Flying Puppets

The Foam and Tape Cub

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The Flying Flea

The Jules Verne

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Carl is on the cover of the May 2010 issue of Model Aviation, demonstrating his latest straw-and-tape RC box kite:

Model Aviation, May 2010

Visit Duane Drake's Hobbies & Crafts page for information about winding brushless motors.

Enter the world of very-light radio-controlled model building with The Foam & Tape Cub Book on CD

The Foam & Tape CubWith this book you can build and fly a radio-control model airplane.

The Foam & Tape Cub is the best flying and most practical "park flyer," quiet and safe to fly almost anywhere.

The cub flies so easily beginners are flying with confidence within minutes. The performance and harmony of control make experts rave.

Best of all, the Foam & Tape Cub cannot be destroyed. You can wear it out, but it can always be fixed or rebuilt. Major crash damage can sometimes be fixed with a little tape, and you're flying again within a minute.

"I could never build anything!," several adults said. Within weeks of finishing their first cub they were designing and building their own airplanes. They flew great.

WWII L4A GrasshopperThis is a completely new way of building...foam take-out food "doggie boxes" and tape. No glue is used.

It will take you a few days or a couple of weeks to build a cub.

The planes are only a few dollars of basically garbage, but you buy the electonics already made, and that will cost a couple hundred bucks.

"Building models builds character." Making things is magic. You will have fun and learn a lot that will help you in everything you do in life.

Click here to find out more about ordering The Foam & Tape Cub Book on CD.

Foam & Tape Cubs are so tough you can even kick one in a dogfight!

Check out our "Destruction is Nothing" gear.
Click here >

Destruction is Nothing - Learn how to
build your own "indestructible" Cub!
Click here >

New! Download a FREE e-book introduction to Foam & Tape building techniques!

The Foam & Tape Quick-to-Build Delta (FTQD) Glider is made with the same basic methods as advanced projects like the Foam & Tape Cub radio-controlled model. Practicing this building technique will help a lot, and the FTQD will teach you the skills you can use to make models using foam and tape.

Click here to begin.

Boing Boing TV Features "The Jules Verne" in Flight

Xeni Jardin interviews Carl Rankin as he flies two of his creations.

Boing Boing TV link

The Foam & Tape Cub in action...

Karl Heinz Kremer submitted a video of his first flight and, he says "my first serious crash :) I need to make some repairs to the motor mount and the nose section of the plane, but it's still in pretty good shape."

Check out the Foam & Tape Cub Gallery for new photos of Bob Constance (an 82-year-old modeler from Missouri) with his cub and the trailer he uses to transport his ever-growing collection.

Here's a video of the Mama Bear, the largest radio-controlled plane constructed from plastic-wrap, drinking straws and tape ever built.

A giant-scale electric powered radio-control model airplane, the Mama Bear has a total weight of approximately two pounds. Made with drinking straws, tape and sandwich wrap (no glue), this was a simple build, but it's definitely not a beginner project.
  • 82 inch wingspan
  • 18.5 inch wing chord
  • 10.5 square foot wing area
  • 3 ounces per square foot wing loading
  • 2 pound flying weight
  • 6.5 feet length
  • 7.5 inch x 9.5 inch fuselage cross-section
  • Motors used:
    • Sonic Electric SE-2809-910kv brushless outrunner (in the video)
    • First test flights with a dual stator cd-rom brushless outrunner electric motor designed and machined by Duane Drake.
      These are very small electric motors for much smaller planes and one must be very careful not to let them get hot or the wire insulation inside the motors will melt.
  • Propellor: 16.5 inch diameter by 3 inch pitch hand-carved soft balsa from the trash cans at the Apollo 11 model airport in Van Nuys, California(from crashed model "trainer 40" ailerons)
  • Battery: Kokam 1250 mAh 2 cell lithium ion polymer. The newest of the new technology.
  • Radio reciever: Mikro spf-5 glitchless single conversion, 4 channel
  • Servos: (two: rudder/ elevator) Hitec hs-55's
  • ESC (electronic speed control): Castle Creations 25 Amp brushless
  • Wheels: mains: 4.5 inch diameter doggie box foam discs (2 ea.) Exactly like the landing gear on the Foam & Tape Cub except 3 times larger and .055 piano wire struts and axle.
  • Steerable tailwheel: Two lids from plastic half-gallon skim milk bottles. LIGHT blue
  • Pushrods for Rudder and elevators: 5.5 foot long spliced red cocktail straws sliding inside regular straws.
  • Gear and tailgroup rigging: multi-strand sewing thread
  • Fuselage truss x-rigging: Target store brand tape, the same thing the whole plane is built with (no glue used, the straws are only taped together)
  • Prop spinner: carved from the foam that servos are boxed with. Just the right squishyness.
  • Covering: One layer yellow and blue red and green Reynolds kitchen wrap stuck on with glue stick. Not heat shrunk. The wing tips have different colors or else you REALLY can't see which way it's flying sometimes because the plane is see-through.
  • Field repairs in minutes after MAJOR crash damage: bamboo skewers and bundles of straws all quickly taped on; rebuilding it is easy later.
  • The wingspar alone took a week to make -- a truss of bundled drinking straws.
  • The whole plane has about 600 straws: 3 250-count boxes @ $1.25 each at Smart and Final grocery stores. The gluestick was more expensive.
The plane is VERY easy to fly but is awkward to carry around and transport and store (the wing is standing in the spare bathtub and the body is in the hot garage). You have to angle the wing to get it through a door. The Mama Bear is definitely not a beginner project. It's "easy" to make, but tons of work. Sorry, I haven't written plans for it yet, but email me and I'll answer your questions.

From the May '07 Airport Journals

Aviation Career Day 2007 Attracts 1,400 High School Students

By Fred "Crash" Blechman

Carl Rankin and the Jules Verne Among those flying very light radio-controlled model airplanes in The Black Sheep Squadron area of the hangar was Carl Rankin, designer and builder of this triplane made from plastic soda straws, thin plastic kitchen wrap and string. It flew perfectly.