Mechanical dragon entered at Singapore's Amazing Flying Machine Competition

Mechanical dragon entered at Singapore's Amazing Flying Machine Competition
TAKING FLIGHT: Team members (from left) Albert Jhoni, Kaung Koko, Zheng Hao Lee and Anthony Jhoni with their flying mechanical dragon, Hunter.

This flying mechanical dragon looks like a bird in flight, so some real birds flock to it.

Ironically, Hunter was invented to chase away birds.

With its flapping wings, Hunter was one of the more interesting entries yesterday at the yearly Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition (SAFMC).

Into its seventh year, the contest encourages the general public to create flying machines in different categories, including paper planes, gliders and radio-controlled planes.

Hunter, which is into its 19th prototype, started out as a final-year project for a team of Singapore Polytechnic engineering students: Mr Kaung Koko, 22, Mr Anthony Jhoni, 22, Mr Zheng Hao Lee, 21, and Mr Jhoni's brother Albert, 18.

Now serving national service, the three older team members are still passionate about aviation and continue to tweak the design of their "baby".

The project started in 2012 and there were many ups and downs. They achieved a major breakthrough when they repositioned the two tails, which helped with the lift-off.


Team Hunter is the polytechnic's first team in four years to successfully enable "controlled flight" using a flapping wing platform, said Mr Duncan Sih, 36, a lecturer at the poly's school of mechanical and aeronautical engineering.

The team's efforts were rewarded with a Gold Award at the 2013 SP Engineering Show.

Mr Koko said: "That award inspired us to go further."

The team used 3D printing - Mr Koko has a 3D printer at home - to make some of Hunter's parts. The project cost about $2,000, $500 of which came from the four men's own pockets.

Other than scaring birds away to prevent bird strikes at airports, the team is also considering the possibility of deploying Hunter as a spy craft disguised as a bird.

Team Hunter is one of 30 teams that took part in the "unconventional" category of the SAFMC.

Jointly organised by the Defence Science Organisation and Science Centre Singapore, SAFMC is to provide local youth with a platform to "unleash their creativity and ingenuity" in science and technology, said Mr Tan Soo Kee, head of the outreach department at DSO National Laboratories.

This year's competition will see 331 teams, with eight teams from Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The contest results will be announced on March 21.


This article was first published on March 13, 2015.
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