The Quadshot is a remote-controlled (RC) aircraft combining the stability and control of a helicopter with the speed and maneuverability of an airplane. “There’s really nothing quite like the Quadshot,” says mechanical engineer Jeff Gibboney. “No other RC aircraft can take off straight up, hover and fly like a docile trainer and then transform into an aerobatics plane simply by flipping a switch.”
The creative minds behind the innovative technology just won a Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award. Gibboney and his design team learned of the award while researching injection molding. Proto Labs (Maple Plains, MN), which specializes in fast turnaround and runs of less than 10,000 parts, provides injection molded nylon, polycarbonate and PC/ABS parts for the aircraft. Using four independent motors, The Quadshot takes off vertically and hovers like a helicopter, enabling it to pitch and roll in all directions. But at the press of a button it adjusts orientation and zooms forward like an airplane — capable of high speeds and dazzling aerobatics.
The Quadshot uses gyroscopes, accelerometers, and microprocessors originally developed for smart phones. The software is open-source, allowing users to modify the aircraft and its flight capabilities. It can be purchased fully assembled and ready to fly, or ordered in one of three packages that encourage software and build customization. Mounting a camera, additional sensors or flight instruments are just a few of the seemingly endless possibilities.
The Quadshot was developed by Transition Robotics, Inc. of Santa Cruz, CA. The fully assembled version costs $360. It’s built with expanded polyolefin foam with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic and other types of plastic parts. For example, an ABS/polycarbonate blend is used for pylon skeletons
The engineering team had originally selected expanded polypropylene (EPP) foam for its resilience but switched to EPO for the following reasons (from the company’s blog):
- EPO has a much better surface finish than even perfectly molded EPP,
- EPO does not ‘relax’ and deform like EPP can when exposed to the elevated temperatures common in car trunks and shipping containers,
- EPP is molded at a higher temperature than EPO, so the plastic skeletons are more susceptible to being deformed by the foam beads pushing past them in the molding process,
- EPO is compatible with a wider range of glues and paints, both of which are important to building, repairing, and hacking the Quadshot, and
- EPO is stiffer at the same density.
The foam tool is made of two slabs of sand-cast 750mm x 1250mm (~30”x 49”) aluminum, each of which is fitted with 12 CNC-machined and polished cavities – one for each part. The foam molding is being done in China.