This instructable will show you how to make a radio controlled paper plane for cheap!
It takes inspiration from Peter Sripol's guide on making an RC paper plane, however builds upon what he did by using a cheaper quadcopter, and using a design which removes the need to do any soldering.
By doing so, anyone can make this with basic hand tools and mostly things you'll have lying around the house!
The up/down stick of the drone controls the throttle of the plane. The left to right stick turns the plane. As it has no rudder, it turns by varying the motor speed on each side. There is no elevator control, however increasing the planes speed makes it go up, whilst reducing speed will allow it to glide down.
- Nano sized quadcopter - I used this one from Kogan which was $9, it's often on sale at that price. You can use any other cheap tiny drone, like this one or this.(The smaller the drone the better. You may need to adjust the size of the foam pieces for other drones though)
- Foam board or foam takeout container (we just need a lightweight, somewhat rigid, flat material, even cardboard might work) about 2cm X 7cm
- Hot glue or super glue
- Standard sheet of printer paper (It is A4 size in Australia)
- Sharp knife
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Step 1: Gather Your Parts!
Step 2: Drone Deconstruction
- First we are going to take apart and prepare the parts we need from the drone.
- Unclip/remove the protective guard if yours has one. Undo the screws.
- Remove the props, remember which prop goes where, take a photo beforehand or place the probs to the side whilst maintaining their order. Take note of the orientation of the quadcopter (on this one, the power switch is at the back). Open up the case.
- On this one there are tabs to unclip on each arm before the top can be pulled open.
- After undoing the tabs it should lift up.
- Next we have to release the motors.
- Use your thumb to push them out.
- After they have come out a bit you can pull them up and out, be careful not to damage the wires.
- Once the motors are out you can remove the mainboard too.
- You should have something that resembles this.
- We have to remove the front motors, use your knife to cut off the wires being careful not to damage anything else. Make sure to take note of quadcopter orientation, we are removing the FRONT motors.
- Put the propellers back on. Using the opposite sides. So put the left-rear propeller on the right-rear motor, and the right-rear propeller on the left-rear motor.
- It should look like this.
Step 4: Making the Motor Mount
- Put the motor assembly aside, get your piece of foam or takeout tray, and mark it with the dimensions shown in the image above.
- Cut out your 2x5cm and 2x2cm piece, and cut the notch into the 2x2cm piece.
- If you are using foam with paper, peel off the paper, or you can leave it. I left it so I can see my markings.
- Apply a line of hot glue as shown.
- Glue the small piece onto the large piece, as shown, try keep it at 90 degrees, but it doesn’t have to be exact.
- Deepen the notch we cut so that it is flush with the base of the larger piece.
- Apply hot glue to the end of your foam piece.
- Stick one of the motors on as shown and let it set. (Take note of orientation of everything, make sure it will fit as shown in later photos. The orientation of the quadcopter board and motors is critical. I am keeping the left motor on the left, and the right motor on the right, with the quadcopter board being horizontal, and the front of it pointing forwards, while the motors are pointing backwards.)
- Stick on the other motor in the same manner.
- Use some hot glue to secure the mainboard as well, be careful to not get the power switch or charger connector.
- It should look like this.
Step 6: Folding the Plane
- Put that aside and get your standard sheet of paper (A4 in Australia). We’re making a standard dart style paper plane, with a few modifications.
- Fold it in half making sure the edges line up.
- After every fold, run a solid object over the edge to strengthen the fold.
- Open the paper back up.
- Fold a corner in until its edge lines up with the fold line.
- Do the same with the other side.
- It should look like this.
- Fold an edge over again so that its inner edge lines up with the middle fold line as shown.
- Repeat with the other side.
- Use small pieces of tape to tape down the edge of each side as shown. This keeps the wings uniform and helps the plane fly straight.
Step 7: Finishing Up
- Fold the plane together in the middle.
- Fold down one side to form a wing.
- Repeat the same on the other side, lining up the wings so they are the same size.
- Your plane should look like this once you open the wings a bit.
- Use scissors to cut small flaps into the wings as shown, to form a makeshift elevator so we can trim how the plane flies.
- It should look like this, bend the flaps ever so slightly upward, you may need to adjust this later on.
- Find the centre of mass of your plane, it will be around where the line from the wings meet.
- Attach the motor arrangement to the plane by inserting the plane into the notch as shown.
- Check the planes balance and if it feels right, use a few dabs of hot glue to secure things.
Step 8: Complete!
For more flying footage check out the YouTube video at the top of the page!
Make sure to charge up your batteries before flying.
Your plane will probably need a few adjustments to the back tabs before it flies well. It does take some time to learn to fly this, so don't be disheartened if it isn't perfect at first!
Put that throttle up to full and give your plane a good throw and give it a try! Fly in a large area at first as the plane can easily get away.
Runner Up in the
Make It Fly Challenge