AMS Spring 2023

Part Yo-Yo, Part Drone, This 3D Printed Toy Is Very Impressive

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yoyodroneI was one of those kids who, when Marchon came out with the Yo-Yo Ball in 1992, was pretty excited for the “auto-return technology” for these round toys that could be thrown like a standard yo-yo would definitely come back, unlike the real thing (for me, anyway). I would play with my Yo-Yo Ball, amused for a few minutes that a yo-yo would actually function for me, but then…that was it. Lacking real yo-yo prowess, I was then left to simply sit back and admire the skills of true yo-yo aficionados who could “walk the dog” or do any number of other cool tricks that were beyond me (and definitely beyond the Yo-Yo Ball, which has been collecting dust for 23 years now in a closet somewhere).

While the original yo-yo dates back to at least the 5th century BCE, significant modifications have been made in the basic design since, adapting them for both the inept (me) and the truly skilled tricksters. Modified designs include changing the shapes of the discs, the knots used for the string, the string’s length, and materials used to create the best-balanced, most aerodynamic yo-yo possible.

photo-originalAmong the latest in yo-yo introductions is John Christiansen’s new, patent-pending YOYOdrone, for which he relied on 3D printing to create fully functional prototypes.

Christiansen, a quantitative analysis professional working as Walmart’s director of risk management, financial strategy and controls, has found that his true passion lies in inventing, as his “mind asks different questions about the possibilities in life.” While he took the more straightforward career route, earning an MBA and going into business analytics, the spark of invention never left him.

“Until now, I have not produced a commercially successful invention. I think the flying yoyo could be the first,” Christiansen notes. “My aspiration with the YOYOdrone, is to turn it into a business which I can run with my family.”

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Doc Pop shows off the 3D printed YOYOdrone

Christiansen’s YOYOdrone is a unique take on the yo-yo, bringing flight into the equation as the small device is equipped with propellers. After several iterations, Christiansen came up with a 3D printed prototype of the YOYOdrone as a proof of concept, and sent it to Doc Pop (who makes it clear that he “does not know him personally”) to test out and get some more, unbiased feedback. Doc Pop’s YouTube channel features “A random assortment of yo-yo, music, and whatever videos” showcasing some unusual and interesting popular products, so he certainly seems a good choice in having play-tested the YOYOdrone.

“It’s basically a yo-yo with propellers on it, so you can throw it sideways and generate lift as it spins. John sent me an early prototype to play with and I love it. In this video I talk about how it feels, some tips on how to use it, and my predictions for [its] future,” Doc Pop says of the YOYOdrone.

Check out Doc Pop’s testing and thoughts, including some attempts at yo-yo tricks with the unique flight abilities of this propeller-driven device.

“I also threw some tricks in at the end, which are pretty rough right now, but I believe will be much easier with the final model (rather than this 3D printed prototype),” noted Doc Pop.

The 3D printed prototype does, though, certainly look to fly clearly and cleanly–and at just 28 grams (“about half the weight of a regular yo-yo,” Doc Pop points out), it already weighs about what the final version is expected to, which is shown to work quite well.

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John Christiansen flying his YOYOdrone

The tooling costs for the final product, though, are higher than Christiansen can handle on his own, so he’s running a Kickstarter campaign now for the YOYOdrone, seeking to raise $45K by July 15th. He’s offering the YOYOdrone in both black and white models, which are built and thrown differently, and at the $15 backing level you can get one of either–or, for a $25 backing, the reward is two YOYOdrones, one of each color. You can also check out the YOYOdrone Facebook page for more information and updates.

What do you think of the YOYOdrone? Does this look like the next yo-yo for you? Let us know what you think in the YOYOdrone forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

Christiansen screen grab2

doc pop screen grab3

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