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.


25 thoughts on “Eight-dollar Airplane For Really Bad Pilots

    1. Hate to disagree, but none of the brushless cd or hdd motors I have are even close to being strong enough for even a rc that light. Now a motor from an rc car that can be bought at goodwill for 1 dollar, maybe, otherwise an inrunner 1500kva would suit it for easy flights depending on drag and weight

      1. Nowadays, hobby quality brushless motors are cheap enough that it isn’t worth it to bother with CD drive motors. However, back in the day, people used to rewind the motors to get enough torque to work as an airplane motor.

        1. I can’t buy motor online and also here where i live no shop for rc available. I completed the rc plane structure and built servos and i built kit by using a mini toy rc card. Fit all of the stuff and now just want to fly . I used a cheap motor less than 1$ but its not brushless. I can’t control the speed. It just starts running at constant speed and it do not fly airplane but it make the plane moves forward real fast. But the plane isn’t taking off properly. My project failed because i can’t buy and i can’t get the parts. I quit today.

  1. “about $8” not including the electronics is somewhat misleading. Someone thinking of getting started in RC stuff (like me) finds this and then quickly discovers the hidden costs of electronics and shopping around:

    BM2408-21 outrunner brushless motor http://www.hobbypartz.com/bmoubrmo.html $13
    Propeller http://hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewitem.asp?idproduct=6229 < $2
    5 channel radio and receiver http://www.amainhobbies.com/product_info.php/cPath/61_433/products_id/191022 ~ $100
    20 amp 7.4v brushless ESC http://www.rcsuperstore.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=EFLA311B&click=2 $42
    7.4v 1300 mAh lipo battery http://www.r2hobbies.com/eng/proddetail.php?prod=eba2S1P201300 < $10
    3x 9g servos http://www.amazon.com/Genuine-SG90-Micro-Servos-Airplane/dp/B0051NBGYK < $25 for 6 of them
    4 plastic clevis – I couldn't tell what kind of "clevis" was being used, but these seem to be less than a dollar apiece
    4 control horns: http://www.hobbypartz.com/coho133ho2pc.html < $2
    pushrods – again, too many to sort through since I'm not really going to build this – < $10

    foam board mentioned: $8

    total price: around $200

    1. Don’t forget, you can always get away with used equipment like an older FutabaFM with a 4Ch receiver for less than $50 off ebay/craigs list. As for the ESC they can be found cheap and/or are EXTREMELY easy to build and there are lots of plans based on ATTiny85’s and other micros.

      For Servo’s look at DealExtreme, takes a while to get them in, but can’t beat the prices. If you plan on wreaking it, just get a few extras :)

      1. Almost forgot, old coat hangers and some ingenious thinking goes a long ways for control horns. Check your local hardware store’s “battery recycle bin” for battery packs that you can rebuild, so on and so fort. Used to build planes from that Pink Foam Board and “recycled” parts quite a bit. Even took some of those $1 store foam planes and retrofitted them with Cox 0.49’s quite a few times. Easy, simple, and cheap…

        Damn, haven’t built/flown a plane in almost 16 years and now I want to do it again :)

    2. Man its not that much at all 200 no way i build these things all the time,4 cheepo servos 9 grams 10 bucks, motor 8, esc,10, prop 2 and adapter, controll wire use piano or saftey wire 3 bucks, and man packing tape for any hinge,2 bucks, hot glue 3, glue gun 3, pop sticks 1, 1 dollar for dg foam board or 2 at wallmart ,knife 1.batt 15 or less.Controller receiver 40 for cheepo china 2.4 this is on ebay btw ,and yes this is all easy to do and make with a lil time and know how or check you tube for build vids. About 100 maybe if you want to go in cheep but remember you get what you pay for.

  2. Never thought of mounting the motor in foam, great tip! I pretty much stopped breaking props when I began to use a prop saver made from a short length of popsicle stick drilled in the center to fit on the prop shaft. Attach it with a couple of prop nuts then slide the prop on & secure it to the stick with a rubber band twisted back & forth over the prop hub & behind the stick. Really helps to absorb the shock of less than perfect “landings”.

    Nice video!

  3. Nice $8 body for a plane (NOT INCLUDING ELECTRONICS) if you have the rest of the electronics lying around already, but kind of a deceptive summary.

    “This video shows an easy to build crash-proof 3D foam RC plane. The plane uses only 8 pieces of plastic laminated foam. Total cost for materials (not including electronics) was about $8. Here is list of other parts: BM2408-21 outrunner brushless motor, GWS 10×4.7 propeller, Hitec receiver, 20 amp 7.4v brushless ESC, 7.4V 1300 mAh lipo battery, three 9g servos, 4 plastic clevis and 4 control horns, pushrods: two 14cm pushrods, one 13 cm, one 15cm. Note that many other motors, ESC, batteries, etc. will work.”

  4. This looks awesome, and I’ve always thought it would be cool to get into some rc stuff – my only question is where can I find a good resource on how to set up the receiver and all that good stuff?

  5. An easier way to do it is to start with a foam glider body, something like this:


    Add some control surfaces (pieces of the rudder and elevator removed and remounted with balsa, epoxy, and fiberglass hinges; ailerons are optional) and control horns, shorten the wings a bit and reinforce the wings with packing tape (heavy duty or fiberglass reinforced is recommended[0]) and epoxy the pieces together. My roommate in college showed me how, and someone showed him years before. The tricky part is mounting the components in such a way as to maintain a good CG.

    Actually, the expensive part about crashes with a styrofoam wonder was the props; the body you could epoxy together many times until it was too heavy to fly, but broken props are pretty much write-offs. It didn’t help that we were using little .049 nitro control-line engines without a throttle…

    R C
    [0] We exceeded the elastic limits of regular packing tape a few times, trying to fly in 10-15 mph winds…

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