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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From my experience, the Gyros are very accurate but desperately slow to react. The Accelerometers show change much more quickly, but when you integrate acceleration to get speed, there's a notable drift. Someone might have a better technical explaination, but I used them in my balancing robot to calibrate each other.

Surely the SRF05s have a very limited range for this type of thing?

  • A gyro "remembers" where it is tilted to now.
  • An accel(that thing) "notes" when it is being "moved"

Gyros also drift etc - but this comment is is only about when to use what. If you want to see that "you are being moved", use the accel-thing. If you want to see "where you are", use the gyro.

Example: Make a self-balancing plane. If you use accel-thingeys, when the plane starts it thinks it is pointing downwards due to the acceleration. So use a Gyro for that.

Example: Make a robot that jumps and unfolds itself once it is at the peak of the free air-time. If you use a gyro you can only detect tilt, so use a accellerator.. acceler.. erh-thingey for that.


just to precise, the gyro are almost always rate gyro, so they don't tell you which way are you ponting, but just how fast you are turning. For examle they can say "you're not turning" or "you are turning 5° per second", but they don't tell you "you're pointing 45°"
Oh yes.. erh.. well. some have a "memory" that you use to get the angle out. But you are of course right, the very gyro itself (if one of the new fancy ones with pulsing and stuff, and not the old fashioned kind with a motor spinning a disc) - the very gyro does not remember where it is tilted to. Something else must overlook the gyro and keep track if your current angle is what you are interested in.

Well, with the correct mechnical arrangement, rate gyros and acelerometers can give complimentary information. I thought TCG was asking why one would use both together (eg in applications such as a co-axial wheeled robot)...

Uhm it's going to grow less and less cheap each line i read :)

Yes, the helium escape becouse its atoms are very small and can pass between the plastic fabric.. I've read it on wikipedia :) I don't know how condoms rate at this.. but if i have to guess, given what they're for, i'd say good :)

Stabilizing would be a problem.. You need extra motors, and with extra motors come extra weight, so bigger balloon etc etc. And IMU sensors are expensive as hell. So i don't think i'll be building it anytime soon..

It's a pity.. I was already imagining to fly it to my friends houses via GPS and have live video of them being scared as hell, and then shooting them with the powerful onboard lasers.. Well, something like that :)

PS That pressure sensor looks interesting, it would be a must have for a serious blimp

CONDOMS?!?!?... CONDOMS?!?!?!?

I support abstinence-only robot education!   

I dunno if condoms would work. Helium atoms are very small. Do you have custom condoms for very small things? Ballon material is actually full of holes about the size of helium atoms. Dunno wha the deal is with the metallic stuff. I guess it has fewer or smaller holes or something.


Three or four separate motors pointing in different directionswith propellers on them would weight the same and be much more versatile than one motor with a servo.

 I didn't really check the site I linked to, I just googled it. But there are several indoor helium blimps available online, I'm sure.

/ vzz-clck-"Maneuver"

I would go for a combo. A helium ballon to take most of the weight and three upward facing motors on servos. Twisting the motors would allow somplete freedom in 3D. Maneuverability, speed AND a smaller balloon. All good.

Incidentally, there's no way a metre squared of any gas lifts anything. That would be a metre cubed...