Introduction: Duct Tape R/C Plane

Picture of Duct Tape R/C Plane

This is an rc flying wing made from scratch and covered in duct tape. 

This is not a good rc project for beginners. I just wanted to see if this could be done. 

Step 1: Lay-out

Picture of Lay-out

The wing is made from foam board with a carbon fiber spar.

Step 2: Wing Ribs

Picture of Wing Ribs

I drew out an airfoil shape on card stock that was the length of the center of my wing.

Using this as a guide, I drew out each successively smaller pair of wing cross-sections based on the lengths that were already laid out on wing halves.

I made twelve unique airfoil shapes which were used as patterns to trace and cut out from foam core the top and bottom sections of each wing rib. All cuts were made with an exacto blade.

Step 3: Main Wing Piece

Picture of Main Wing Piece

The two wing halves were glued together with white glue and reinforced with 3M Extreme Tape. It's a bi-directional filament tape that is incredibly strong and sticky. I ordered mine from amazon, but I'm sure you could find it in some office supply stores.

I had an old 20" carbon fiber rod that I used to strengthen the wing. It was glued into a slot cut in the wing, and taped on both sides.

Step 4: Ribs Glued to Main Wing

Picture of Ribs Glued to Main Wing

I used white glue to glue each rib in place, top and bottom. Pins were used to hold each piece in place while the glue dried.

Step 5: Trailing Edge

Picture of Trailing Edge

The trailing edge needed a flat surface where I could attach the elevons (which are the steering flaps on a flying wing--a combination of elevator and ailerons). I added strips of balsa for this purpose, which also served to straighten out a little warp that was on each side of the wing.

Step 6: Motor and Mount Assembly

Picture of Motor and Mount Assembly

The motor mount is actually a stud brace I found in the framing section at Home Depot. It worked very well for this purpose. The holes in the little bracket just needed to be reamed out a little so they would line up with the mounting holes on my motor. This was done with a drill bit of appropriate size.

A small piece of plywood was glued onto the wing to anchor the motor mount securely.

Step 7: Onboard Radio Gear Placement

Picture of Onboard Radio Gear Placement

Many modifications were made the the wing to house the servos, receiver, speed control, and battery as seen here.

I knew the general location where everything needed to be based on past experience, but I just guessed where to put everything specifically. I knew if the battery was placed too far back, the plane would be really hard to have balanced without adding more weight to the nose, but if the battery was placed too far forward it wouldn't be protected in a crash.

This set-up worked well in the end, although I did need to add some additional weight to the nose before I felt it was ready to fly. If I was to build this again, I would put the battery just a little closer to the nose, although I would still probably need to add weight to get the center of gravity where it needs to be for stable flight. I found that the CG on the finished wing should be about 5 1/2" - 6" back from the nose, which requires the adding of quite a bit of weight to the nose. (If you build this, let me know how it works for you.)

Step 8: Duct Tape Covering

Picture of Duct Tape Covering

I weighed the wing before and after adding the duct tape. Based on my calculations, the duct tape covering came in at just over 4 ounces. That's a lot of unnecessary weight in just the covering alone, and wouldn't normally be tolerated.

Step 9: Elevons

Picture of Elevons

The elevons are what steer the wing (they function as a combination of ailerons and elevator, hence the name). They were made out of 1/8" balsa, and covered with colored packing tape.

Hinges were made to attach the elevons to the wing with 1" strips of extreme tape. A strip was placed on both the top and bottom of each elevon.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

The radio gear was installed and tested, with the transmitter programmed for delta wing mixing (which is the set-up for flying wings like this.)

The servos were hooked up to the elevons, and I taped over the open areas to seal up the wing.

I added some foam pieces to either side of the battery hole to help cushion the battery and keep it from sliding around. A piece of tape is placed over the top of it when flying, which makes it easy to remove and swap out when it is dead.

Wing tips were also added, which are necessary to keep the wing stable in flight.

Step 11: R/C Gear Info

The total cost of all the radio gear depends greatly on where and what you buy. I've learned that you can save a lot by shopping around. This is a partial list of what I used.

Motor - CF 2812
18A Electronic Speed Control (ESC)
1350mAh Lipo battery (3S, 11.1V)
Prop - 7x6E
3mm prop saver
MG90 micro servos
Extreme Tape


BikeHacker (author)2014-05-14

Does it fly?

seamster (author)BikeHacker2014-05-14

I had a video in the last step at one point, but I took it down because the plane was so far away the whole time you could hardly see it. It flew like a winged brick... but yes, it flew!

DannyKester (author)2017-03-21

Very cool! How did you arrive at the Center of Gravity (CG)? What did it end up being located?

seamster (author)DannyKester2017-03-22


This was several years ago, and I don't remember the specifics other than what I wrote up back then (step 7 addresses cg). I do recall having to flite-test it and make adjustments in the field to zero in on the cg, though. Are you thinking of making something similar?

Malik Al-Sharif (author)2016-07-22

Good, but can i use big battery like 4000 mAh, because i don't want huge wight, and want to fly for long time

akagami (author)2016-01-01

Why is this plane not suitable for beginners ..please reply immediately

seamster (author)akagami2016-01-01

It is a very challenging thing to build a plane from scratch with no definite plans, and even moreso if it is your first rc plane ..please appreciate my reply immediately.

DEEJAY642 (author)2015-09-12

this is INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you would normally pay hundreds for something as good as this

atuls94 (author)2015-02-09

i want the design of plane in pdf

dronolite (author)2015-01-18

what is the diamension of total plane? How big it is and total weight

seamster (author)dronolite2015-01-18

I no longer have the plane, so I can't say exactly. But I believe it was about 48" wide, and the finished weight was around 28 ounces.

babbu_hotmail (author)2014-03-15

PLZ can you tell which radio controlled parts are used

remzak (author)babbu_hotmail2015-01-05

I would use a Hobbyking 4 channel transmitter and receiver (25$), a 30A Turnigy Redbrick ESC (10$), A Turnigy Aerodrive 1000kv brushless motor (30$), a Turnigy Nano-Tech 1000mah 2S Lipo Battery (10$), a USB Lipo Charger (5$), and 2 9 gram Towerpro Servo's (4$). Good Luck and Happy Flying!!!

cdog557 (author)2013-06-18

How high does it go

remzak (author)cdog5572014-12-17

As high as your radio range.

Nick_Tesla (author)2013-07-27

How long does it fly for, can it carry ANY payload?

remzak (author)Nick_Tesla2014-12-17

It will fly for around 10 minutes, but not very well. It could carry a small payload such as a keychain camera. Good Luck and Happy Flying!!!

babbu_hotmail (author)2014-03-15

PLZ can you tell which radio controlled parts are used

remzak (author)babbu_hotmail2014-12-17

I would use a Hobbyking 4 channel transmitter and receiver (25$), a 30A Turnigy Redbrick ESC (10$), A Turnigy Aerodrive 1000kv brushless motor (30$), a Turnigy Nano-Tech 1000mah 2S Lipo Battery (10$), a USB Lipo Charger (5$), and 2 9 gram Towerpro Servo's (4$). Good Luck and Happy Flying!!!

babbu_hotmail (author)2014-03-15

PLZ can you tell which radio controlled parts are used

Arr0gantExp3rt7 (author)2014-01-08

Kinda looks like a mix of a b52 and a taxi

knaylor1 (author)2013-09-03

how much movement are on the ailerthons?

seamster (author)knaylor12013-09-03

I set up my flying wings with about 3/8 up and down. In the neutral position, they are set so there's a little upward angle to begin with.

sgfidlin (author)2013-06-11

Can I use a 1300mAh lipo battery.

seamster (author)sgfidlin2013-06-11

I believe that's what I used. Mine might have been 1350, but pretty much the same.

seamster (author)2013-04-23

The plane no longer exists. I cannibalized it pretty soon after this to use the parts for something else.

However I can tell you about any part of it. What do you mean "circuit out of the plane"? I'm not sure what you're looking for.

sgfidlin (author)seamster2013-04-23

Never mind I figured out what I wanted. But thanks anyways. :)

sgfidlin (author)2013-04-22

Do you have a video of it flying?

seamster (author)sgfidlin2013-04-22

I used to, but it was such poor quality that I removed it. The plane was so far away the whole time that you couldn't even see it. But it flew just fine.

sgfidlin (author)seamster2013-04-22

Okay thanks for getting back to me.

therou (author)2013-03-10

Well, I have another grandson who is very good with RC flying, and he is teaching him the in/s and outs. He is 8 yrs old the one he is teaching that is. Anyway, I purchased 1/2" so will have to return and get the 3/16" not a big deal since I can use the 1/2" for other things. Thank you so much for all of your help. Will let you know how it goes. Hope I did not post this twice was having some trouble with my IE8. Is the white glue elmers glue? Also can't seem to get the reply to work unless I am doing something wrong (charlesac)

seamster (author)therou2013-03-10

I used white elmers glue. I'm glad you're making this for your grandson. I should mention that this is not the best way to start into the rc hobby. This was a silly experimental project for me and although it did fly, I certainly would not classify this as a thing for beginners. It's not forgiving AT ALL if you crash it! There are lots of kits and ready-to-flys out there if this doesn't end up as a particularly positive experience for your grandsons. Let me know how it goes, though!

For what it's worth, I recommend flying wings from Crash Test Hobby for beginners. I have an assassin and a reaper, and they're both great.

therou (author)2013-03-08

This is great; however I don't see how thick the foam core is for the wings or the ribs unless I am mistaken. If I am in error please let me know. Are both 1/2"? I am trying this build for my grandson and think that what you have done is fantastic. Nice job.

seamster (author)therou2013-03-08

Hi. All the foam core is 3/16". Are you building it for him to fly, or just as a thing to display?

benjineering (author)2013-01-15


nprasad5 (author)2012-12-11

really nice and amazing how much do you spend on it? and what isthe type of motors? and programs installed if you send answers for above questions i will be thank for lifetime i pardon y bcoz iam so much crazy about to do this.plz plz plz send to my email id plz dont forget me thnx in advance

Aman Kushwaha (author)2012-12-02 you explain me regarding the radio control laws you are talkin about....
thank You...

seamster (author)Aman Kushwaha2012-12-02

Do people fly radio controlled planes where you live? If so, I'd visit with some of them to learn what you need to know get started in the hobby.

What I was saying is that some countries have varying laws regarding if/where/how you can use r/c equipment, so make sure you know and follow the rules where you live. (For instance where I live, there are certain places where one can and cannot legally fly r/c planes. It's good to know where these places are, and visit with people who already fly as you get yourself into the r/c hobby.)

Aman Kushwaha (author)2012-11-29

I'm a student from India... I wanted to know whether these parts would be available here or not...???

seamster (author)Aman Kushwaha2012-11-30

I think you will be able to find the answer to that better than I can! :)

Check in local shops, search the internet, and ask around. If you cannot find local dealers for radio control components, you can order things online. Hobby King ships worldwide out of China, and has very good prices. Be sure to check your laws regarding the radio control hobby where you live before you purchase anything.  I hope this helped!

yapoyo (author)2012-09-22

How much will this cost to build?

seamster (author)yapoyo2012-09-22

Ah, that's a tricky question. See step 12. For the stuff to build just the plane itself (not including any r/c gear), probably under 20 bucks.

yanadica (author)2012-07-30


seamster (author)yanadica2012-07-30


yanadica (author)seamster2012-07-31


seamster (author)yanadica2012-07-31

It's a Spektrum 6-channel park receiver. I think it's this one.

yanadica (author)seamster2012-07-31

is it only commpatable with the dsmx transmitter...or is it universal to any transmitteer

seamster (author)yanadica2012-07-31

only with same brand stuff, I believe

yanadica (author)seamster2012-08-01

what do you recomend for first timers at rc planes to build

seamster (author)yanadica2012-08-01

see the link in the post I made on April 10 (below). Those are great flying wings, and they take a ton of abuse. You can fly and crash all day long. It's how I learned.

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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