Let's Make Robots!

Robotic Airship, some ideas :)

So i was looking at some flying robot designs, just out of curiosity. I ruled out helicopters and planes: they require too much precision in crafting and are too complex.. But alternatively an airship could probably be built :)

I've read on wikipedia that a square meter of helium can lift about 1 kg. A square meter means a big balloon, but a Kg is plenty of weight for electonics!

If you use light components, you can probably stay under 0,5 Kg or even less.

For example, some very light battery like this one at 1.1 Ah (only 22 grams!!) or this one at 2Ah, 36 grams.

The airship would probably be too light to effectively fly outdoor, but otherwise it would be nice to have a GPS module and a long-range radio link (this rates at 1,5 Km, not bad), and let it fly :P

There are micro servo that weights 8 grams, the GM10 motors wheight 5 grams.

For the balloon, one of the cheapest way would be to use a condom :P They're strong and light and cheap, the can be inflated to a cilinder that, with some inprecise calculation i did, could host about 0,1 square meter of gas. One could use two or three and have planty of lifting power :)

So the question is: am i completely crazy ?:P

No really, do you think this design could ever work? Of course the best would be to have something that can be controller outdoor, but i think it would be too much..

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There are several radio controlled helium ballon ships on the market already, so your plan is definitly doable. Here's an example.

What du you plan to use the servo for? 

 / vzz-clck-"Maneuver"

they would be used to rotate the main motors to steer the airship when changing directions.. i don't know if this is the correct way of doing it, i don't have investigated this deep :)

i looked around that site.. cool, they have nice stuff :)

The only thing: i could find a "blimp" for outdoor use.. they're all for indoor.. Maybe that size is not enought to substain open wind ? Should it be made bigger ?

Due to the shape, they are highly susceptable to light winds. Bigger , heavier and stronger motors would help, but then it gets to be an issue with where to fly it since the altitude is not something that can be easily controlled with these airships outside. I would find this a fairly difficult project, but doable as well....

I think this would be a really good idea,

and if you did it, i would like to see. It probably would work,

if you try really hard. I hope you can do it!

you could also use a solenoid valve to control the amount of helium that gets in/out the baloon, but i've only seen heavy ones so far.

A cubic meter is 35.3 cubic feet. I found a party supply site here that sells helium in a small 14.9 cubic foot tank, for $40, so you might need more than 2 if shooting for 1 kg lift capacity. I read that a welding supply would be cheaper (and better quality) to get the helium, but you have the start-up cost of buying a $50-$75 regulator valve.

I've thought about the idea too, and considered dangerous (Hydrogen, 4 times the lifting power!) and hot air (huge envelope needed, plus some danger generating the flame).

i have a tank of helium in my workshop. Empty at the moment, but I can recommend this for anyone, it is worth every penny! Making stuff fly & hover in mid air is awesome! I have only made remote controlled blimps though, but that is very very much fun too! (Use inside only, little wind, puff..)

I think I will have to refill soon :) I hope you make the project Nicola, would be ace to see!

Be aware that ordinary balloons loose the gas very fast (nothing worth the next day-fast) - it seams to just vanish through the material somehow. The sort of blank foil-inside-kind of plastic that you get typical helium balloons in makes it stay much longer, but you will still need refill.

Also, when planing; You should know that these things do not stay in mid air. They follow the air around, even in the most still of rooms, they move around, so you will have to adjust in 6 directions constantly! ..hmm .. it may actually be quite hard.. because you will not know if you are traveling fast, up, down, or still etc. Hmm.. 6 SRF05's or 2 with some serious tilt & pan will be needed!


i'm not too sure about the horizontal movement detection, maybe some sort of accelerometer, but i was thinking about this idea a little while ago, and found these for altitude sensing perhaps...

I think a simple 3-axis accelerometer would actually be perfect for this task. I don't yet fully understand when you need to supplement accelerometers with gyros -- maybe you'd need a combination of a 3-axis accelerometer and 3 gyros? Either way, it'd still probably be cheaper than 6 SRF05's :) This actually sounds like an interesting project -- building a blimp that can keep itself locked in one point in space even when wind blows, using fans pointed in all directions. What for? I don't know. Surveillance maybe -- I just like the challenge itself. I'll come up with an excuse for building it once it works :)