Instructables
Picture of 2 meter flying RC starship Enterprise
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To boldly go where no airship has gone before... an indoor flying sculpture of the starship Enterprise.

It's not a representation of a particular version of the Enterprise, but an "artist's impression" of the yet unappeared Enterprise Z (Z from Zeppelin) .

Check out the video to see how it moves around:


I made it for the occasion of the BVC participation at the 20th F.A.C.T.S. convention in Ghent, October 23-24, 2010. The BVC or Belgian Voyage Club is the Belgian Star Trek fan club (www.bvc.be). And it's flying again at the 21st F.A.C.T.S. convention in Ghent, October 22-23, 2011.

In this Ible I explain how I made the construction. I also explain the main principles of the build of a vectored thrust propulsion (propellers moving in the direction you want thrust) and tail motor steering. The exact solution is however depending on what RC-components you have available.

Thanks for the votes in the Autodesk Kinetic Sculpture Design Contest!
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

It is quite possible to make blimp envelopes yourself, but I never reached the helium tightness of industrially made balloons. Also the “valve” used by commercial balloons is hard to match in ease of use and tightness. Therefore I based my project on ready made balloons:

Two Zeppelin NT foil balloons, available at the webshop from the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei.

A 52” blimp envelope, as common for toy RC Blimps. I actually used a 52” x 37” version with extra load bearing capacity. This allowed to add more trimming weight and removing it to compensate for helium loss over time.

A 36 or 38” round foil balloon (as sold for toy RC “flying saucer” blimps or large decorative balloons).

About 2 to 3 m2 of balloon foil (I used a type with one side in white, matching the main hull, but a silver coloured Enterprise Z would look great too).

The last to items could be replaced by an "Amazing Indoor Anti-Gravity Flying Disc", if you can find one.
Similar flying discs are available, but these are smaller and come in colourfull prints not suited for this project.

99%+ pure helium for maximum buoyancy. For small quantities I find it cheapest and easiest to have my balloons filled at the local balloon shop. Balloon Surprise in Drongen gives excellent service.

Construction material:

Some extruded polystyrene sheet (mostly known under the brand name “Depron”, about 0.5 m2 of 5-6 mm thickness and 0.5 m2 of 3 mm thickness.

about 3.5 m of 2 mm diameter glassfiber composite rod (as available from kite shops) or, even probably better probably about 1.5mm carbon composite rod.

Polystyrene contact glue. The clear type is preferred, but as I didn't have that available some camouflaging was done at the end with white acrylic paint.

Some superglue

Clear cellotape, wide and standard

Thin double sided tape (the carpet fixing type).

A printer and paper (as light as your printer accepts is best, but I used ordinary office paper)

About 50g of plasticine as trimming weight (no play dough, as this tends to dry out and lose weight)

Propulsion and control:

The propulsion and RC components should be under 40g. I used an 8g parkflyer receiver, three 6g micro servos, an extra motor from such a servo, a 10g LiPo battery and three 6.5 diameter indoor airplane propellers. To that I added , two small gears with a 1 to 3 ratio (4 is even better), some 2mm diameter carbon rod (a piece of 20 cm and one of 40 cm), an a extra small micro switc and about 2.5 m of the thinnest isolated electric wire I could find.

cool
rcsuperhero3 years ago
Neat! I like unique flying projects! I wish the disk part was more to scale (larger)
also check out my flying man rcsuperhero see him on youtube

Im a big star track fan!
*trek*
masynmachien (author)  rcsuperhero3 years ago
Thanks.

And actually, as it happens, the Enterprise Z has a smaller saucer section than the other Enterprises as it was designed for fluidic space ;-)

And your rcsuperhero is great!
player27563 years ago
Cool, but i was really expecting jet motors...
Or warp drive, Hehe
masynmachien (author)  roland9853 years ago
Warp speed was not allowed at F.A.C.T.S. ;-)
Then how about Trans-Warp?
Just Impulse then?
masynmachien (author)  roland9853 years ago
Yep, about 0,0000000000001 impuls
still very awesome
babylon53 years ago
That was cool video. I am into RC flying so that RC Starship enterprise rocks!
Great! Loving that old school style. Listening to that video sure did bring back some memories :)
frikkie3 years ago
Freaken Awesome! Man i love this one!
That was awesome, you got my vote :]
drslump3 years ago
you have a vote from me
x73198083 years ago
Sub-Light is a little more accurate.
Pretty clever. Isn't there some way to heat seal mylar?
masynmachien (author)  PaulMakesThings3 years ago
Thanks,

Actually, real mylar (polyester foil) can not be heat sealed. Although foil balloons are often referred to as "mylar", they are actually made of a nylon foil. This nylon foil can indeed be heat sealed. I have made blimp envelopes by heat sealing nylon foils. But where the helium loss with good industrially made balloons is in the order of magnitude of 10% a week, with the envelopes I heat sealed myself it's rather 10% a day. If you have a bottle of helium at hand, it is feasable to fly with such envelopes.
Were you able to tell why the DIY balloons had a higher loss rate? Was it the seal or the material?
No, just the odd hull breach...
masynmachien (author)  mnpazan3 years ago
It was the seal/seam. I had the same loss problems when extensively modifying commercial balloons. Small changes (e.g. removing a fin by sealing a 1cm opening) were a better success.

Another suspect is the valve, but even when I kept the original valve, large homemade seams did increase the loss.

However, self made balloons are still good to fly. You just need some more trimming. About each hour or so. As you need to change or charge batteries, you need a "pit stop" anyway. And you will need a small refill about each day to keep the shape or if you run out of trimming weight to remove. Other blimps I designed with a about 40% of buoyancy to spare. Adding air to keep the shape and having trimming weight to spare, I could fly the self made balloon up to a week.

And there are probably people around are better in heat sealing.
so many materials that you need in one 2 meter flying RC starship
masynmachien (author)  Waren-Neutron3 years ago
wel compared to a real starship...
bertjes3 years ago
great stuff, I have seen it in Gent
and it flys verry high (beware for the hights)
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masynmachien (author)  bertjes3 years ago
Yeah, the turbulence from the powerful air inlets and the roof construction brought me in trouble there. Trouble seems to happen quite a lot with any starship Enterprise, doesn't it? Luckily, the next morning some huge aliens brought a mobile recovery unit (2 latex balloons with a foam beam in between and strings) to pull it down.
Simply... awesome.
9ale73 years ago
i love the slow movements ,
looks like the real thing :)
Mr.NHRA3 years ago
Very Nice!
Neat-o :D
rimar20003 years ago
Beautiful! Congratulations.
kelseymh3 years ago
Now that is a transporter full of WIN. Thank you for posting all of the details!