Budget Foam Board QuadCopter Scratch Build

by cacomistle | October 27, 2013 | (14 Ratings) Posted in Projects

 The design is inspired by Mikey's RC's "Cheapest Super Light Quadcopter Frame $5 & 180 grams" http://bit.ly/13I6Xe8, without referencing the original drawing(if there's any).

Thanks for FliteTest's basic instructions in Foam Planes build, and creating this wonderful platform for us! You guys are awesome!


Hi! I'm SJ. I spent this summer playing with FliteTest's scratch build foam board planes. It's just natural that after a while I would want to build a quadcopter with the same material. I searched through YouTube, and found Mikey's RC has already done that, and it looks quite nice in the air. Unfortunately he didn't have any plan to publish the drawings, so I had to start from designing. As an indstrial desinger, I guess my professional skills facilitate that quite well. :)

*Even though the design was inspired by Mikey's cheap foam quad, I would claim the originality of this design and the build tutorial, since It indeed is my own anwer to the question "how to make quadcopter with foam". That being said, I'll be happy to see anyone build this as an indivdule for none commerical use.

I started with modeling the structure in Rhino, a common tool used in the business of industrial design. Playing around with the layout, testing the interences, center of gravity and so on. Above is the final design that I was satisfied with. I decided to use 10inch props on it.

Then I unfolded the 3D structure into 2D drawings for laser cuter. I didn't upload the orginal drawing becasue the foam I can found was 5mm thick, which is different from the FliteTest's dollar tree foam board. It may not be very useful if you want to use it for laser cutting directly.

The drawing follows Flitest's code: black for cut through, red for 50% cut.

Here is the setting used for the lasert cutter Legend 36EXT.

Cutting in progress!

Cutting in progress still... But almost there!


It's quite a small pack to carry. :)

You know how to proceed then. Pop out all the excessives first.

And remove the foam at the folding line.

And apply the hot hot hot glue to folding seam.

Then we have the "fuselage".

I was planning to put power distribution and ESCs through the hatch here. Just for easier access during the build. It won't be opened once everything's in place. So alternatively, you can cut out a rectangular on it and paste it back.

The flite controller mounting deck. 

I'll skip all unecesary repetitions. This is how the frame looks like when finished. NOTE, the frame is not glued together now.

The gadgets I used for this project. The list will be at the end of the article.

The motor mount and where it's going to be mounted. I have cutted holes on the frame in order to have the screws fitted nicely to place. I have wraped some clear tape to the frame parts, to make it splash resistant.

It's pity I didn't took picture of the motor mount, But you'll see from here, that there are 2 identical plates of motor mounts. Once the motor is installed, they would be zip-tied firmly on to the frame(could be seen in the finished photos). 

How the motor looks when in place.

How the motors look when all were in place.

Connected to ESC and power distribution board.

Connect to KK 2 board and the reciever. Test the rotating direction of the motors. NOTE, the frame is not glued together now. 

Set motor layout to X-quad. Follow the direction shown on the tiny screen.

Spend some time balancing the prop is always good.

Fully assembled, ready to fly. I zip-tied some dampening sponge at the bottom of the frame.

The following photos are just excessive.

Parts List:

(Buy from the following link if you want to support me, thanks!)

MT2213-935KV MultiStar Motor and Propeller Combo *

Turnigy Multistar 15 Amp Multi-rotor Brushless ESC 2-3S

Turnigy nano-tech 2200mah 3S 25~50C Lipo Pack

Hobbyking KK2.0 Multi-rotor LCD Flight Control Board

*I recomment these motors a lot. Quite efficent for lifting a quad weigh under 1.5kg. Though I actually used EMAX 2213 935kv motors, which are known as the OEM of the Turnigy ones, just because the multistar ones were backorderd.

PS. I used cheap HK-T6A in the video, but will pick up the fancy FrSky Taranis from the post office tomorrow. :D

PPS. Excuse my awlful flying skill in the video. It's my first time flying a quadcopter. I was so eager to fly it that I used the recommened PI settings.


Miracle Air on November 2, 2013
Great article! Very professional.
Log In to reply
Gryf on November 2, 2013
Sort of makes me wonder if you could do something similar using the foam packing from a new PC, printer, DVD player box, etc. It might not be as strong, but some of those packing pieces are rectangular frames that are just about quad copter sized. Anyway, thanks for posting! That's a cool idea, and a very nice build.
Log In to reply
Xerx on November 2, 2013
Should work just fine, Though you might want to reinforce them slightly.
Log In to reply
cacomistle on November 4, 2013
I agree. With such materials you may have to reinforce it with hot glue once in a while.
Log In to reply
gsgraber92 on November 2, 2013
You have definitely inspired me to build a foam board quad frame. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for taking the time to document!
Log In to reply
cacomistle on November 4, 2013
Thanks! :D
Log In to reply
johanjonker on November 3, 2013
Why use foam? You used everthing that could have made a very very good ply/spruse frame. You could have cnc a TBS frame?

Foam is nice, but if you can get you hands on a cnc cutter why cut foam?
Log In to reply
cacomistle on November 4, 2013
Good point. I would go with FT's design for plywood setup.
Foam quad is a concept that I wanted to prove myself, since not much had been done with it. Besides, for a multi rotor beginner it is much more tolerant to sudden crash. The zip-tied loose mounts, and the foam itself prevent the more expensive gears from being destroyed in a crash. As the benefit of the FT foam planes, even it crashes, it's cheap to fix and rebuild.

Log In to reply
davemcp on August 1, 2015
Any chance of getting you to post a pdf of the plans. I realize that the measurements would be slightly different because of the foam being used but it would at least give a good basis to mod the plans for dollar store foamboard.

Log In to reply

You need to log-in to comment on articles.