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LED Floaties: That float away!

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Picture of LED Floaties: That float away!
My friend from blastwave labs gave me a call a couple days ago and he told me grand plans for the LEDs and batteries I had stagnating in my closet. His female counterpart was leaving her job at party city, so it was the perfect time to obtain a bunch of balloons (not steal) and rent a tank of helium.

There's another related instructable: LED Floaties by tetranitrate. The floaties didn't get to float up up and away, but made a cool temporary art installation at a park!

Video of the construction and launch:

 
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Step 1: LED Throwie minus magnet

Follow the instructable for LED Throwies, but just leave the magnet out of the equation. We also decided to make an internet guestbook, print out the URL and tape that to the LED units that were going inside the balloons.

There is also some maths you can do to make sure your balloons are going to fly:

The volume of a sphere:
V = 4/3(pi)r3

And we used 12" latex balloons, so r = 6 inches, which gives ~904 cubic inches or ~15 liters of helium per balloon.

You can approximate for every liter of helium used, you can get about 1 gram of lift, the battery and LED were about 4 grams, the balloon itself was around 3 grams and we can give another gram for the tape and URL paper. The payload for the helium was a total of ~8 grams, which is a ready for launch Houston!

Step 2: Stuff your balloons

Now that you have the LEDs and batteries taped together and ready to rock, stuff them in a balloon.

The video in the intro has a good demonstration on how to do this, but basically just have someone stretch the neck of the balloon like it was a sock about to be put on and have another person insert the LED unit. Simple!
robert0joe3 years ago
If some short-circuit happens, you know the LED's pins stick and cause a spark/arc would that ignite the helium on the balloon?
you're probably thinking of hydrogen, helium is not flammable
nak (author)  robert0joe3 years ago
"Helium is the least reactive noble gas after neon and thus the second least reactive of all elements" Someone needs to learn for themselves! Have you ever tried to ignite helium?
ryoka6 years ago
i made 800 of these and let them loose in my house. NO CEILING SPACE LEFT BARE!!!
 liar liar pants on fire.
How'd you afford all the batteries?
diN0bot ryoka6 years ago
awesome! how dim/bright was that? how long did it take to make?
xguy5 years ago
why not use those cheap solar led sets then you'd want to keep them.
Great Instructable, I don't know why I didn't think of this when all these LED shenanigans started. I think it would be entertaining to tether the balloons to the ground in a pattern to form some sort of figure, maybe even a 3-dimensional object like a tilted cube or something (use the ground as your xy plane, the string length as your z). A fair amount of calculations would be in order, to be sure, but it would be worth it. And afterwards, you can retrieve the whole works, keeping your wallet and the hippies happy :)
nak (author)  Jonny Katana6 years ago
Yeah, I like this idea, I've just been thinking about it, and the calculations shouldn't be too difficult. The string used to tether the balloons/LEDs down would have to be factored into the weight to make sure they will still float! And just some graph paper to determine the length of the strings. But wind could also be a problem, a slight breeze could take your beautiful art and tangle it up into some unrecognizable mess!
Froggy1294 nak5 years ago
use a very long length of wire, not string, to hold the balloons still could it work?
nak (author)  Froggy12945 years ago
Use your imagination! Here's what my imagination says, nope!
I live in Arizona, so I think there will be a few days soon where wind is not too much of factor. Still, I agree it is vulnerable to any substantial wind, so maybe some sort of rigging should be used between the balloons as well. Now to go find massive amounts of button cell batteries on the cheap...
Also, I think "LED Loonies" would be a good alternate name.
comodore6 years ago
IT'S A BIRD! NO! IT'S A PLANE! NO! IT'S AN LED FLOATIE!!! LOL!!! :D
Derin comodore5 years ago
*a led floatie
comodore Derin5 years ago
right (know-it-all) :)
Tie fishing line on these and tie them to random things. Maybe vary the sizes of the line so u got stationary UFO's floating everywhere. I tie them to stuff at parks, stopsigns, and ..... SCHOOLS!!!! Oh the schools! So funny. I gotta try this!
RidoKilos6 years ago
How do you ensure that the floatie comes down when it's still dark out??? Is there some sort of 'bloon airtime calculator somewhere??
One word: Shotgun
geeklord5 years ago
Did the one have 4 LED's on it??
Logan Airport + Boston paranoia about LEDs + LED Floaties = MUCH Hijinx Ensuing.

Followed by automatic weapons fire.

Hmmmmm....

Super Ultra Bright LEDs, + Optical fiber + sufficient lift = a swarm of Ignignokts shooting the bird to Boston from on high.

(I live in Boston and this is giving me many evil ideas. THNAK YOU!)
0825356 years ago
release them in New Mexico then people will think that they are UFOs. cool Instructable tho
hi - would this work with 9 balloons with the weight of the led and battery?

thanks!
warren
nak (author)  warrenmiller6 years ago
Step 1 tells you how to figure that out:
9 inch balloon has about a 4.5 inch diameter. Volume = ~382 cubic inches = ~6.26 liters of helium

1 liter of helium = about 1 gram of lift, the payload weight is about 8 grams, but that is still about 2 grams too heavy to be lifted by a 9 inch balloon.

But hey, give it a shot, science is experiment.
casey321b6 years ago
what happens when they pop in mid atmosphere. falling baterys and LEDs ow...
jeffgwapo6 years ago
hehe the pilot said look its u.f.o. then got crashed they tought it was a u.f.o. hehe just joking
HazardRush6 years ago
great project, but just one thing. I may just be making an ass of myself, because i dont know for sure, but isnt helium combustible? if so, a spark from a loose connection could set it off. amirite?
No. Helium is inert. Hydrogen is combustible. They're on opposite sides of, our good friend, the periodic table.
that not my frend=p
They both lift though.
...because they're both less dense than air ;-)
rancidbry6 years ago
this is awesome!! but why did you do it?
Bravo man, brav - frikin - O
marc926 years ago
Have you heard anything good listening to your radio scanner after releasing a bunch of floaties? I can imagine airline pilots getting angry with this idea and I'm pretty sure that is a federal offense... ...If you live near an airport, or under a commonly used flight path, do be careful with this idea.
nak (author)  marc926 years ago
I didn't have my scanner on me (mistake) so I turned it on about an hour+ after the release, there was no noise (aircraft/police)... I was hoping to get some comical recordings, oh well!
ll.136 years ago
didn't Tetranitrate do this? :-/
nak (author)  ll.136 years ago
Sorta, I linked to his instructable (intro step). The only difference is these float away. :-\
nickjohnson6 years ago
It looks really cool, but... Wow! it's like littering a balloon, AND littering a battery in a single act. I'm not trying to be a prick, but, you know how bad batteries are for the environment?
Most of those batteries go rot in a dump.
It's true, it's a shame. Non-rechargeable batteries always, ultimately, end up as waste. Non-rechargeable batteries cannot be recycled (though rechargeables CAN!) Ideally, gadgets which need batteries will move towards rechargeable. This has already happened with cars, phones, ipods, pdas, laptops, etc. Coincidentally, the only place I ever see non-rechargeable batteries is with cheap products that are intended to be thrown away, especially stupid toys. Still, a dump is slightly different than littering. Dumps (more appropriately, landfills) are designed to minimize runoff. Yeah, it's still pollution, but it is contained pollution, and efforts are made to prevent it from, say, mixing with our water supplies. So, again I say: there is no excuse to litter a battery.
or we could throw all the garbage we have into the nearest black hole...
Well, save yourself the trouble and aim for the sun. It's a lot closer. Even then you have to consider the amount of energy needed to get that waste to escape earth's gravity and go on course towards the sun. You might be able to cut corners, and send it towards the sun's gravity well, hoping the sun will take it the rest of the way. By my estimates, you still need an absurd about of energy to get it there, and that energy will (in this day and age, most likely) come from fossil fuels.
agreed.
BeanBot6 years ago
this is awesome, but not to be a "party pooper" but yeah this is pretty bad for the environment, we need something greener... but i sooo want to do this!!
could you imagine chilling outside and have one of these come back down after the helium has escaped. I PREDICT A SUDDEN INCREASE IN UFO SIGHTINGS AAAhAHAHAHAHA!
yeah lol
you live in dallas TX? ;)
I agree about the whole "not releasing them into the air" thing, but this is definitely a cool idea to have for a part, just floating up on the ceiling.
so people can take them... xD
freakin awesome. and the song just makes it that much better. you should release a bunch of them at the airport at night, lol. well, that wouldn't be safe -if even legal... so maybe a super tall office building at night? it'd be awesome to release hundreds at the seatle space needle's base
Phoghat6 years ago
This is one of the coolest instructable I've seen in a long time. Chinese festival where they send up a hot air balloon powered by candle, isn't that at New Year? Coming soon, would like to try this then. A lot better than flying fire bombs in an urban setting.
madhops06206 years ago
It would be awesome if they launched a ton of these on new years eve at times square or something like that
darkmuskrat6 years ago
Lol, so thats what the people over texas saw :P AWSOME +1
only after drinking LoneStar Beer!
Naturaly :D
lol
Jake Turner6 years ago
Wow. This would be the perfect way to set off the local rednecks! I'll let you know how that turns out, if it happens. :D
I should try this, living in rural Iowa I wonder how many 30-30s will be fired! LOL!
Knexman20206 years ago
what a waste of LED's lol nice though! _
Well...not too much of a waste if, the balloons are tethered via string and the LEDs can be recovered and reused in other projects...
looks like that scale has been used to measure the weight of some other things also...
I am very surprised that the leds, and batteries didnt act as sinkers.
Brilliant! It would also be cool if you put all of them on REALLY long strings so that the wouldn't go too high. That would also make the environmentally worried people happy too. :-)

+1 and favorited!
egreen7676 years ago
awesome instructable! These should be called flighties or something. lol
Mr. Bean1176 years ago
The original german version of the song is way better in my opinion, check it out on youtube or something (99 luft balons). nice instructable
zcaper6 years ago
Balloon releases are illegal in many places, since it constitutes littering. I would think releasing a balloon with a light inside could be especially dangerous to nearby aircraft. It's also pieces of plastic like popped balloons that choke birds foraging for a tasty "worm." These would be fun for a party, but be a responsible citizen and don't release them!
Kiteman6 years ago
You could inflate a bunch of balloons without throwies in them as well, then tape them together into large floating pictures - space invaders, smilies, whatever).

To make the float horizontally, and be as visible as possible from the ground, tie a length of thread to each corner and attach them to a small weight, such as a few nuts and bolts.

Choose your image and colours carefully, and you start a UFO scare for real, especially if you use flashing LEDs in the corners.

Heck, just use FLEDs anyway - the battery will last longer (I think).
triiodide6 years ago
?
chadgill736 years ago
LED floaties, seen this instructable several times. My son said "what's that?". So, we looked at video 1st time. Way cool. I love the music too. Who would of thought?
whaaa6 years ago
Now we know where the UFO sightings are coming from
PS1186 years ago
I guess it was the inevitable next stage in throwies, but well done and well written! (100 bonus points for the hilarious "mother earth" thing) Next step, somebody needs to figure out a what zero buoyancy for these things is and devise some kind of ballast. That way they hang around longer for max enjoyment. P.S. Why do we fill them with the lights off? Cuz it looks cool! :D
very good point! then they could be more floatish? these would be cool for a b,day party at night, outdoors! great instructable!!!
Gene Hacker6 years ago
This might explain recent UFO sightings in Texas. Now you just need to tie them together to spell things like: ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US, 42, or RON PAUL 4 PREZ. So can you still see them after they ascend? If I could just obtain some helium, I'll show you my own version of the LED floatie I made a while back.
Use blinking LEDs, and spell out "EAT AT JOE'S". Looney Toons fans in your city may elect you mayor!
Sbchristo6 years ago
Wow, Snazzy.... This would be great for kids' birthday parties, rave parties, or just when bored in my living room... I would love to sit and hear the cop calls come in about strange lights in the sky.

Kuddos and props!!

*** Note: Every time someone whines about the environment, God kills a kitten... oh hell now I've upset all the non-Christians too :)
Visitor6 years ago
1. Get an idea. 2. Ignore responsibilities. 3. Ignore common sense. 4. ? 5. That's how we changed the planet into what it is today. Making and inventing things is all cool, but there needs to be some responsibility and common sense involved too. Now, get on your feet and go pick up those batteries you threw into our habitat.
Criticizing is all cool when it's constructive and offering compromises and solutions, but when it's just plain dismissive, it doesn't really help a site like this that's built on collaboration. Either way, people shouldn't be writing off the idea just because the littering issue (and of course, ignoring the transmitter comments). No one said they are only made to be released into the wild. They can be tied up in bunches and tied down and used for party lights, or used singularly in bedrooms or with gifts just as regular helium balloons have been used to years. Hell, I could even see companies like 1800-flowers using something like that with a gift package; Instead of a teddy bear and a heart balloon, you'd have a floatie and a little stuffed alien or something. I myself would go with the party lights, or fake UFO shannanigans. You could probably release them on kite string and reel them back in. @ nak: is there a problem with the LEDs over heating and bursting the balloons after being on for awhile? if so, how long do they last? Hopefully they outlast the helium's lift.
There are no issues with the LED's we used overheating, depending on the led/ battery you use that might change. if it were a problem you could probably add a resistor to diminish the heat problem.
Well, there are some ideas that really can't be improved. Uncontrollably thrown away hazardous waste would be one of them.
dummy19776 years ago
for the people worried about the littering... you could add a GPS bekon along with them, upping the cost, and make a nice little game of geo-caching for the environment. Chances are, landowners would run you off of their property before you could explain how you're saving their land, though. ;)
Oh, so there actually are people here that are not worried about littering? All this time I've been putting my trash into the trash can. If only I had known this I could have saved me a lot of time.
nak (author)  dummy19776 years ago
You read our minds (sorta) There are small transmitters that can be purchased that work on ham radio bands, in combination with a directional antenna it wouldn't be impossible to track down the balloon flock, especially if multiple people were listening for the beacon.
ry259206 years ago
You know, this could be used at a comunity cookout as a fundraiser. People buy a ballon and release it. Money could go to charity or something. Any thoughts?
bartax ry259206 years ago
the thought of all that garbage and batteries littering your community makes me cringe.
ahaha isn't it illegal to release balloons anyway? ahah
esmajor726 years ago
I wonder if those lil mono glowsticks would be just as neat to use.....
Mini.... sorry my typing sucks
AWESOME idea nak! :-) Nice job, this is awesome! +1 rating. (added to favorites)
awoodcarver6 years ago
Nice!love the song ...any reports of UFO's called into 911 that night?
nak (author)  awoodcarver6 years ago
I called a local news station and asked if they had already got calls about weird lights in the sky, the hot-line operator said "Yeah", I wasn't sure if he really did, or calls about UFOs are just too common here and he was getting me off his back.
Cool! Looks great! Nice video! Nice choice for the music.
ac1D6 years ago
its more like.. flyies.. they dont float, they fly! nice isntructa ble and good idea!
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