This details the construction of the remote-controlled blimp I built. Here's a short video of it flying:
The blimp is controlled by a transmitter on the ground, operated by a human. There are three control levers-- one for each motor, and one for the servo that rotates the axis they're attached to. You push / pull to make the motors speed up or slow down; they're controlled individually, it's like driving a tank. You need two Arduinos - one for the transmitter and one on the blimp itself.
I generate the hydrogen through the reaction that occurs when aluminum, water, and lye (NaOH) are mixed.
I'll go through the steps of building the transmitter first, then the blimp, and finally filling it up with gas.
If you persist, you too can rule the skies of your living room.
- 1 Arduino Duemilanove
but really any of them would work
-Ramsey TX433 Transmitter Module
see next slide for details / alternatives
- 3 100k Ohm potentionmeters
make sure they're the kind that rotate, you'll need to mount levers on them
- Assorted wires
- ~10 0.1" pin headers
-- the standard kind that plug into Arduino sockets
- Elastic material (?)
optional-- I used strips of elastic that they put in pant waistbands to make them stretch
It comes from trees
I'm not sure if that's the right name--they're the metal angles that let you screw together two pieces of wood at right angles
-9v battery clip
-project board( a small one)
-SPST switch for power
i got mine from an ikea lamp
- 1 Arduino Nano
-Ramsey RX433 Receiver Module
see next slide for details / alternatives
- Blimp envelope
i used this
one from Plantraco-- the same one the Blimpduino guys
get it at Ace Hardware--I used a large flat piece plus assorted beams
-4 cotton balls
for soft landings!
-1 7.4V 2 cell LiPo battery
I got it here
-- you could absolutely use a smaller one
- 2 brushed motors w/ propellers
I used these
and their corresponding propellers
( stolen from the incredible Hummingblimp
- 1 small servo
I used a really tiny 2g digital servo, also from Hobbyking. I can't find it on their website, but you could use anything with a similar low weight
you'll need three small pieces, each around an inch to 2 inches to a side
-4 3906 PNP transistors
-10 3904 NPN transistors
-1 7805 voltage regulator
-1 100 uF capacitor
-4x 100K ohm resistor
-2x 0.5 uF capacitor
-2 pin headers
12 of the wires will need 0.1" socket endings to fit the Arduino's pins; my Nano came with them. you may not be so lucky. Another note on wiring: it adds a lot of weight to the blimp and adds up quickly, so make it as short and light as possible. Wherever possible I used those really thin grey wires that run through data bus connectors inside computers.
-1 drinking straw , coffee straw
-4 pairs of velcro pads
they're about 1 sq. in, with adhesive on the back. I think they sell them at places like Staples
-1 flask with a spout
mine had a spout near that top that 1/4" tubing fit over nicely
If you're not using some sort of buffer container, you'll probably want at least three feet
I get mine in 500g containers at Ace. For exact amounts see H2 production step
Soda cans, heating ducts--use your imagination. You'll need at least 120 grams for one fill
Lots and lots of ice
- Good gloves
Lye can and will burn you, especially if you're dumb like me. Use gloves that are intended for labs where dangerous chemicals are used.
-A rubber stopper
or other means of completely sealing your flask
- A sealed catheter bag (optional)
handy as a buffer and for controlling the flow of gas
-Soldering iron / solder
Make sure it has a fine tip; grind it down if necessary.
-Drill press / hand drill
for making the control levers
- A saw
- x-acto hobby knife
for cutting balsa
It mainly needs to join balsa to balsa; any wood glue you have will probably be fine.
- A good scale
for measuring lye and aluminum--as well as your blimp.
optional but really really useful
Below I included a zip file which contains the schematics for the transmitter and receiver, as well as the Arduino sketches for each of them -- those are the .ino's. Please note that the schematics are, well, schematic, but they won't actually map to the right parts if you try to create PCB's from them. The eagle .lbr parts are not exact, they're just diagrams that I used to help with the wiring, which I did by hand.