How To Build a Cardboard Quadcopter

Step One – Cut The Pieces Out

The major consideration when cutting out the corrugated paper parts is to make sure the corrugation pattern runs it different directions for the different layers. This helps to create an internal truss structure and makes the beam considerably stronger once assembled. Note also, that how evenly the layers are glued together will affect the strength of the beam dramatically.

This generally makes for a less-than-efficient usage of cardboard unless one is cutting out a dozen or so quadcopters. Cardboard is cheap though, so it shouldn’t hit your wallet too hard.

The corrugation patterns should look like so when they’re all stacked up. Sometimes, as is in the case of parts from ponoko, you may not be able to get the corrugation pattern to line the way you want it to. This is okay. The order and direction of the layers isn’t that crucial, just that they change angle between layers.

For the motor mounts, which are just little tabs that screw into the back side of the motor, I used ABS. It cuts great on a laser, usually in a couple passes. ABS is extremely impact resistant, but it does have two undesirable properties: it smells really bad when cut, and it’s susceptible to long term UV damage. Use proper ventilation, and wait a few minutes after your done cutting before opening the laser bed door. It will smell for a few days, but eventually will be tolerable.

The motor mounts can be made out of pretty much anything, you could use aluminum bar stock from the hardware store, and drill out the motor mount screw holes. You could laser cut heavy tag board, or acrylic. Anything that is reasonably stiff will work. You could even use 1/8″ plywood, but ABS or aluminum will last the longest.