Introduction: PaperQuad DIY Quadcopter

A few months back, my friend, Kevin, came up with the brilliant idea of melding the art of papercraft with his newfound interest in quadcopters. Naturally, being an engineer myself, I quickly fell into the rabbit-hole that is the multirotor hobby and together we began developing paper frames for our small micro-scale quads.

The basic idea went something like this: After flying the factory-built quads for a while, we began to get curious about altering the configuration -- what would longer arms do? What if we flipped some motors upside down and ran them backwards? What if we made a long and narrow quad? Short and wide? We figured that folding up some paper and gluing it together would be a great way to test these different configurations quickly and cheaply.

After some tinkering, we thought that this could actually become a great activity for kids of all ages (including distinctly adult-looking ones) -- it's inexpensive, offers endless possibilities for customization, and is incredibly fun! What's more, if the quadcopter crashes and breaks, you aren't dead in the water -- just recycle the old frame, print out a new one and you're off to the races again.

This Instructable is meant to be a getting-started guide to making paper quads. Feel free to share designs, knowhow, and let's see what comes out of it!

Notes on contests:

We've entered this Instructable into a couple of contests. If you happen to think this project is particularly awesome, We'd be very appreciative of your votes!

One of the contests I've entered this into is theEpilog Contest VII -- We are competing to win an Epilog laser printer, which we would absolutely LOVE to have. We would use it to help speed up the design of more awesome PaperQuad templates. A laser cutter would save us loads of time, eliminating the need to cut each piece out by hand. This would be huge for us!

Many thanks to all of our supporters thus far. We never imagined finding such a great group of people!

Step 1: Getting Started: What You'll Need.

Getting started making a PaperQuad is pretty easy and inexpensive. Kevin and I have developed a kit with everything you need to get started:

Click the button below to get a kit:

If you want to use your own parts, you'll need:

  • Flight controller
  • 2x clockwise motors & matching props
  • 2x counter-clockwise motors & matching props
  • Battery
  • Transmitter (remote control)
  • LEDs (optional)

    We recommend salvaging the above components from an existing toy-grade micro-quadcopter (look for 7mm or 8.5mm direct-drive motors). Brands like Hubsan, UDI, or Blade, etc. are great parts donors.

    Some tools and materials you'll need if you're planning on using your own electronics:

    • Small Phillips screwdriver
    • Soldering Iron
    • Solder
    • Small wire clippers


    • Card Stock (we use 110lb)
    • Printer capable of printing on the card stock
    • PaperQuad template (download the PDF attached below)
    • Scissors
    • X-Acto knife
    • Toothpick
    • White craft glue
    • Double-sided foam tape
    • Clear Tape
  • Step 2: Assembly: Cutting Out the PaperQuad Template

    1. Download the basic PaperQuad PDF
    2. Print the template out on a sheet of card stock (we use 110lb card stock, but some printers may have trouble with it, so find what works best with your printer.) Note: The pieces are arranged on the page to indicate (roughly) where they fit together.
    3. Cut out the pieces with your scissors and X-Acto knife.
    4. Score the dotted fold-lines lightly with your X-Acto blade. This will help make the folds neat and crisp. Be sure to make note of mountain vs. valley folds.

    Step 3: Assembly: Folding & Gluing the PaperQuad Template

    Once all of the pieces are cut out and scored, it's time to start folding and gluing.

    1. Place a thin bead of glue on the tabs you'll be gluing together. We recommend only gluing 2-3 tabs at a time.
    2. Spread the glue across the tab with the toothpick and remove any excess.
    3. Position the tab into the correct position and squeeze lightly to create a solid bond. If you've used the correct amount of glue, a bond should be formed almost instantly.
    4. Continue until complete!

    Sometimes you will need to use tools to ensure the pieces are bonded together well -- be sure to experiment with scissor blades, popsicle sticks, X-Acto blade handles, etc. to get into tight spots.

    Step 4: Assembly: Mounting the Electronics.

    Kevin and I disassembled a Hubsan X4 H107L Quadcopter for ours, but just about any micro-quadcopter should work (**Note** We will not be held liable for any voided warranties or broken components if you do so), here are the basic components you'll need:

    • Flight controller (FC) This is the chip that houses all of the sensors, the microprocessor, and motor FETs (in the case of most small quadcopters). The battery, motor and LEDs all attach to this chip.
    • Motors with matching props -- 2x Clockwise, 2x Counter-clockwise
    • Battery
    • 4x LEDs (optional)

    You can find Hubsan X4 disassembly instructions HERE

    With these components:

    1. Mount the flight controller using double-sided foam tape into the cutout on the belly of the quad frame. Note that the microchips are on the top of the board. Make sure these are oriented correctly
    2. Tape the motors into the motor cradles at each corner of the frame. Be sure they are positioned correctly!
    3. Tape down the wires so that they will not be damaged by the spinning props.
    4. Secure the battery onto the belly with tape.

    Step 5: Complete!

    Once you've assembled the paper template and mounted the electronics, you should be ready to fly! Please fly your PaperQuad responsibly.

    If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to post here, and I'll do my best to answer them!

    First Time Author Contest

    Runner Up in the
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    Epilog Contest VII

    Participated in the
    Epilog Contest VII