Eight-dollar airplane for really bad pilots

Have a habit of hitting the bottle before getting into the cockpit? Find that your mind wanders mid-flight? Lack the hand-eye coordination to keep that RC creation of yours in the air? Worry not, you can build this flyer and crash it with impunity.

[HammyDude] built the RC aircraft out of laminated foam board. He’s had it for years and it’s survived multiple crashes. You can see the one real injury suffered, a snapped fuselage at the leading edge of the wings. He repaired it with popsicle sticks and it’s been going strong ever since.

In addition to the wooden reinforcements he’s covered the fuselage with fibrous packing tape (you know, the stuff with the strings running in it). There’s also a carbon fiber tube at the leading edge of each wing. It’s light, strong, and robust (with the exception of the propeller of which he’s broken about 10).

Check out the video after the break for an explanation of the aircraft, list of materials, and HD images of the patterns you need to make them yourself. The only thing you won’t see is flight footage.

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DIY RC sensor board


Along with hobby electronics, flying RC planes is one of [Diederich’s] favorite hobbies. When out in the field, he prefers to use an Aurora 9 radio controller, and while the remote is great, he was a bit disappointed in Hitec’s telemetry sensor lineup. He says that the sensors are pretty decent, though limited, and he was positive he could build a better telemetry solution.

His sensor board is completely open source, and comes with a long list of features. First and foremost, it emulates all of the messages that can be sent to the radio controller by Hitec’s off the shelf models, making it a simple drop-in replacement. He uses an ATMega8L microcontroller to run the show, including all sorts of input pins and connectors to support GPS as well as voltage and current monitoring.

He has made a DIY kit available for purchase online, but all of the sensor’s schematics and a BOM are available for free, should you desire to roll your own.

We love seeing DIYers show up manufacturers in this way, especially when they share the goods with their fellow hobbyists. Nice job!

555s for your mouse and R/C airplane

[lenny] decided to build a 555-based auto-firing mouse based on a 555 after seeing a similar PIC-based project we posted earlier. Lenny’s version is self-contained in one mouse without requiring a second mouse to act as the rapid-fire button. It uses only a handful of components, costs less than $5 to build, and doesn’t require any programming.

But then, [wfdudley] shakes things up a bit. He added a 4022 counter IC and some diodes to act as logical “OR” gates in order to create a unique blinking pattern (short-short-long) for the lights on a friend’s RC airplane. While this project involves more components, it’s definitely a trickier problem to solve with a 555 timer IC. We love seeing people choosing simplicity in design over popular off-the-shelf microcontroller frameworks as these two have done.

Don’t forget, the 555 Design Contest is still going strong, and you’ve got the entire month of February to submit your awesome designs. We wanted to highlight two of the more clever 555-based hacks that we’ve had in our backlog for a while, though.

RC plane built using pieces of an RC car

This hack’s old as dirt to be sure, but new to us and a great accomplishment. The plane above, which is meant to fly without an operator, has been given RC control thanks to parts from that little car. The transmitter and receiver pair are the obvious transplant, but how do you add steering to a $7 plane that wasn’t manufactured to have that feature? The tail was cut and reconnected with mylar hinges to turn it into a rudder. A rare earth magnet and a coil are also thrown into the mix to provide movement. Basically this is a simple solenoid where the coil pushes against the magnet when energized, actuating the rudder. This in combination with an upgraded motor allows for both speed control and yaw. It doesn’t look like you can control roll and pitch but what more can you really expect?

This would be a nice first step on that path to building an epic flying camera rig.

[Thanks Rob]

R/C airplane motors from computer trash

Here’s something that the R/C airplane crowd might think of as old news.  These directions show us how to rework floppy drive and CD Rom motors to be high power airplane motors.  There are several listed, with details on each, but those unfamiliar might want to start with the most basic CD Rom version. It covers winding your own copper and installing the magnets in the “bell”, putting it all together and mounting it. This is a great writeup for those who haven’t seen this done before. If you want something even simpler though, you might enjoy the homopolar motor post. If you’re more advanced, they have tips for you too on machining and balancing the motors as well as winding density.

Homemade UAV


[Terence Bordelon] sent in his impressive UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle). The hack is a culmination of his other projects. It can be turned to fully automatic at the flip of a switch. It will fly itself to gps way points, land, and take off. The UAV has a range of 100km thanks to his home built RF Unit which runs on ham bands. The brains of the setup is his custom IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). The unit is controlled by his ground station which either allows him to fly it normally or toggle through the various modes.  [Terrence] is also a game developer and has worked on many popular titles such as Zoo Tycoon 2 and Ratchet and Clank.