What do you get crossing a Zeppelin NT balloon with a Hyperblimp in a classroom? A Hummingblimp!

Check it out in this video:

As most of my projects involve something that moves I just had to partipate in the Make It Move Challenge". Lately I have been experimenting with building RC-blimps based on the balloons sold by Deutschen Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH. These balloons are about 120 cm long and 25 cm in diameter. Filled with helium these balloons lift a mere 20g. But modern micro RC-gear brings this within reach of anyone with some basic experience in building remote controlled models.

A classic gondola setup resulted in a blimp that is quite quick for its size and very agile. But at high power a lot of roll back and forth occurs. Positioning the main thrusters higher, closer to the centre of mass should remedy that. But instead of putting the thrusters on the sides (as in Zeppelin airships rather than blimps), I tried a single propeller at the stern, inspired by Daniel Geerys awesome Hyperblimp. As the complete controls and propulsion are at the stern, an even stricter weight limit is set for these parts (under half of the lift capacity, i.e. 10 g).  For this I came up with a setup around the Spektrum AR6400L Ultra Micro Receiver with integrated servo's. The battery goes on the bow.

The result is a lively indoor blimp suitable for spaces the size of a class room or larger. Controlling it in a smaller class room takes some practice (Im still on it). But it doesnt matter if you hit anything, you can just keep flying. Obviously you should avoid all hot, sharp or fragile objects in the room.

You do not need any flying skills, but this project does require a willingness to work with tiny, flimsy components. Some minor soldering is needed to extend the battery leads. 

Many thanks for all of your votes in the Make It Move Challenge.
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masynmachien (author) 18 days ago

Sorry, I wish I could fix it, the balloon is no longer available. I will however adjust the text.

hwd200229 days ago

The link to get the baloon Doesn't work. Can you Fix that please?


powerdruy10 months ago
heavyfire883 years ago
I think a brushless would be muuuch much better. And I think you should put the motor in the front, since it is a slow flyer, pulling principles would apply better
masynmachien (author)  heavyfire883 years ago
The main factor at this time is the weight distribution. But as these days there are some brushless motors + ESC under 3g are available, I am planning to try it out one day.

Indeed brushless motors are bound to give a better power/weight ratio.

However putting the motor in front would defeat the purpose of building an indoor flyer that can hit a wall and continue flying without even crashing.

As for pulling principles applying better? I learned that a push prop is slightly more efficient than a pulling prop. Is that not the case for a slow flyer? If so, I am curious why.

Or do you mean it would be easier to control? Probably, but as long it can be controlled I prefer the more robust configuration of a motor at the stern.
Oi233 years ago
Are you selling these blimps anywhere?
masynmachien (author)  Oi233 years ago
No, I'm not.

I might one day, when it is further developed.
-chase-4 years ago
Hey masynmachien - Nice blimp!

Couple questions for you. How much weight will it pick up?
- I ask becuase i just picked up a DXG half HD video camera which weighs approx 5 ounces... thought it might be pretty cool to lift the video camera up and see how things look from the top so to speak. ;0)

Lastly - Just out of curiousity really - have you tried running it slowly into a lite candle made to look like a wire tower or something, and filmed it with a high speed camera and played it back in slo-mo? Thought that might be pretty neat to see... the hindenburge effect kinda thing.

I read you work with kids - so the last one might be a little much depending on the age group but - on your own - might be a pretty cool thing to try...  well i'd like to try it.

I did check your link for the blimp it's in a launguage i don't under stand but i take it since the page you directed us to is pretty well blank with the exception of this:

Webshop der Deutschen Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH
Herzlichen Willkommen in unserem Webshop. Nehmen Sie sich Zeit und stöbern Sie in unseren Artikeln rund um den Zeppelin.

Not sure what it means but - if i were to guess i'd say it says something abut the page being under construction - maybe - maybe not.

can you translate this - or someone that understands the launguage translate what it means?

Any other link for the balloon? In english or with an english page.

thanx and again - real nice blimp!
-chase -
masynmachien (author)  -chase-4 years ago

The Zeppelin NT balloon lifts only about 20g (as mentionned). It belongs to the class of microblimps and so it not at all suited to carry a camera. i.

Actually, 5 ounces is rather heavy for "livingroom" or "classroom" blimps. You would need one of the larger RC blimps as used in sports or exhibition halls.
Check out http://www.blimpguys.com/ for example.

As it is filled with helium, a flame would simply puncture the envelope and have it slowly deflate. So nothing spectacular to film.

Now you mention it, although the Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei site is doubled in English, the web shop seems not to be. It is not under construction, You simply come to the start of the German version inviting you to look around and check out the articles. I will add some guiding through, both here and to the Ible:

klick on "Start Zeppelin Online Shop" or "Zeppelin-shop starten" in German. Then click on "Produktübersicht" and choose "Accessoires". Scrolling down quite a bit brings you to the balloon.
Thanx - sorry i didn't see the lifting weight first time around.

I looked at the blimpguys blinps thanx for the link btw
 - those are pretty big for what i was thinking. actually huge for what i was thiking of... suppose i could build one inbetween the size you made and those though. Shouldn't be too hard.

Btw - i found this though i'm sure there are others even smaller these days.
Wireless COLOR Pinhole Camera
Perfect for Radio controlled cars,airplanes,boats, and spying.
Weighs only 20 grams and sends
COLOR images up to 100 meters

and found a couple with 300 meter ranges.

Helium - ah haa... the Zepplin was filled with Hydrogen - don't know why i was thinking helium... my bad. Though i suppose i could fill one with hydrogen... ;0)

voting for you right after i post this as per request.
and good luck with the contest - didn't know they had one going on.

Where id you find the colour pinhole camera?
Can you supply a link? I looked but did nopt find anything I liked, (and could afford...).

BTW, masynmachien, cool dirigible!
[Yes, I know the difference, but it just sounds more cool than saying
aiship or blimp...]
Hey avatar_i,

The wireless pinhole video cameras can be fairly up there so i took a look around and you might like this one...

Its Not wireless but could still be used from what i'm seeing and it's net weight is only 14grams.

Some specs on this one are:

1280*960 full real-time video
Motion Detection
8 million-pixel digital camera
Web camera function
High-quality record function
Can record while charging
Support 16GB Micro SD Card
View range: 60 degree
Recording resolution: 1280*960@30fps

and like most digital stuff - prices go down as advancements go up.
Here is a link to it... don't know if that is in your price range or not but take a look at it..

HD Pinhole Video camera

Have fun,

masynmachien (author)  -chase-4 years ago
Thank you very much for your vote.

When choosing a size for your camera blimp project, bear in mind that the volume of a balloon, and therefore the lifting capacity changes with the scale factor raised to the power 3. That makes building small blimps a challenge. Luckily, modern miniaturisation comes to our help. When using an "RC toy" blimp 52" x 27" balloon (or an oversized 52" x 37" replacement from Plantraco), with RC gear of the latest generation you get some lift capacity to spare.

This makes room for such a pinhole camera. However pay attention to the fact that while the Blimp RC gear works on a single Lipo cell (1s, 3.7 V), the wireless cameras most often need 5V or even more, so you will have to account for extra batteries. Again, nowadays you can find Lipo batteries weighing only couple of grams per cell, of course with limited capacity.
ms104 years ago
cool i liked it thanks for sharing
masynmachien (author)  ms104 years ago
thank you
your welcome
donm4 years ago
Enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.
masynmachien (author)  donm4 years ago
Thank you for your attention!
ProCactus4 years ago
Id be filling it with Hydrogen. Then you can use bigger motors and/or batterys :)
masynmachien (author)  ProCactus4 years ago
Actually, the difference in lift capacity between hydrogen and helium is less than 10%. The use of hydrogen is clearly not worth the risk.
Yeah your right, I did some research about it. It turns out o be closer to 8%.
Even though hydrogen is approx twice as light as helium.
It has to do with the difference of density. Helium is already so much lighter then air, Even a vacume would not even make much difference.

Who would have thought :)

The only problem with helium is the price.
I still like the idea of use hydrogen though. Its a lot safer than a lot of people think.
In a vacuum, both helium and hydrogen filled balloons would sink like rocks! Or?
I never thought about it, They would fall yes.

As for like a 'rock'. I think they would.

Consider this.
Dropping a marble and a bowling ball at the same time, They both hit the ground almost simultaneously. Only the aerodynamics of the objects will affect the speed.
In a vacuum aerodynamics does not exist.

So yes, It would fall faster then a rock in air :)
masynmachien (author)  stringstretcher4 years ago
masynmachien (author)  ProCactus4 years ago
In small amounts the danger with hydrogen is not that big, obviously. But helium is still safer. And as the Hummingblimp uses only about 45 liters, the price is not that important. At the balloon shop they will typically fill it for an euro or so. You pay for the service, the helium price is only a smaller part of that. And as it keeps about a week or two, that is very reasonable cost.

For larger blimps the helium price becomes important, but then the risks become important too.

After all we're not talking about a choice between gasoline in a tank versus gas in a high pressure tank, where hydrogen can be an acceptable choice. We're talking about the choice of lifting gas in a very thin envelope.
Pajew4 years ago
Mooi gedaan, jongen. Ik zal proberen of ik een Zeppelin in Canada can krijgen.
masynmachien (author)  Pajew4 years ago
Een compliment in het Nederlands, bedankt! 

A compliment in Dutch, Thanks!

I'll continue in English, so others can read the info too.

In Canada, good sources for blimp stuff are Plantraco and Blimpguys.

As far as I know the the only source for the Zeppelin NT balloons is Deutschen Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH, but they probably ship worldwide.But you could try the California based Airshipventures.
would it be feasible to simply glue (or duct tape) one of those cheap and seriously annoying to fly RC helicopters on the zeppelin body itself?

just a random thought
masynmachien (author)  the walking stick4 years ago
It could be interesting to try, but unless you do some serious adaptions you would end up with to much power and to little control.

In fact these tiny airplanes, like those from Silverlit, in particular the ones with two motors, would be more suited to convert to a blimp, with a classic gondola set up.
Go 100% authentic and use hydrogen instead...
Hydrogen is highly explosive and therefor dangerous.
Pure Hydrogen is only explosive when mixed with oxygen. It can be fairly inert in its pure form.
Yes, so if there is a leak, it would leave an explosive mixture in the air.
Yes, H2 contact in air would be dangerous. Generally H2 mixed with air would burn with a flame, much like any other flammable gas.
However if the Hydrogen was mixed in with a stiochemetric amount of oxygen, then it would explode if ignited.
Neither situation is desirable unless you intend it to be a spectacle, such as flying the blimp over fire.
Then give an authentic end by flying it out in a thunder storm (make sure that there is a leak though or it won't be authentic)...
Oh the humanity! Hydrogen Baloon on a open fire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqFCem-3xi8
masynmachien (author)  freakyqwerty4 years ago
You're looking for more spectacle aren't you? :-D
But the Zeppelin NT airships were never filled with hydrogen. The first one was produced in 1997.
paulo5004 years ago
Yeah you don't want to use hydrogen... http://youtu.be/MMB2VR0087w
dll9324 years ago
Great idea! You might get more responsiveness if you added bow planes...just a thought.
masynmachien (author)  dll9324 years ago
Indeed, bow fins would increase responsiveness, but actually the blimp was already to responsve without any fins. So the fins were added near the stern to reduce resonsiveness and increase stability. The position and size of the fins could be tuned further to get just that responsiveness that is suited for the size of the room.
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