Planes, Trains, Bots & Games (and a few gadgets too)

The Hobby Guy

November 12th, 2006 at 6:39 am

Make A (almost) Free Airplane, or, What to do with all the left over U.S. Election Signs.

This past week the United States completed elections across the country for various Federal and local political positions. In the run up to the elections, the American roadside was overrun with political signs. I personally feel this is an environmental tragedy and I am happy at the opportunity to recycle these Coroplast signs into something more useful: free building material for making SPADs (Simple Plastic Airplane Design).

BUHOR is considered the originator of SPAD design and is still the best place for free SPAD plans.
SPAD design focuses on using inexpensive and free materials for building durable radio control airplanes. Many of the designs originated out of combat flying interests and I have seen many SPADS hit the ground at full speed, bounce, and still be ready to fly again.

Building your own SPAD is simple.

  • Find a plan, preferably one that is in your flying skill range. If you are looking for a trainer, the Debonair is an excellent choice. Read through all the documentation and check the forums for hints and tips.
  • Second, gather your materials. Go harvesting for CoroPlast around your neighborhood. A word of advice, please do not take signs that are still useful and important, signs that read “emergency town meeting this week” probably should be left alone. Look for signs from past campaigns or expired signs about the school play. Some towns require political campaigns pick up the signs within a few days. If this has happened already, ask the local Public Works or the campaign themselves for the signs. They will be glad to assist and it will be less signs they have to haul to the dump.
  • Take a visit to your local home improvement or hardware store for the remainder of the items on your build plan.
  • Follow the plans and build your SPAD. Most of the SPAD designs are easily built in a few hours. My CoroWing SPAD was built in under 2 hours, and my sons trainer was built and ready to fly in under 4 hours.

If you can not find signs to recycle, you can buy 4mm CoroPlast sheets from sign shops, such as on Canal street in New York, or online from Harbor Sales. A 4×8 4mm sheet can cost as low as $7.00 USD.
Once you build your first SPAD, you will be impressed. Once you crash your first SPAD, you will be hooked. If you are planning to build a SPAD, or have already built a SPAD, leave some comments and tell us about it.

  • 1

    Good site! I found in +

    Edouard on March 14th, 2007
  • 2

    Enjoyed reading your posts about your choroplast wing with stepped airfoil. I have sheets of 2 mm choroplast, but I read with amazement that you are using 4 mm choro and that the airplane flew well. Please provide more details about your motor, prop, speed control, batteries, servos, etc in one post. What is your range of flight duration?
    Will print the plans on the ezone next and try to put all the details together. Have used Zagi and HS-81 servos and 555 receiver as starting point. May get Unicorn Kan NiMH batteries. Unicorns seem to fly well on low cost Zagi style motor, so may go with that as well for cheaper build. Is this the best way to contact you if I have more questions about your Choro wing?


    Tom on October 6th, 2007
  • 3

    I was using the a brushless UltraFly Frio 10 with speed Apollo 12 controller and I used a 9×4.5 APC prop. You could use a 9×6. Battery was a 3 cell Lipo (11.1V). Performance was good, nice easy flyer – but not the screamer my Unicorn is or a Zagi can be.


    TheHobbyGuy on October 9th, 2007
  • 4

    Hi Paul,
    What kind of speed range is possible with the stock Unicorn. Does it fly well at slower speeds for the time when I would be learning how to fly ailerons and a wing design? Does it have the typical wing tip stall problem and the Zagi death spiral problem? Would it make sense to build the choro wing first and learn with it before doing the Unicorn, or can the Unicorn be flown at lower throttle settings and be a great learning tool as well?

    Tom Smoots on October 11th, 2007
  • 5

    An acquaintance told me about SPAD yesterday, so I’m Googling today. Everyone who writes about it seems to think that everyone already knows about radios, receivers, and servos. I’d appreciate an article that covers those for the complete r/c newbie. Also engine choices. I’m a “most bang for the buck” kinda guy. I’d like something that could be used with multiple planes, etc. but won’t set my back an arm and a leg. What would you recommend?

    Might make another good article. Thanks for the info and links!

    CheekyGeek on November 23rd, 2007
  • 6

    HI CheekyGeek,
    The best place to get a good an all around motor is on EBay. Look for a .40 or .46 size motor (in good working condition). You can usually pick one up for about $35.00. For radios, if you are not familiar with their operation, I would suggest buying new, not used, to be sure it is operation ok. You will need a 4 channel aircraft radio. For around $100 you can get a basic radio, with receiver, servos, battery.

    TheHobbyGuy on November 23rd, 2007
  • 7

    Cool! Peshi ischo

    Gera on November 5th, 2008


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