Introduction: Domino's Pizza Box Airplane $35

Ever wondered what you could do with your old pizza box..? 

This is an easy step by step guide on how to build your own airplane from an old pizza box! It was a project I did one evening to show what can be achieved with such basic materials with a very low budget, roughly $35 (excluding radio control set)!!

It flies pretty nice and if your power to weight ratio is good enough you can get it to hover too!!

You'll have to let me know how you get on! Happy Building :D, from Phil Reilly and Darren

Step 1: What You Need

Here is a list of parts and tools that are required.


·         Glue gun
·         Craft knife
·         Drill
·         Pen
·         Ruler
·         Scissors
·         Pliers


·         Dominos pizza boxes x2
·         1 large Domino’s pizza, preferably chicken (note: other pizza establishments are available)
·         FC 28-12 Brushless Outrunner 1534kv  $6.45
·         8” slow flyer Propeller 8045R     $2.63
·         Colet 3mm (to attach propeller to motor)  $1.22
·         Brushless motor ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)  $6.72
·         9g servo motors x3    $9.45
·         Radio transmitter and receiver (the transmitter needs elevon mixing capabilities or you need to buy an elevon mixing odule)
·         3 cell Lipo battery (approx. 150g or less)  $9.82
·         45mm acrylic square, 2mm thick (can be any lightweight and rigid material; for mounting the motor)
·         Four m3 bolts and nuts
·         High density polystyrene long block (to mount the motor and prop)
·         Wooden kebab skewers (to connect servo to ailerons and rudder flaps)
·         Thin rigid metal wire (to connect servo to ailerons and rudder flaps)
·         PVC sheet (or any other thin plastic or any other thin lightweight and strong material; for attaching the servo linkage to flap)
·         Gaffe tape
·         Glue for the glue gun

Step 2: Connecting the Electronic Components

- Attach aluminium colet to motor shaft
- Place the propellor on the threaded rod part of the colet and tighten the domed nut using an hex driver or thin screw driver
- Solder the 3 wires from the ESC output onto the wires from the motor. If you find the motor spins the wrong way when you come to power it up, switch two of these wires around.
- Plug the BEC connector of ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) into channel 3 of the radio receiver. Channel 3 should control throttle.
- Plug the three servos into channel 1, 2 and 4 on the radio receiver. These should be the channels for aliron, elevator and rudder.
- To test the electronics: Switch on transmitter with the throttle in the minimum position, plug battery into the ESC (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CORRECT POLARITY). Then you can move the sticks on the transmitter to test the servos. If you're testing the motor before its mounted onto the plane, make sure the prop is taken off. We don't want any cut fingers!!

Step 3: Trimming Excess Weight Off the Box

- Trim a slice off the front of the top of the box next to the warning hot pizza sign.
- Use the glue gun to stick the front section back on. This allows the front of the plane to have an angled face to improve aerodynamics.
- Trim the front bottom side panels to help reduce weight and allow the box to fold up correctly. Use the glue gun to stick the sides of the box up so that the lid can be opened with the base remaining rigid.
- Glue the polystyrene section into the front of the box. This is done by removing a section, creating a hole for the polystyrene to fit in.

Step 4: Attaching the Aleron Flaps

- Cut the top of the second pizza box in half to create two identical Aleron flaps.
- They are positioned on the bottom edge of the plane.
- Gaffa tape is used to stick the flaps to the box, creating a very flexible hinge at the same time. 

Step 5: Attaching the Rudder

- A section of the second pizza box is cut off to create the rudder. The front section of the rudder is glued to the top of the pizza box using the glue gun.
- Additional strips of cardboard are used to support the fixed rudder.
- A rectangular section of cardboard is cut out and stuck to the back of the fixed rudder using Gaffa tape. This is done in the same was as the Aleron flaps. This is the section of rudder that moves when the servo motor is activated.

Step 6: Attaching the Propeller Assembly

- The propeller is attached to the square bit of acrylic using small screws. This provides a greater surface area for the motor to adhere to the polystyrene.
- The glue gun is then used to stick the propeller assembly to the polystyrene strip.
- The wires to the motor can be fed underneath the polystyrene stip and into the pizza box through the same incision created for the polystyrene. 

Step 7: Attaching the Landing Gear

- Use the excess material from the second pizza box to cut out two identical landing gear skis.
- Cut out two profiles as shown in the attached picture. A finger joint was used to attach the ski to the box to create a more stable joint.
- The key function of the landing gear is to allow the plane to sit on the floor with the propellor raised high enough so that it can spin without hitting the floor. Is also helps to protect the plane during landing.

Step 8: Attaching the Servo Motors and Linkages

- Cut three identical U - shaped plastic brackets to attach to the Aleron flaps. Drill small holes along the top of the bracket to allow for minor adjustment after assembly.
- Create the servo linkages using thin stiff wire and kebab skewer. The wire is bent around to create a U-shaped hook before being glued to the kebab stick as shown in the picture. 
- Cut two slots in the Aleron flap to accommodate the bracket.
- Cut two sections in the back of the pizza box to allow the linkages to pass through the box and connect from the servo to the plastic brackets.
- Turn on the transmitter and receiver to centre the servo. Make sure the Aleron flap is in line with the pizza box body to ensure that the servo 0 position is the same as the Aleron flap 0 position.

Step 9: Balancing the Plane and Adjusting Flap Travel

- Draw a line along the width of the box 13cm from the leading/front edge of the box. This will be used as the centre of gravity / balance point.
- Glue gun two pens vertically to a kitchen surface. (don't worry, the glue comes off really easy from a smooth surface!!)
- Remove the lids from the pens to create a single point of contact. 
- Rest the plane on top of the pens so that both tips touch the balance line on the plane.
- Adjust the position of the batteries and polystyrene until the plane balances on top of the pens.
- When the balance point is found, secure all components in place.
- More fine tuning of the balance can be done after your first flight. If you release the elevator stick in mid flight and let it glide, it should glide flat. If it nose dives or stalls a bit, adjust the balance point a bit more.
- Use the elevon mixing function on your transmitter to mix the response from your aliron stick and elevator stick to operate both aliron servos. Moving the aliron stick on the transmitter should actuate the aliron flaps in opposite directions. Moving the elevator stick on the transmitter should actuate the aliron flaps both in the same direction. (If your transmitter doesn't have elevon mixing, you can buy an elevon mixing module that plug in between the servo and the receiver). See videos below for how to set up elevon mixing on a Turnigy 9x radio TX and RX.

- Setup transmitter function called E-Point which sets the range of the servos. The stroke for each flap should be around 2" in either direction. 

Congratulations, your plane is now ready to deliver pizza!!

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