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Zipline Racer

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Project Snapshot

This lightning-fast project provides the thrill of propeller-driven thrust, but without the challenges of aerodynamic flight!

The paper cutout offers a level of personalization, and interestingly, prevents the whole racer from flipping upside down!

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Tools and Materials

The Engineering Creation Kit has everything you need for this project and many more from STEM Inventions, or get the supplies in bulk:

Tips and Troubleshooting

If the racer is falling off of the zipline during launch, then...

  • Make sure to gently rest the racer on the line. If the racer is pulled downward onto the line, then upon release, the line will snap upward and cause the racer to fall off.

  • Try creating a larger paper cutout. The paper cutout isn't just for decoration: The rubber band can create a substantial amount of torque (twisting force). This force turns the propeller, but it can also turn the frame upside down! The paper cutout prevents the frame from flipping over by pushing against the surrounding air (creating drag).

If the racer isn't going far, then...

  • Wind up the rubber bands more. Make sure they're "double coiled."

  • Make sure the mason line is as tight as possible.

  • Try angling the mason line downward slightly.

  • Check to make sure the paperclips aren't pinching the line and generating excessive friction.

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