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structural piece of material or I had to embed a servo into a part of my airplane. It was also sold in a folded, perforated form that was as thin as hobby sheet foam. Arguably the most popular foam for park flyers is Dollar Tree (dollartree.com) foam board. Also known as Readi- Board, this is a polystyrene foam sheet with paper backing manufactured by R.L. Adam’s Plastics (goadams.com).


The paper gives the thin foam board a lot of rigidity and allows the builder to easily decorate the airplane without worrying about melting the foam. Most of the airplanes I own are made of Readi-Board. I use this foam and have recommended it in both my Maker Hangar series (https://bit.ly/2HcUcl8) and YouTube videos (https://bit. ly/2F4JoQ2).


Readi-Board is extremely easy to cut. By removing the paper on one side, it can bend around curves to create complex shapes. What probably makes this foam


so popular is its price and availability. Sold at Dollar Tree for $1 per sheet, Readi- Board is easy to source. The cost of airplanes you build with Readi-Board is usually small, and for this reason I would routinely clear out my local Dollar Tree’s stock of the stuff for my ongoing projects. Although this foam is convenient, it has some drawbacks. The sheet size is only 20 x 30 inches, which is small for many of my designs. The paper backing is also not glued to the foam, so over time, with exposure to humidity and flight stresses, the paper will begin to delaminate.


This often meant that I needed to rebuild the aircraft after only a few flights at my humid Florida RC flying fields. This can be prevented by coating the foam with wood varnish and a sealer, but this adds unnecessary complexity to simple park flyers. The foam is also not very


precise. The thickness and flatness of the material varies considerably among the


The Cessna 152, constructed a few years back, was entirely built from BluCor foam, except for the tail, which was made from Readi- Board. Photo by Max Weakley.


sheets that I own, which has become an issue in my most recent builds. I still think Readi-Board is great foam from which to build airplanes. It’s perfect for beginners and seasoned hobbyists alike. More recently, I’ve been going back to uncoated foam sheets for my new airplane designs. The one I’m using now is Fli-Power Value XPS RC Model Foam (fli-power. com). The sheets are made of expanded polystyrene (do you see a trend here?) and sold in


a box of 16 2-foot x 4-foot x 6 mm sheets. You can buy it through a variety of websites, but the box will only set you back approximately $50. The foam is weatherproof, easy to form, and less rigid than Depron, but more flexible. You can use Value XPS to fold airfoil shapes by adding a layer of tape to support the leading edge curve during bending. (The tape can be removed when the foam is glued in place.) The sheets are also precise and have a large format, which is how I was able to make the modular fuselage of my Buster test airplane and the shaped wing of my Atlatl Glider. I’m not supported by this company, but I can’t recommend its foam enough. I feel like the cost is well worth it for the quality, and I plan to do many more projects with it.


Lucas recommends building his Maker Trainer 2 design (makezine.com/2014/07/25/maker-hangar- 2-07-maker-trainer-2-build) with Readi-Board because it’s easy to use. This airplane was specifically designed around the size of the foam sheets.


I’m sure I’ll find some more types of foam to experiment with in the future. I plan to start building some composite RC airplanes soon, but that’s a story for another time. I hope you got something out of this column. Let me know if I missed one of your favorite foams. Until then, see you in the sky!


THEPARKPILOT.ORG 51


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