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Boomerang Fail!?

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 07-15-2016 03:21 PM 670 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I was trimming trees in my yard last year I noticed this nicely bent elbow from a maple tree. Thinking ‘boomerang’ I saved it. Recently I decided to try tackling this one. I’ve owned, thrown and lost my share of boomerangs and have done some research on how they can be made. Well, despite my best heroic efforts this one just doesn’t perform well.

The shape is right and I tried tweaking it. When throw it, it does turn to the left, as it should, but it doesn’t gain much altitude and crashes at about its full distance away. My tweaking did improve it because initially it just flew straight. ;-)

Because of it’s poor performance I didn’t get as far as finishing the piece, thus it was not posted as a project

I believe the underlying problem is that the arms are not long enough. Perhaps I’ll try again eventually.

I took lots of photos of the build. If 5 people say so, I could post them, even though this was a fail.

[Fun Fact: The word for ‘Epic Fail’ in Esperanto is ’Ega Malsukceso.’]

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!



17 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

2373 posts in 1651 days


#1 posted 07-15-2016 03:49 PM

Dave,
I disagree with your assessment on this device’s poor performance due to “short arms”, for two reasons:

1 – There is no specific size designated for a boomerang, the aerodynamics of it’s correct operation are due to the wing (arm) profile (like an airplane wing) and the dimensional proporations of these wings to the total weight and size of the complete body,

and …..

2 – it is only possible for this device to operate properly when used in the southern hemisphere.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#2 posted 07-15-2016 03:56 PM

I was also considering that I need to throw it into a breeze. I mainly tested it early in the morning and at dusk. Very still air at those times.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7475 posts in 1467 days


#3 posted 07-15-2016 04:37 PM

Might not be just the arms are too short, but maybe the arms are too FAT. Looking at your picture, it appears the arms are quite thick.

Back in high school (1969 – 70) my buddy and I went to his grandfathers shop and cut some plywood in an effort to make boomerangs. At first they were complete failures. But when his granddad came home for lunch he showed us that the blades needed to look like the wing of an airplane. Told us to look up “airplane wings and how the work” in the encyclopedia (this was back before Al Gore invented the Internet ) so we went to work with the belt sander.

After about two hours we were ready for test flights. His flew like crazy and came back better than 1/2 way to us. So I flung mine as hard as I could and we watched it go out, and as it started to turn back we realized it was turning the wrong way! Then all we could do was stand and watch in horror as it crashed into the neighbors bedroom WINDOW ! We learned a VALUABLE LESSON in paying attention as to which SIDES of the blades needed the angles !

Oh, and each of us had to shell out $20 to get the window fixed !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#4 posted 07-15-2016 04:44 PM



Might not be just the arms are too short, but maybe the arms are too FAT. Looking at your picture, it appears the arms are quite thick.

Back in high school (1969 – 70) my buddy and I went to his grandfathers shop and cut some plywood in an effort to make boomerangs. At first they were complete failures. But when his granddad came home for lunch he showed us that the blades needed to look like the wing of an airplane. Told us to look up “airplane wings and how the work” in the encyclopedia (this was back before Al Gore invented the Internet ) so we went to work with the belt sander.

After about two hours we were ready for test flights. His flew like crazy and came back better than 1/2 way to us. So I flung mine as hard as I could and we watched it go out, and as it started to turn back we realized it was turning the wrong way! Then all we could do was stand and watch in horror as it crashed into the neighbors bedroom WINDOW ! We learned a VALUABLE LESSON in paying attention as to which SIDES of the blades needed the angles !

Oh, and each of us had to shell out $20 to get the window fixed !

- JoeinGa

I could try thinning the arms down. They are currently 1/4 inch thick. And yes, they are shaped like an airplane wing. I remember the last plastic one that I lost was really thin. It must be grown right into that tree it landed in.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Tim's profile

Tim

3110 posts in 1422 days


#5 posted 07-15-2016 04:57 PM



After about two hours we were ready for test flights. His flew like crazy and came back better than 1/2 way to us. So I flung mine as hard as I could and we watched it go out, and as it started to turn back we realized it was turning the wrong way! Then all we could do was stand and watch in horror as it crashed into the neighbors bedroom WINDOW ! We learned a VALUABLE LESSON in paying attention as to which SIDES of the blades needed the angles !

Oh, and each of us had to shell out $20 to get the window fixed !

- JoeinGa

Hah, is this one of those times you told us about where the only words your mom could get out were “Dammit Joey!”?

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5042 posts in 2608 days


#6 posted 07-16-2016 12:16 AM

Dave, I’m no aeronautical engineer, first off.

Having said that, it looks to me like it may be too heavy, for the lifting capacity of the wings.

Maybe make the wings in the correct shape, but much thinner. Also, if you make another one, maybe make the wings longer, but still pretty thin, so that you get more lift from the wings. As I understand it, the more lift you get relative to its weight the longer it will stay in the air.

Anyway, I’m very curious to see how this turns out, and will follow along!

-- Dean

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#7 posted 07-16-2016 01:28 AM



Dave, I m no aeronautical engineer, first off.

Having said that, it looks to me like it may be too heavy, for the lifting capacity of the wings.

Maybe make the wings in the correct shape, but much thinner. Also, if you make another one, maybe make the wings longer, but still pretty thin, so that you get more lift from the wings. As I understand it, the more lift you get relative to its weight the longer it will stay in the air.

Anyway, I m very curious to see how this turns out, and will follow along!

- Mean_Dean

I’ll try thinning it down. Alternatively, I also have a thinner slice from that elbow. I could try making that work too as an experiment.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5042 posts in 2608 days


#8 posted 07-16-2016 04:02 AM

Yeah, definitely keep trying to get them to fly. Once you get them going, you should make a video of them in flight!

-- Dean

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#9 posted 07-16-2016 10:49 AM



Yeah, definitely keep trying to get them to fly. Once you get them going, you should make a video of them in flight!

- Mean_Dean

I’ll do that.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View ronniebo's profile

ronniebo

126 posts in 2125 days


#10 posted 07-16-2016 11:05 AM

Oh Dear boys,
Why aren`t you thinking about the fact that you may well have crafted a left handed boomerang??
Even my old Pommy mate who was left handed figured that one out.!
RB in the land of the real boomerang

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#11 posted 07-16-2016 11:36 AM



Oh Dear boys,
Why aren`t you thinking about the fact that you may well have crafted a left handed boomerang??
Even my old Pommy mate who was left handed figured that one out.!
RB in the land of the real boomerang

- ronniebo

Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve owned and thrown boomerangs before. I haven’t made one before, but I know which side should be flat. I’m pretty sure it’s a matter of thickness/weight at this point.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

7475 posts in 1467 days


#12 posted 07-16-2016 01:24 PM

I seem to remember the right leg gets the knife blade angle cut on the inside, while the left leg gets the knife blade angle cut on the outside, all the while the bottom of the whole thing stays flat…is that correct?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#13 posted 07-16-2016 01:54 PM



I seem to remember the right leg gets the knife blade angle cut on the inside, while the left leg gets the knife blade angle cut on the outside, all the while the bottom of the whole thing stays flat…is that correct?

- JoeinGa

And the flat side of said right legs goes against the palm of the right hand when you throw, yes.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1430 posts in 1649 days


#14 posted 07-17-2016 12:39 AM

The jury is still out. Today I thinned the stock a bit and narrowed the arms a might while sanding the air foil back onto the arms. I also noted that throwing with the pinch method instead of the grasp method helps me get more spin on it. I found an old booklet online that gives a rule of thumb mathematical proportion formula. I’ll check that with what I have. The arms might be too wide.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Tootles's profile

Tootles

780 posts in 1962 days


#15 posted 07-17-2016 06:39 AM

I don’t know a whole lot about boomerangs, but I happened to stumble over this Instructable a while ago. It shows the aerodynamics required. In this Instructable, the boomerang is about 3/8” thick, so you might even find that, at 1/4”, yours might be a little thin. I think that the thicker it is, the more “curved” the aerofoil and the more lift it should have.

Other than that, are you throwing it right? The way that it needs to be thrown is not intuitive. Rather that try to explain it, I found this YouTube video.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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