Cardboard framed tricopter

Talk about reducing the costs of a build, this tricopter uses cardboard as a frame and has one less motor than its quadcopter relatives. There are almost no details other than those shared in the video after the break so we’re just going to guess based on what we see (feel free to share your own insight in the comments).

The smooth curves of this integrated landing pad makes us thing the frame was cut either with a CNC device or a utility-knife wielding ninja. Two of the three motor supports look just like what is shown above, but the third has a hinged mounting bracket attached to a servo motor. This way the propeller can be tilted around an axis running parallel to the support arm. We’d bet this feature is mainly for adjusting the yaw of the aircraft.

The video comments mention that this can hover when the throttle is at 45%, showing that there’s a lot lift available when needed. That is until you really weigh it down by adding plastic cages around the propellers. It’s kind of neat to see the thing ‘sticking’ to the ceiling at the end of that clip by driving the throttle wide open and using the cages as top-sided landing gear.

[Thanks Carter]

17 thoughts on “Cardboard framed tricopter

  1. Cardboard… Almost as useful as duct tape when hacking things together (Not to mention cheap and plentiful). Very nice work.

  2. Wonder what the logic is for going “3” instead of “4”? Just the cost of the extra motor?

    Seems less stable then most Quads.

    Also wonder about the cardboard. Basswood is light, cheap, and several times stronger. RCer’s use it all the time.

    1. To talk a bit about the reliability of 3 over 4, farmers used to buy 3 legged chairs instead of 4 so if 1 was shorter it would not wobble and it apply to thisto beause of where they are mounted if the are off thy won’t counter eachother from displacement and cause issues besides a tricopter that looks a bit lob sided and it will fly fine

  3. The most expensive parts on a Tricopter are still the controller, IMU, motors and the servo. There are plenty other cheap (and probably easier to work with and likely more durable) materials than cardboard.
    While this is interesting from a builders point of view, I don’t think that the amount of money you (maybe) save by using card board is reason enough to not use a more conservative material for the arms like -say- 10x10mm wood profiles.

  4. I’ve used cardboard in several of my projects the trick to making it nice and stiff is to impregnate the area needed or the “frame” as whole with super glue.. the cardboard kinda wicks it up as you go along it and you’ll notice a slight color change as the cardboard gets infused with the glue.. doesn’t really add much weight which is a plus also!

    also normal super glue works fine but r/c style CA glue that can be picked up at hobby shops is best and you can get the stuff in different thicknesses the thinner the glue the better.

  5. Best quadcopter ever.

    In all seriousness tho. That is pretty cool. To the guy commenting about stability, I suspect the control on this one is completely manual and the lack of gyro/accelerometers is probably the source of the instability.

    RE: Disappearing act I don’t really know why you mentioned that, its clearly a product of the way the video is edited, no funny business going on here.

    RE: Cardboard vs other materials, its probably what he had on hand and what others reproducing his work will have on hand.

  6. The smooth curves of this integrated landing pad makes us thing (sic) the frame was cut either with a CNC device or a utility-knife wielding ninja.

    Oscillating CNC knife cuts through cardboard like butter. Laser cutters do as well but they leave a burned black edge.

  7. Warning: The audio blasts in right after all the still frames are done. If you are using headphones, beware. Although, you probably watched the video BEFORE reading the comments, so this may have been a fruitless endeavor.

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