How Ornithopters Fly

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Rack and pinion drive system
of the ornithopter model EV7

1. Drive unit


2. Animation of the rack and pinion system

There was used a pin rack with a pitch of 6 mm. Corresponding chain drives are used at model cars. This rack moves up and down and drives the inner lever of the flapping wing.

The rotating pinion must be leaded along the black dotted line around the rack.

First the power flight must be switched on. To go back to gliding flight at any time a short click on the gliding flight button is enough. In the following round passing the lower dead point the motor will be reduced to half speed and gets switched off to gliding flight position.


  • Because of the page design for mobile devices, the crank animations shown below do not work here. When clicking, only an animation is loaded. However, with a large display and a Flash Player the rack and pinion drive works with control (Firefox: Activate Shockwave Flash, don't block it).

(Animation 2.5 MB, in German)

picture of the rack

3. Drive mechanism


3.1 Drawings of the driving mechanism


3.2 Detail drawings of the pin rack drive