Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 15.

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A professional grade MultiCopter designed with a focus on user experience, value and state-of-the-art flight technology.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”          ~Leonardo da Vinci
  

MultiRotor Aerial Platforms are extremely versatile and have an ever growing list of applications for professionals and enthusiasts.  For example:

  • Research and Educational Institutions - Agriculture Researchers, Volcanologists, Control Theory Mathematicians, Wildlife Biologists, Conservationists, etc.
     
  • Civil Services - Search and Rescue, Police, Fire Departments, Lifeguards, Disaster Relief Agencies, etc.
     
  • Journalists & Photographers can now capture dangerous or difficult shots where previously only prohibitively expensive manned helicopters could.
     
  • Inspection & Engineering now can use these vehicles as tools to inspect infrastructures inexpensively, often and with much less effort than manned operations.  
  • Action Sports - Whether your filming a little league game, motocross, downhill mountain biking, skiing or paragliding in the Swiss alps, an aerial perspective will make it epic!
     
  • Joy - while not a commonly talked about as an application, SwitchBlades are truly fun to fly and evoke joy, passion and enthusiasm from not only their pilots but also their spectators.



The SwitchBlade is designed to be an open platform.  Easily & conveniently upgradable, it stands out as testament to a design focused from day one on adding value to you, the user.
 
 

  
  
Product Details     

    
  TriCopter vs Quadcopter

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Which SwitchBlade is right for me?

If you have interest or already love to fly RC and think some aerial filming or other lightweight payload would be fun, the SwitchBlade is your machine.

If you have need for pre-programmed flights, heavier payloads, plan to use it for filming the majority of the time or simply love the beauty of the advanced GPS enabled flight features, then the SwitchBlade-Pro is for you.

SwitchBlade-Pro (flight mode)
SwitchBlade-Pro (flight mode)
SwitchBlade-Pro (transport mode)
SwitchBlade-Pro (transport mode)
SwitchBlade
SwitchBlade
SwitchBlade
SwitchBlade

 
Chassis

Designed from the ground up to balance; ease of use, weight, strength and style.  Milled from aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum and high strength structural acrylic.  This combination strikes an optimal balance between strength and weight. The chassis' aluminum is wrapped in UV resistant vinyl where it is not type II hard anodized, providing a durable long lasting finish.  The arms are spring loaded forward and dampened for a nice solid feel when opening.  The arms are also magnetically secured for quick and easy transition between transport and flight modes.  The payload deck is fully vibration-dampened and quickly interchangeable with three simple wing nuts. 

SwitchBlade Chassis (partially assembled)
SwitchBlade Chassis (partially assembled)

   
  
   
Precision Yaw Assembly

Clean, strong and precise yaw assembly design ensures a consistently smooth and reliable yaw motion.  

SwitchBlade Yaw Assembly
SwitchBlade Yaw Assembly

  
  
  
Drive System
**Updated Nov 12th 2013**

The drive system consists of the Battery, Motor Controller (ESC), Motor and Propeller.  

The SwitchBlade uses a high voltage 4S High capacity 5000mAh matched cell Lithium Polymer battery, heat sink cooled 30A motor controller, 800W brushless motors and 12x4.7in propellers.

SwitchBlade New Drive Components
SwitchBlade New Drive Components
SwitchBlade with New Drive Components
SwitchBlade with New Drive Components
SwitchBlade New Drive (arm)
SwitchBlade New Drive (arm)

The SwitchBlade-Pro uses a very high voltage 5S high capacity 5000mAh matched cell high discharge Lithium Polymer battery, heat sink cooled 30A motor controller, 1000W brushless motors and 14x4.7 carbon fiber propellers.  

SwitchBlade-Pro with New Drive Components
SwitchBlade-Pro with New Drive Components
SwitchBlade-Pro New Drive (arm)
SwitchBlade-Pro New Drive (arm)



Flight Controller

The SwitchBlade comes standard with the KK2.0 flight controller.  Clean and simple to use, the KK2.0 provides solid flight stabilization parameters with easy to use on board adjustability.  Featuring separate modes for auto-level and acrobatics selectable from the flick of a switch on the transmitter.

SwitchBlade Flight Controller
SwitchBlade Flight Controller



The SwitchBlade-Pro comes with the extremely sophisticated second-generation APM flight controller.  Capable of advanced GPS enabled flight features like Return-to-Launch, 3D position hold, Altitude Hold and through the use of a PC, fully programmable hands-off missions.

SwitchBlade-Pro Flight Controller & GPS module
SwitchBlade-Pro Flight Controller & GPS module

            
        

APM Mission Planning Software (by Michael Osborne)
APM Mission Planning Software (by Michael Osborne)

 
 
Radio System

The SwitchBlade (Ready-to-Fly package) comes standard with a robust and easy to use mode two, six channel, 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio and receiver featuring digital trims and switches for servo reversing. (runs on 4x AA batteries)

SwitchBlade - 6 channel 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio & receiver
SwitchBlade - 6 channel 2.4GHz spread spectrum radio & receiver


The SwitchBlade-Pro (Ready-to-Fly package) comes with the Turnigy 9x, a very capable and community supported nine channel, 2.4GHz, fully programmable computerized transmitter with up to 16 model memory and eight channel receiver.  

SwitchBlade-Pro  -  9 channel 2.4GHz radio & receiver
SwitchBlade-Pro - 9 channel 2.4GHz radio & receiver

  
  
Charger

A good charger is key to consistent and reliable flights.  Its also important to flight performance and battery safety that each cell within is properly balanced to each other.  The IMAX charger uses a 12V DC source (ie car battery) to charge a range of battery chemistries, including Pb, NiCd, NiMH, LiFe and LiPo.  It is capable of charging & discharging Lithium Polymer batteries ranging from one to eight cells.

IMAX  Balance Charger / Discharger
IMAX Balance Charger / Discharger

 
 
 
Production Plan
 

Vision Aerial's greatest expertise is in product design and manufacturing.  This expertise combined with the fact that all the unique parts to the SwitchBlade are made either onsite or here locally in Bozeman MT, USA will allow us to react quickly and precisely to changing needs as-well-as launch new products and accessories more quickly.

  • Evaluate and test chassis designs                            - DONE
  • Evaluate and test flight controllers                            - DONE
  • Evaluate, calculate and test drive systems                - DONE
  • Create, and test calibration and tuning procedures   - DONE
  • Source vendors for off-the-shelf parts                        - DONE
  • Source vendors for custom parts                               - DONE
  • Source backup vendors                                             - 90% complete
  • Procure quotes for volume off-the-shelf parts            - DONE
  • Procure quotes for volume custom parts                   - DONE
  • First Production run:                 THIS IS WHERE WE NEED YOUR HELP!
  • Place volume order for packaging                              - immediately after funding
  • Place order for apparel rewards                                 - immediately after funding
  • Place order for off-the-shelf parts                               - immediately after funding
  • Place order for custom parts                                      - immediately after funding
  • Establish logistical systems (ie part numbers, etc)     - while waiting for parts
  • Establish YouTube flight instruction channel               - while waiting for parts
  • Establish workspace and lean manufacturing inspired assembly workflow.                                                                                                    - 70% complete
  • DELIVER APPAREL REWARDS!!!
  • Begin assembling, flight testing each one as they come off the line
  • DELIVER SWITCHBLADES!!!

 
Development History  

Experimentation with 300 size standard RC heli
Experimentation with 300 size standard RC heli
Experimentation with 600 size standard RC heli
Experimentation with 600 size standard RC heli
SwitchBlade_Rev1 CAD
SwitchBlade_Rev1 CAD
SwitchBlade_Rev1 Chassis
SwitchBlade_Rev1 Chassis
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 SwitchBlade_Rev1 Maiden Flight

SwitchBlade_Rev1 Tuning
SwitchBlade_Rev1 Tuning
Wood Test Bed - Load Simulation
Wood Test Bed - Load Simulation
Wood Test Bed FPV Experimentation
Wood Test Bed FPV Experimentation
SwitchBlade Drive & Tuning Equations
SwitchBlade Drive & Tuning Equations
SwitchBlade_Rev2 CAD
SwitchBlade_Rev2 CAD

   
  

SwitchBlade_Rev2 Maiden Flight
SwitchBlade_Rev2 Maiden Flight

   
   

SwitchBlade_Rev2 -  Tuning
SwitchBlade_Rev2 - Tuning

 
 

SwitchBlade_Rev2  MORE Tuning
SwitchBlade_Rev2 MORE Tuning

  
  

SwitchBlade_Rev2 Demo Flight
SwitchBlade_Rev2 Demo Flight


 
SwitchBlade Technical specifications:

  • Weight fully laden with no payload or battery      - 1750g (3.86lb)
     
  • Size (motor shaft span when open)                     - 777mm (30.6in)
      
  • Precision Yaw assembly with metal gear 1.8kg/cm servo
     
  • Battery - 568g, 5000mAh, 4S, matched cell Lithium Polymer
     
  • Flight Controller - Open source, Inertial Motion Based KK2.0
      
  • Switch selectable Auto-level & Acrobatics modes
     
  • 30A SBEC heat sink cooled programmable electronic speed controller.
     
  • 3x - 800W Brushless outrunner electric motors 
     
  • 3x - 12x4.7 balanced Slow Fly propellers
     
  • Recommended payload (including battery)   < 1000g (2.2lb)
     
  • 6 channel 2.4 GHz spread spectrum transmitter with digital trims (RTF package)
     
  • 6 channel 2.4 GHz spread spectrum receiver (RTF package)

  
  
   
SwitchBlade-Pro Technical Specifications

  • Weight fully laden with no payload or battery       - 2000g (4.40lb)
     
  • Size (motor shaft span when open)                     - 777mm (30.6in)
      
  • Precision Yaw assembly with metal gear 1.8kg/cm servo
     
  • Battery - 718g, 5000mAh, 5S, very high voltage, matched cell Lithium Polymer
     
  • Flight Controller - Open source, Inertial Motion & GPS Based second generation APM
      
  • Switch selectable Auto-level, Acrobatics modes, Return-to-Launch, Altitude Hold, 3D Position hold and Pre-programmed hands off missions.
     
  • 30A SBEC heat sink cooled programmable electronic speed controller.
     
  • 3x - 1000W Brushless outrunner electric motors 
  • 3x - 14x4.7 balanced Slow Fly propellers
     
  • Recommended payload (including battery)   < 2000g (4.4lb)
     
  • 9 channel 2.4 GHz computerized, open source, fully programmable with 16 model memory transmitter (RTF package)
     
  • 8 channel 2.4 GHz receiver (RTF package)
      
      
       

KK2.0 Flight Controller Specifications

  • Size - 51mm x 51mm
     
  • Weight - 21g
     
  • IC - Atmega324 PA
     
  • Gyro - InvenSense Inc.
     
  • Accelerometer - Anologue Devices Inc.
     
  • Auto-level & Acrobatics mode capable
     
  • Max input signals: 5

 
  
  
APM Flight Controller Specifications

  • Arduino compatible!
     
  • 3 axis Gyroscope
     
  • 3 axis Accelerometer
     
  • 3 axis Magnetometer (compass) powered by Honeywell HMC5883L-TR chip
     
  • 4MB Flash memory
  • MediaTek MT3329 GPS module
     
  • High resolution Barometric pressure sensor (altitude sensor)
     
  • Atmel's ATMEGA2560 & ATMEGA32U-2 processing chips
     
  • Auto-level, Acrobatic, 3D position hold (Ioiter), Return-to-Launch, Altitude hold, Programmable missions and more!
     
  • Max input signals: 8
     
  • Many additional hardware and software options available including: ground sensing sonar, live flight telemetry, telemetry outputs for FPV systems and many more!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We have experience and trust with our local vendors, and we have backups for them in unlikely event of a problem. As of now, only primary vendors are established for some of the off-the-shelf parts. Plans are in process to find backup vendors while simultaneously strengthening ties with the current vendors. However, as it looks today, the greatest risk is lead time issues with our off-the-shelf vendors.

Engineers love to solve puzzles, and this potential vendor risk is just another puzzle that will be solved like many that have come before it.

There are plans, backup plans and in many cases backup plans for the backup plans in place now for as many contingencies as could be imagined to date.

FAQ

  • All the SwitchBlade components will be available on the website very shortly after the rewards have shipped.

    The website in the near future will also offer SwitchBlade specific accessories like payload decks designed to carry brushless gimbals, robust custom transport cases and additional batteries just to name a few!

    Last updated:
  • The SwitchBlade is substantially easier to fly than current RC helicopter of similar size. However, controlling a craft with six degrees of freedom does require piloting skill. I suggest you don't underestimate this need or rely too heavily on software features like 3D position hold or preprogrammed missions. To operate the craft safely one should always be comfortable taking manual control at any time. Like any skill worth having this requires some patience and practice. Work is underway now on training videos that will be published on the YouTube channel before the SwitchBlades are shipped to help with this learning curve.

    The time required to learn how to fly is well spent. Not only will you end up with a unique skill, you'll also get to watch that skill grow with every flight.

    Last updated:
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    In addition to being listed as a backer you will receive a high quality Vision Aerial vinyl window sticker.

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    In addition to being listed as a backer you will receive a custom Vision Aerial T-shirt and Window sticker. (Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL)

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    In addition to being listed as a backer you will receive a high quality flex fit custom embroidered Vision Aerial ball cap and window sticker. (Sizes: S/M 6.75in–7.25in or L/XL 7.13in–7.63in)

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    Vision Aerial Apparel Kit. In addition to being listed as a backer you will receive a hoodie, hat, T-shirt and window sticker.

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    SwitchBlade Chassis. Fully assembled chassis with yaw servo installed. Simply add your own electronics and drive system. Great for those Do-It-Yourselfers looking for a professional grade chassis. White and Blue color scheme. (Retail price $499)

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    SwitchBlade Plug-and-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the KK2.0 flight controller. It’s ready for you to plug in your receiver, transmitter and battery. White and Blue color scheme. (Retail price $899, camera not included)

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    *EARLY-BIRD Special* SwitchBlade Ready-to-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the KK2.0 flight controller. Comes ready-to-fly with 6 channel receiver, 6 channel spread spectrum 2.4GHz transmitter, battery and charger! Offered in Kickstarter only Green, White and Blue color scheme. (Retail value $1149, camera not included)

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    SwitchBlade Ready-to-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the KK2.0 flight controller. Comes ready-to-fly with 6 channel receiver, 6 channel spread spectrum 2.4GHz transmitter, battery and charger! White and Blue color scheme. (Retail price $1149, camera not included)

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    SwitchBlade Pro Plug-and-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the advanced ArduPilotMega APM flight controller, featuring fully autonomous programmable missions (PC required), return to launch and three dimension position holding just to name a few! It’s ready for you to plug in your receiver, transmitter and battery. Black and Blue color scheme. (Retail price $1499, camera not included)

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    *EARLY-BIRD Special* SwitchBlade Pro Ready-to-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the advanced ArduPilotMega APM flight controller, featuring fully autonomous programmable missions (PC required), return to launch and three dimension position holding just to name a few! Comes ready-to-fly with 8 channel receiver, 9 channel spread spectrum 2.4GHz programmable transmitter, battery and charger! Offered in Kickstarter only Green, Black and Blue color scheme. (Retail value $1799, camera not included)

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    SwitchBlade Pro Ready-to-Fly. Fully assembled and powered by the advanced ArduPilotMega APM flight controller, featuring fully autonomous programmable missions (PC required), return to launch and three dimension position holding just to name a few! Comes ready-to-fly with 8 channel receiver, 9 channel spread spectrum 2.4GHz programmable transmitter, battery and charger! Offered in Kickstarter only Green, Black and Blue color scheme. (Retail price $1799, camera not included)

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    STYLE. For those out there looking not only for an advanced and capable aerial platform but also a flare for style. Comes with everything in the SwitchBlade Pro READY-TO-FLY reward, in addition: It’s offered in a Kickstarter only Red, White and Blue color scheme. Comes with full night lighting; great to help with visibility on those sunset flights, and custom engraving on the top of the payload deck, (up to 140 characters) so you can add that personal touch. (camera not included)

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Funding period

- (30 days)