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Feb 13, 2004, 09:33 PM
Lagopus lagopus
WillowPtarmigan's Avatar
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Building Electric RC Airplane Out Of Cardboard?

Out of curiosity, has anyone built an electric RC airplane out of cardboard? Sometimes I read people building gas powered RC airplane out of cardboard, like the those of hard posterboards and boxes.
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Feb 14, 2004, 08:46 AM
Registered User
Years ago I built a gas plane from it and it was too heavy. With little or no finish it might work but I am not optomistic. If the cardboard gets creased it really looses strength and it is difficult to repair without a significant weight increase.
Feb 14, 2004, 11:28 AM
Registered User
ronnath's Avatar
look for this thread in the foamies (yep, foamies) group:

"Cardboard Flyer 2nd Gen"
Feb 14, 2004, 06:32 PM
Visitor from Reality
Andy Clancy - Mr Lazy Bee himself - designed an electric "Wright Flier" with the wings and stabs made of die-cut corrugated cardboard. I understand it is sold by Arizona Modelcrafters.

Feb 15, 2004, 02:45 AM
Silent Flight
daveWCO's Avatar

A bunch of folks have done it.

My favs are the real, flying pizza boxes!

Run a search on'em.

Feb 15, 2004, 03:30 AM
Registered User
Spaaro's Avatar
I've devoted most of my flying model building to variations on cardboard construction.

Folded cardstock & corrugated sheet laminated with WBPU or laquer acryilic then fretted out,
with minimalist wood & bamboo frames. I also like layed-up matrixes of papers & synthetics, like
variations on IAD's laminated tissue construction technique, to make monocoque fuses.
It is heavier than balsa but only in the sense that fabrication techniques are as underdeveloped
as electric power was to glow 10yrs ago. I find my best fliers for electric systems AUW's are in
the 40 in. & > span size, at least for my abilities.

Sorry...I'm ill positioned to post any of my constructs as proof-of-concept and admit not having
had a chance to fly any under power as yet(all glider testing w/ simulated loads) . I'm just settling
down to new family life and although my new, next door neighbour is a retired 'Nam vet and avid
gas R/C-er, my small collection of radio gear is back in S. Carolina with my mum. I've only been
building gliders with my son to teach him the basics and refine my build methods.

I've been on the E-zone for about 4-1/2 years, over which time I've learned more than I'd ever have
dreamed from all the members. But my service life abroad has made R/C impractical for my resources.
I'm amazed that 'Hawker' over in parkflyers has been able to develope his foamy-liners while in Iraq!!!

Gonna be a few months before bringing any of it west is feasible. Why, oh, why did I allow myself
to become a 'grownup'?

I hope others who innovate like 'thmtrx' come forward and give you proof, WillowPt.
Feb 15, 2004, 10:06 AM
UN Earth peoples true enemy
treehog's Avatar

cardboard V corex

Cardboard is as heavy as any hardwoods and nowhere near as strong
Its can be done but is probably not worth the troble

Corex is plastic corrigated material and is used in certian kits
Its heavy but at least its stonger and dosnt need painting
a lot of foamies use it for things like tails feateares and airlions

Is it difficult in alaska to get model materials

Feb 15, 2004, 10:37 AM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar

Making Silk Purses

The problem is size versus air density, a large model can be made light enough in proportion to wing area to fly well using fairly heavy materials, given enough power. Small models, especially electrics must be much lighter in proportion to power available, yet strong, to fly well and survive landings.

You will notice that choice of covering material , wheels, use of epoxies and beefing up of structures has a strong effect on weight/power required/flyability and resistance to landing damage. A heavy model must fly fast for stability and tends to stall and crash during takeoffs and landings.

I speak from experience!!!
May 08, 2004, 11:41 AM
Registered User
I am building my third corrugated cardboard model, a large biplane. The first was underpowered (Brushed "Can" motor & NIMH), the second still flies beautifully (brushless & NIMH) , the third will use an Endoplasma (buggy motor) and NIMH.

Obviously, if you use cardboard incorrectly it will not fly. However, if you use it cleverly, (in combination with foam trays, coffee stirrers and shrink wrap) , and put a modern power plant on it, you can build a plane that flys and looks great, is very repairable, and costs nothing. The latter is very important. This hobby can get way out control cost wise (to where it is unaffordable) if you are not carefull to control costs. After all, the hobby is about propelling expensive and fragile objects about at high speed hundreds of feet in the air.

The main attribute of cardboard is that is sucks up common wood glue (like balsa). That means if you put two pieces together, the glue reinforces the edges, making the joint the stronger than the whole. Foam will not do this. It is always weakest at the joints, which makes for poor assembly strength. Also, foam crushes and disintegrates in a crash, making repairs hopeless. Carboard crashes like balsa, you can gather the parts, and glue them together again, stronger than before. This is important since a one crash airplane is not worth the effort of building it.
May 08, 2004, 12:54 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
The fuselage pod is 3 inch mailing tube. Builds in about an hour. The other stuff is real airplane parts.
Carries a camera.... Casio Exilim 3.2M
May 08, 2004, 07:15 PM
Seems like it would weigh a lot, but I have seen some
May 08, 2004, 07:52 PM
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Radiofly's Avatar
Check out this website addressing the feasibility of cardboard airplanes. Good practices can make up for less than ideal materials.
May 09, 2004, 10:57 PM
Registered User
The Acebird site is interesting, but it is about gas planes. With that kind of power, carboard can be used unsparingly, which he does. I am strictly electric, so lighter weight was necessary. First I tried 400 "can" motors with NIMH, and had some disasters. Not enough power to weight. Then I went to Brushless and NIMH, and bingo, success. If you take the next step, Brushless and LIPO, it will be exceeding easy. So bottom line was pre-brushless, cardboard was not an option, balsa was king. Now its quite viable.

see these urls for my electric cardboard posts.
Sep 01, 2008, 07:22 PM
Try it I have built cardboard models that have flown just make sure to reinforce the wings- A split arrow shaft often does the trick.
Mar 18, 2014, 08:22 AM
Registered User
I have recently completed a homemade RC cardboard plane which I nicknamed the "Flappy Bird". The motor and ESC are from a WOT 4 Foam e.


RC Cardboard Plane (4 min 46 sec)


Hope you like it, it was all guess work and I did not work from any plans. This is my first attempt at a self build and I was quite shocked when it actually flew!

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