Introduction: Recycled Motherboard RC Quadcopter

Picture of Recycled Motherboard RC Quadcopter

My university had a bunch of old server motherboards that were headed to the dumpster. I decided to see the feasibility of turning them into something useful!

Go ahead and grab the attached pdf plans, print them out full size, and build your own!

Step 1: Prepare the Motherboard

Picture of Prepare the Motherboard

Pop in your earbuds, turn up some tunes, and spend some quality time with your heatgun.

If you have a sacrificial toaster oven big enough, that would probably work as well.

Be sure to save the electronics components! All those capacitors and connectors are pretty useful for other hacking projects.

Step 2: Cut Out the Frames

Picture of Cut Out the Frames

I designed the frame plates in Solidworks, and used a ShopBot Alpha at my local TechShop to mill out the motherboard.

Remember to use dust collection and proper PPE. Milling on fiberglass can be pretty nasty.

Step 3: Assemble the Arms

Picture of Assemble the Arms

This guide isn't meant to be a tutorial on how to build quadcopters. For those, sites like FliteTest are helpful.

I ziptie everything I can. They're plenty rigid for normal flight, but break in a clash, absorbing the impact. I'm using Turnigy 2830/11 1000kv motors. They're horribly unbalanced, but for $10 I'm not complaining.

Step 4: Prepare the Electronics

Picture of Prepare the Electronics

I'm using Hobbyking 20A ESC's flashed with SimonK firmware. Check this guide for help flashing your ESC's.

Then, I soldered all the ESC's in parallel along with a female XT60.

Step 5: Assemble the Quadcopter

Picture of Assemble the Quadcopter

Time to make your connections! Follow the instructions for your flight controller and receiver choice. Here, I'm using a MultiWii Flip 1.5. I use a lot of outdoor mounting tape for securing electronics components.

Step 6: Add the Props, and Fly!

Picture of Add the Props, and Fly!

I don't deal with prop adapters anymore- If you're using cheap chinese motors and props, your setup will be out of balance anyway. Zipties work just as well.

Perform a final test of your systems- electrical connections, motor rotation directions, transmitter directions, and gyro directions. If everything looks good, fly!

This quadcopter flies very well- the frame is quite rigid and handles gusty wind well. The MultiWii flip with the flashed ESC's work great with the default settings. Check out the video for some flight footage!


Techfreakkaadi8800 (author)2016-02-05

plz tell how to make arms

TriciaR1 (author)2015-12-15

can I use the parts from an old laptop?

echang777 (author)TriciaR12016-01-13

You could, although you might need 2 laptops. Really, you are better off looking for G10 or something closely related from your local plastics distributor. It will be lighter and just as stiff.

TriciaR1 (author)echang7772016-01-17

Okay thanks!

echang777 (author)TriciaR12016-01-13

You could, although you might need 2 laptops. Really, you are better off looking for G10 or something closely related from your local plastics distributor. It will be lighter and just as stiff.

ebailey-kelly (author)2015-03-09

Hello I was wondering exactly what battery you used

echang777 (author)ebailey-kelly2016-01-13

The battery is a 2200 mAh 3s LiPo

adou (author)2014-11-29

Hello, a beautifull job ! But what do you utile for lead the drone ?

michaelgc (author)2014-08-20

Super awesome! probably way to complicated for my middle school stem students but I wish...

bvashishtha (author)2014-07-01

what type of controller u r using in it

portalmasterAPO (author)2014-06-29

Wait a second! is the mother board just for the looks or does it have a purpose?

Oh and how much does this cost all together im thinking of making a swarm :D

walelgn (author)2014-06-23

the best

blaccton (author)2014-06-08

this is too cool..would this work with a basic arduino though??

echang777 (author)blaccton 2014-06-08

Possibly, although by the time you interface an IMU board, you're probably looking at more expense than just picking up a $15 Multiwii Flip 1.5 board

OfficialPipsqueak (author)2014-05-26

This is so cool. I built my I own tricopter. But a motherboard Quad?! That is awesome! You should try a KK2.1.5 Board. I have had great experience with them. Plus there only $29 bucks a pop

I have the kk2, and it is a great board. I'm not sure how much better the 2.1/2.1.5 is. Have you compared the two? I ended up trying this flip board since it was only $15, and my kk2's screens and buttons are pretty destroyed anyway.

antennas (author)2014-05-10

What camera did you use on that? How much weight will the copter lift?? Also if I want to build this to learn but hten build another should I get 30A ESC's?

echang777 (author)antennas2014-05-10

Camera for the photos was a mix of my Nikon V1 and my HTC One S phone. You can put a lot of weight on the copter, but your flight times will get lower and lower. I wouldn't put more than 300 more grams on this (no more than a gopro + gimbal). 30A ESC's aren't really necessary unless you want to scale up to bigger multicopters. I will try to upload a template for the frame pieces and measurements for the arms.

echang777 (author)echang7772014-06-03

I have uploaded the plans in the intro section if you are interested in building your own.

heli_guy (author)2014-05-13

Could you post the frame drawing so we could cut it?

echang777 (author)heli_guy2014-06-03

Yes! Sorry it took so long. You can download the plans in the intro section

ke8bg (author)2014-06-03

ok it looks like you're zipties are looped through the motor frame, which would keep the props from moving?

echang777 (author)ke8bg2014-06-03

Nope, these are outrunner motors so the entire bell rotates.

nodcah (author)2014-06-03

Nice job! This instructable can totally apply to many other materials for the body, which is awesome!

antennas (author)2014-05-10

Well done!

M3G (author)2014-05-06

That looks really cool!

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