Versatile and Simple Mobile - Planes, Pterosaurs, Birds,...

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About: Retired scientist messing around with making things to keep myself entertained

This is a really straightforward but versatile mobile design. You can hang 8 things of your choice from the arms and as the mobile is symmetrical as long as you hang in opposite pairs the whole thing should still be evenly balanced.

Requires:

  • laser cutter (arms are 50cm or so long so if you don't have a lot of width you may been to angle the arms on your bed or revise a little)
  • 3mm plywood
  • PVA glue
  • 12mm x 24mm strip
  • Small metal hook
  • thread or other hanging cord
  • 8 dangly things

Step 1: Making the Framework

Attached are .svg and .pdf files I used in cutting parts for the frame (1st image). You'll need 4 arms (2 with long slots, 2 without) and a central square with a small hole and two tabs

Cut these parts out of 3mm plywood and they should simply slot together and hold with friction (if not a small dab or two of PVA wood glue at the joins may be useful)

Two arms with long slots fit onto the tabs on the central square with the long sides pointing in opposite directions and the small edge slots pointing upwards. The other two arms should fit neatly down on top again with long sides pointing in opposite directions (as 2nd image)

Step 2: Add a Small Hanging Hook

The central hole should take a metal threaded hook with a screw fixing - just screw this into the hole

Step 3: Finishing the Frame

The hook will likely protrude from the lower side of your frame so cut a short length (24mm) of 12mm x 24mm strip wood and mark the centre of one surface. Drill a small hole partway through and add a small dab of PVA wood glue to this surface. Screw this onto the protruding length of hook thread to cover it

Step 4: Add Your Danglies

You can go hog wild with what you want to hang from this - I tried out a few options both in origami and in simple slotted together shapes - origami cranes, jet display team, Battle of Britain dogfight, pterosaurs,... as pictured (you get the general idea)

Shapes were painted with a couple of coats of thinned waterborne acrylics

For the origami cranes I just glued the hanging thread inside a fold and secured it with a paperclip until the glue had fixed everything in place. After removing the paperclip it all seemed secure. Planes and pterosaur designs included small holes at the centre of gravity and had the thread knotted securely through that.

All the dangles were then hung from the eyelets at the ends of each arm with a fine thread. Make sure your knots are secure so that it doesn't unexpectedly start raining dinosaurs or fighter planes

That's just about it. Let your imagine run riot. As long as you hang the same weights on opposite sides the whole thing should balance out

Step 5: All Done!

All sorted - just hang securely from the ceiling.


Please keep it out of arms reach of kids as if it gets broken up the hook or small parts may become a hazard

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    2 Discussions

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    Alex in NZ

    7 weeks ago

    Really neat. Thank you for sharing the design :-)
    Could you include a link to where you got the cutting files for the danglies please?

    1 reply
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    funkyalchemistAlex in NZ

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Hi Alex, I just drew them up myself but will dig out the files if they're of use to you