the STORY of a life
BionicBird was born out of a passion to create, deeply rooted in a family history. Edwin VAN RUYMBEKE, Aeronautical Engineer, dreamed for years of being able to accomplish an electrical bird who could be the successor of the well-known TIM, the mechanical bird, invented by both his father and grand-father back in the sixties. His high scientific knowledge of the flapping flights, gathered along the years, combined to a perfect proficiency in new technologies, mastered this project, the BionicBird, and won the CONCOURS LEPINE gold medal on the way…
OF BIRDS & MEN, A WORD FROM THE INVENTOR:
“For many years, I worked for my father and grandfather’s family business, the inventor of TIM, the rubber-band bird well known to the general public. As a result, I used my aeronautic engineering studies to concentrate on flapping flight. Some of my accomplishments have been incorporated into the toy to improve its flight. Numerous high performance prototypes, but a bit too expensive to produce, remained in the closet in order to prepare for the future.
During this entire period, I dreamed of being able to replace the rubber-band bird with an electric motor and a battery to make a radio-controllable model. But the challenge was to maintain the same weight, which was completely impossible with the technology of the time. Until the arrival of miniature mobile phones… The new lithium batteries, and coreless motors created for vibrators, provided new opportunities! After a few theoretical calculations, I discovered that the dream had become attainable. However, the weight stumbling block remained: how to make a sufficiently compact and lightweight gear for coupling the motor to the wings’ flapping system.
I finally managed, one evening of great inspiration, one of those evenings that you are never sure to be able to recreate, one of those evenings that you would be quite incapable of retracing. From then on, and at the cost of uncompromising design to drastically minimize the weight of each component, the first CAD model (100% virtual) was born. Magic would have it that the first prototype of this model flew beautifully, far beyond my expectations! A page of my history had been turned.”
Edwin Van Ruymbeke
Fitting all the working components into this life-sized bird’s body (8 cm x 2 cm inner diameter) meant leaving all the standard methods behind and starting from a revolutionary design:
Ultra-compact structure: a centrally aligned “spinal cord.”
Mechanics: a proprietary patented speed reducer at the end of the motor allows for the elimination of the usually extensive gear train and a tenfold reduction in the space required.
Electronics: in order to optimize the number and layout of components and to produce a postage stamp-sized board!
As well as using a manufacturing process with tolerance levels worthy of watch making.
MANAGEABILITY AND RANGE
A bird is not an airplane and does not use the same principles to get around. After watching how real birds perform, we developed and patented a control system that uses wing bending, enabling fast and instantaneous maneuvers that are not possible with a classical drift system. It’s thanks to this system, coupled with its adjustable tail effect, that you can even fly the bird around your sitting room! Outdoors, the amazing range of the Bluetooth (100 m) with its laboratory-optimized aerial lets you follow the birds into the clouds.
WEIGHT AND MATERIALS
We could write extensively on the number of steps we had to work through to achieve the incredible weight of 9 g for the finished bird. Each component, down to the smallest axles, has been the result of a weight-optimization study.
The motors & the battery have been developed to an outstanding quality in collaboration with the most specialized manufacturers.
The two processors: the most advanced electronic components in miniaturization have been selected. Unconventional materials (liquid crystal polymer, carbon fiber, self-lubricated polyacetate) have been used to maintain performance while reducing the weight. Not to mention the wing research, enabling such great propulsion.