Making wings flap

I am an artist and am looking to make real butterfly wings flap using Arduino. I am unsure how to best utilize Arduino and what hardware would be necessary to make a micro sculpture move in this way? As you can tell I am new to Arduino and an am not a mechanical engineer, I have done some tutorials and also have an uno. I am using real wings so the movement would have to be slow and possibly with an armature I create. Many thanks in advance for your help and patience.

You need some sort of solenoid that can hold its position based on voltage or current and vary that current high/low to have the solenoid plunger move back and forth. The plunger can then be coupled to the wing to have it move up/down.

Another approach could be a motor whose shaft can be coupled to a cam or something like that to move the wing up and down...for slow speeds you can use a geared motor or servo or stepper...geared would be the best option, I guess.

Real butterfly wings? They are very fragile, right? All your problems lie in handling the wings and attaching mechanics to them. Utilizing the Arduino is no problem at all compared to that.
You won't be able to replicate the natural motion of a butterfly wing in slow motion, because if you look at a real butterfly in slow motion, like this:

...you see how the air helps the wing curve in a wavy shape. In a slow motion you would have to place your butterfly in water to make it look similar.
If I were to build a butterfly with plastic wings, I'd try to build it like there was a stem along the front edge of the wing. And this stem had a soft spring keeping it in upper position. An almost invisible nylon string could pull it down. This string would go further underneath the butterfly to hidden mechanics including a motor and some gear to create the pull and release motion. If it was just an on/off machine, you don't need an Arduino for that.

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I’d use the smallest dc motor you can find, an eccentric cam or horn, and drive it with PWM.

A piece of tiny wire from the horn to the wings, possibly through a pivot point…

Low speed, continuous rotation will push-pull the connected piano wire to move the wings.

Carefully managed low-duty PWM control will. give variable speed micro motion at a reasonable speed.

Sounds like fun.
Post a pic or video when it’s done !

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sounds like overkill using arduino, if it is simple flap motion

Hi, @jgarris99
Welcome to the forum.

What you are trying to do, is like an Ornithopter.

Google;

arduino ornithopter butterfly

See what it brings up.

Tom... :grinning: :+1: :australia: :coffee:

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Nothing about this needs an arduino. How small a motor do you need? You can get small gear motors from places like Sparkfun etc, that run at different fixed speeds. Use a crank mechanism to convert the rotary motion to back and forth and that should be enough. Only thing you need is a motor and a battery.

Thanks! So you're suggesting putting a cam or horn onto a DC motor and then attaching a wire or string to the wing and also the cam? Do you know where I could purchase a micro cam or horn online? I assume I can use Arduino to control the speed of the motor for slower movement? Many apologies for the lack of knowledge in this area and I appreciate your comments.

These type of things you need to practice making for yourself. Half the fun of projects is making rather and searching for the impossible.

The small parts used in hobby servos would be in the right area.
Depending on the mechanical angles and levers involved, you may need to perform some reduction of the speed.
motor & reduction

I personally wouldn’t use those R/C servos because of other factors.

If it becomes overwhelming, go ask your local university’s mechanical engineering & robotics guys -they’d jump at a chance to work on a micro-machine like this

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Hi, @jgarris99
Did you Google what I suggested in post#6, the results may give you constructional ideas.

Even Google;

ornithopter butterfly

Tom... :grinning: :+1: :coffee: :australia:

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As everyone says, there are many ways of getting at it. You may need to fabricate somethings yourself - balsa or softwood or softboard can be easily cut with a sharpie. The idea is to convert rotation to (non?) linear motion...

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Interesting! I'll definitely research this. Appreciate your feedback.

Yes I love it! How amazing. Thanks for showing this. I have seen a small Ornithopter mechanism online and wondered if it would work.

Great idea of using the solenoid plunger! I have a few things to try and hopefully I can't get one of them to work for my project. Much appreciated.

I ordered a few things from the suggestions and hope to have something to show soon! Thanks everyone for all your much appreciated help!

Glad to help, and best of luck!!

You don't want a cam; that is too terribly inefficient. You want a crank.