LED Floaties: That float away!

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!
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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
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.


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?

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.
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