into place. It may help to use the wing wire at this stage:
Now, you need to add the staple that will act as an anchor for the rubber band. The accurate location of this staple is crucial for the proper function of the wings. Notice the staple location marked on the wing template for both the right and left handed wings.
Wing Template PDF: Glider Rocket Wing Stapling Template
Download the above PDF, Print out at 100% and overlay the template on each wing, and open a standard stapler into “tacking” mode. Place the wing on two layers of cardboard, and staple down through the paper template and each wing where indicated.
Pull off the paper template, using care not to dislodge the staple. Note they will be mirror images.
Apply superglue over the base of the staple on the underside of each wing. This will harden the balsa, bond the staple in place and reinforce the wing around the staple.
Once the glue has cured, flip the wings over and bend the staple leg nearest to the middle of the wing down flat to the surface. Cover this leg with super glue. Also apply superglue to the base of leg of the staple that is standing straight up. Once the glue has cured, bend a small hook into the staple leg, with the point of the hook aiming towards the angle in the front of the wing.
6. Bend the Pivot Wire
Next, bend the pivot wire. Starting halfway down the length of the 9” wire, using needle nose pliers, form a gentle radius in the wire that matches the outer diameter of the body tube.
The legs of the wire should be parallel to one another, and roughly equal in length – they don’t have to be perfect, they will be trimmed later. As shown in the picture above, grip the wire just below the midline of the tube. Make an approximate 100° bend in each leg of the wire.
Again, the legs of the wire should be parallel after bending.
7. Assemble the moving parts to the Fuselage
Insert the rubber band through the upper tube-like hole in the fuselage. If needed, a short length of small gage wire or a small paperclip can be bent in a “U” and used to thread the rubber band through the tube.
With the wing pivot, installed in the fuselage, align the notches in the wing reinforcements, with the holes in the wing pivot. Ensure the hooks formed by the staples are facing away from the body of the plane. Slide the bent wing pivot wire along the base of each wing, starting at the rear of the wings. It should slide along the base edge of the wings, through the holes in the wing pivot, and out the leading edge of the wing. This may take a couple tries to get it seated, and sometime an assistant helps. Pivot the wings to ensure smooth operation. Mark the excess wire flush to the front edge of the wings, and trim to length. (note old picture – will update soon)
Stretch the rubber band and hook each end of the band to the formed staple hook on each wing. Careful, as you can easily pull the rubber band out one side of the body. You should now be able to test the folding action of the wings. When released, the wings will hinge forward on the pivot wire, and then rotate on the plastic pivot into gliding position. Ensure they open quickly, evenly and smoothly. If one side opens faster than the other, equalize the tension in the rubber band between the fuselage and the staple on each wing. When you ”pluck” the rubber band like a guitar string, the sound should be about the same on each side, indicating equal tension.
Check the angles of the wings in the deployed position. The angle of attack can be adjusted by altering the two 100° bends in the wing pivot wire. The dihedral angle should be correct as supplied, but can be altered by adding tape or thin shims to the top of the wing where the wing pivot contacts the wing reinforcement at the base of each wing. Greater dihedral angle makes the plane more steady, but reduces lift. 3° to 6° usually works well for this plane. (note old picture – will update soon)
8. Balancing, and Tuning:
Due to varying densities throughout balsa wood, it is important that the ARG be balanced left to right. To do this, simply invert the plane and balance it so it can roll side to side on your fingers. If the plane always rotates so one wing is lower than the other, that lower wing is slightly heavier than the other. Pieces of tape can be added to the tip of the lighter wing tip, until the plane balances evenly. This will help the plane fly straight and true. If you are flying your ARG in a smaller field or park, you can purposely weight one wing tip to intentionally upset this balance. This will cause the ARG to spiral down to the ground, and not drift too far from the launch site.
If the ARG is to be used on a windier day, a second rubber band can be added to increase the opening power of the wings. This will cause the wings to deploy slightly sooner at a lower altitude, but will help prevent the wind from causing the plane to tumble or spin without opening its wings fully. Also, as the rubber band gets old and tired, it should be replaced to ensure proper wing operation. For storage, it is helpful to unhook the rubber band from the wings to prevent it from stretching.
Your Air Rocket Glider is complete!
The ARG v2.0 launches from the standard 1/2” NPT launch tube. The piece of wire that holds the wings folded before launch can be made from an 18” length of wire coat hanger. Bend as shown in the picture below.
Install this wire onto the base of the launch tube as shown below. Here’s the ARG installed, with the wings held back by the bent wire, ready for launch! (note old picture – will update soon)
If the wings become damaged or broken in use, you can use the wing template in step 6 above to cut some new wings from a sheet of 3/32 balsa available at most hobby shops or craft stores. The wing reinforcements can be made from an aluminum soda can, and the required shape is also shown at full scale on the wing template. The soda can may be cut with regular scissors, just be careful of the sharp edges.