Autonomous, Cardboard, Rasberry Pi Controlled QuadCopter

Step 1: Materials

Cardboard from the recycling bin,The sheet we we used was 32″x20″ with a thickness off around 4.1mm. A large clean box should do.

Motors from Hobby King, 4x + Propeller clamps,

We used Turnigy D3530/14 1100KV Brushless Outrunner Motor at $14.56 each. Our motors also came with propeller clamps which allowed us to easily connect our propellers to the motors.

Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC) from Hobby King, 4x,

We used TURNIGY Plush 18 amp Speed Controller at $11.90 each.

Propellers from GWS props, 2x counterclockwise rotating, 2x clockwise

We used 3 bladed 8x4x3 GWS props at $2.00 each.

Flight Controller from Hobby King, 1x

We used HobbyKing Multi-Rotor Control Board V2.1 at $12.99

Flight ControllerMounting Pads from Hobby King,

We got a pack of Gyro / Flight Controller Mounting Pad at $1.99 but one can also use double sided tape.

RC Receiver from, 1x,

We got a CSRC-RX3000 Spektrum DSM2 Compatible 2.4Ghz 6-Ch Receiver on sale for $9.99. Any 5 or more channel receiver will do though.

Foam block, cut into 4  2 inch by 4 inch chunks,

Used for a more durable landing.
Autonomous, Cardboard, Rasberry Pi Controlled QuadCopterCyanoacrylate basedglue,

Anything will work, the thicker the glue, the easier it is to work with. We used something along the lines of this.


We used duct tape for mounting the foam landing pads as well as for low force attachment of electronics.

Nuts and bolts, 16x sets of 1 nut and 1 bolt,

Washers can be used when directly bolting to cardboard, but we found that you did not really need them. We used 4-40 x 5/8 inch nuts and matching bolts.

0.1mF capacitor, 1x

Used in the low pass filter before the Schmitt trigger.

7.87kΩ resistor, 1x

Used in the voltage divider.

8.2kΩ resistor, 1x

Used in the low pass filter.

453Ω resistor, 1x

Used in the voltage divider.

Operational Amplifier (LMC6484) , 1x

Used to create the Schmitt trigger.

Quad 2-Input Mux (74HC157N) from Digikey, 1x

Used to switch between the RC receiver and Raspberry Pi signal.

Section of perf-board

Used to solder the entire switch circuit in a condensed form for the quadcopter.

Battery from Hobby King, 1x

We used Turnigy nano-tech 3300mah 3S 25~50C Lipo Pack at $26.72.

Battery indicator, 1x

This device changes color and beeps if the batter is at low voltage. This is a must have if you don’t want to keep breaking batteries. We used a 3 Cell Hobby King Battery Monitor at $3.99.

BEC from Hobby King, 1x,

This is used to power the Raspberry Pi. We used HobbyKing Micro UBEC 3A / 5v at $3.77.

Servo Connectors, female to female from Hobby King, 4x,

We got a pack of 5 female female from hobby king at $1.65 that we cut in half.

Power Wire, 2x 6 inches high current pieces,

We used 10 AWG red and black that can be bought from hobby king at for $2.99 a meter.

4mm Bullet Connectors, at least 1 male and 1 female.

Casing is nice, so we would suggest HXT 4mm Gold Connector w/ Protector at $3.64.

3.5mm Bullet Connectors, at least 12x

Available in packs of 10 from hobby king for $1.59.

Raspberry Pi, 1x,

We used one of the older model B with 256mb of ram for $35.00. A model A would work and probably better for $25. They are currently hard to buy, you could place an order from a vendor on their site and wait a few months, or just get one from Amazon.

Web Camera from, 1x,

Really any usb webcam with linux support will work. We used Microsoft-LifeCam-VX-5000 for $12.74.

Wifi Card from, 1x,

Any linux supported wifi card should work. We used this card at $13.06.

SD Card, 1x,

We used a 16gb card from amazon at $11.52.

Micro usb cable, 1x,

It does not need to be long, we used a six inch cable at $3.09.


AVR Programming device one from Hobby King, 1x

We first got USBasp AVR Programming Device for ATMEL processors at $4.95. Our board was defective, so we ended up using a Atmel AVRISP mkII In-System Programmer at $34

RC Transmitter, 1x

We used the highly overkill DX8 8CH Transmitter at $429.99. All you really need is 5 or more channels.

3 cell Lipo Battery Charger + Power supply, 1x,

Some way to charge your battery.

Step 2: Cut and Assemble Frame

The entire frame is assembled from laser cut cardboard. Our team was able to fit all of the required parts onto one sheet that could fit in the laser cutter. When designing this sheet, great care was taken to align the parts to match the correlations in the cardboard. If you would like to make your own sheet, you can use our cad located here.
Otherwise you can use our cutsheet attached.
We used a thick Cyanoacrylate based glue to do all of our connections. This gave us both strength and quick dry times.
Be careful when assembling the arms and read through the directions before you start.

Step 3: Frame

Starting to assemble arms.

Step 4:

Bolt motors to cardboard motor mount.

Step 5:

Put some super glue on the threads to lock the nuts in place.

Step 6:

Assemble the other side of arm.

Step 7:

Place other arm plate onto the assembly.

Step 8:

Make the second arm assembly. Be very careful to orient the side plates correctly!

Step 9:

Slide arms together

Step 10:

Base assembled. (upside down)

Step 11:

Side view of base (upside down)

Step 12:

Add on battery holder.

Step 13:

Cardboard squares are then glued onto remaining struts for support.

Step 14: Add on Propeller guards

We first bent thick wire into a U shape and inserted into the quadcopter frame. We chose to use hot glue for this due to its thickness. If you choose to bend the ends up like we did, ensure that the ends have plenty of clearance so they don’t collide with the props.

Step 15:

Use double sided tape/ anti vibration tape to mount the control board to the top of the frame.
Autonomous, Cardboard, Rasberry Pi Controlled QuadCopter

Step 16: Make the power distributor

Take each section of thick, high amperage wire and use a razor blade to carefully strip five sections of about an 2 cm that are about 2.5 cm apart down the wire.

Strip the end of each wire about 1 cm and tin them both.

Make a jig by drilling holes to match the sizes of the battery connectors, so that the battery connectors plug into it nicely and don’t move around. This video shows the process well.

Tin the cups of the connectors by melting solder into them until they are almost full or solder.

Let the battery connectors cool for a little while after they have been tinned.

Melt the solder in the battery connectors a second time and insert the end of the battery wire into the molten solder.

Remove the soldering iron and hold the wire motionless for about a minute or until the solder is completely re-hardened.

Heat shrink over these joints so that you won’t be able to short the battery.

Tin the other exposed sections of wire carefully with your soldering iron set on high heat.



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