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Alternative Scratchbuilding Materials

NineZeta

Junior Member
#1
Hi everyone,

I realized some people (myself included) don't have easy access to common scratchbuilding materials. Things like EPP, Depron and good Balsa are pretty difficult to find from where I live. Usually one guy out of a city of 11+ million people will be smart enough to import a limited quantity Depron or Monokote (in 2 colors) and more often than not the stocks are out before others even get the chance to see his online ad.

So my question is assuming I live in a place with no foam (all kinds: EPO, EPP, Styrofoam, Foamboard, Pink Foam, Depron...etc), no balsa, no carbon fiber and fiberglass resin, can anyone suggest other materials (household or otherwise) one can use to create a fully functional rc plane with normal plane parts? I saw some videos of flying dinner tables and so on but, although very innovative, it's not what I'm after. I just want to create a basic trainer type RC with airfoiled wings and elevators and the usual parts without resorting to the materials I've mentioned.

So far I've used the following : my mom's umbrella (used the wires and the covering to make a wing), sheets of x-ray film (tough, flexible plastic sheets but somewhat heavy), and cardboard (which is terrible to work with). All kinds of suggestions and ideas are welcome. Thank you!
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#2
Floppy disks are a favorite of mine for hinges.
As a kid I made planes out of cardboard and saran wrap. They did not last long but did teach me a thing or two about how to construct an airplane.
Regular Toothpaste (non-gel), once dried up, could be used as a form of spackle for making fairings.
When elections are over run out and gather as many of the coroplast signs as you can. Its like cardboard but plastic. VERY durable and you can make some basic airframes from them with your glue gun.
I've seen plastic rain gutter tubes used as fuselages.
I personally use tissue paper and WBPU as a covering so I do not see why you cannot use WBPU (or watered-down carpenter's glue) with cardboard to weatherproof it and strengthen.
Left over styrofoam meat trays
I've gone to the local sign shop and picked up some laminating material that works very well as an iron-on covering. I use my household iron for it too.
2 or 3-liter soda bottles make great material for vacuum forming your own parts
I use old IDE cables from a computer to extend my servo wires. Cut off three and solder.
Save EVERY Popsicle stick from every pop.
Aluminum ducting tape can be used for a metallic finish but only on larger models. Its a bit heavy.

Anything else come to mind later I'll chime in.
 

colorex

Rotor Riot!
Mentor
#3
Floppy disks are a favorite of mine for hinges.
Regular Toothpaste (non-gel), once dried up, could be used as a form of spackle for making fairings.
I personally use tissue paper and WBPU as a covering
2 or 3-liter soda bottles make great material for vacuum forming your own parts
I use old IDE cables from a computer to extend my servo wires. Cut off three and solder.
Awesome stuff! I'll try to use the ones I left above.
 

Craftydan

Hostage Taker of Quads
Moderator
Mentor
#6
Actualy there are a few people who have make IFOs out of good umbrellas -- fiberglass rods for frames, fabric for the covering.

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze11fhh7/index.html

But for sanity's sake, don't use your moms ;)

Corroplast (corrugated plastic, used in advert. signs) is on the heavy side, but very useable.

Have you considered re-purposing kites? If you pick the chepo kites carefully, you can get good, inexpensive materials from them: plastic sheeting, FG rods, CF Rods(!), mounting brackets, streamer tails (just cause they're cool).
 

tramsgar

Senior Member
#9
Computer (equipment) power cables are somehow always in surplus, and usually they're good for quite a few amps. Also switches and leds from old consumer electronics can come in handy. Single use chop sticks from Chinese takeaways. Magnets and bearings from dead hard drives. Used to chew old HK cardboard boxes to a pulp that could be used to mould a plane fuselage to any shape. Well maybe not.