Instructables

ZAPpelin, or how to train your blimp with an Arduino and IR remote

Featured
Picture of ZAPpelin, or how to train your blimp with an Arduino and IR remote
IMG_6094.jpg
IMG_6124.jpg
IMG_6119.jpg
IMG_6095.jpg
IMG_6102.jpg
IMG_6137.jpg
Is it flying seal? A flapping alien?

No it's a ZAPpelin, an Arduino controlled indoor blimp, setup to learn in the signals from an IR remote to command it.

This project came to life at the third Arduino Jam Februari 15th to17th 2013, at Timelab, Ghent, Belgium.

Our team consisted of:
-charles32
-mgossye
-myself (masynmachien)

The main challenges we set ourselves:
- Keeping the weight down. The Zappelin should be reasonably small to be used in a living room.
- Keeping costs down by using an ordinary "TV style" IR remote most of us have lying around at home. (the high inertia of a blimp made this possible).
- Using the advantage of an Arduino over standard modelling RC equipment to use an alternative propulsion concept.

Here's a video of the ZAPpelin in action:

If you like this Ible, please give it your vote. Thanks!
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Parts and materials:

Picture of Parts and materials:
For a DIY Arduino board:
• 28-pin DIP IC Socket
• 16MHz crystal
• momentary push-button (optional)
• 10 k0hm resistor
• 2 x 22pF capacitors
• ATMega168 or 328 microcontroller chip
• breadboard style perf board
• a row of 6 female headers
• some thin wire

IR sensor:
• we used a PNA4602 type (as the ones Adafruit)

Hardware to program:
•USB to UART converter
•Arduino board (used as ISP for changing fuse bits)

Remote control
Any "TV style" IR remote control. We used an Apple one, but other worked too.

Software:
•Arduino 1.0 (or later)
•avrdude

RC gear:
• Two ultra micro servo under 2.5g (a regular type, not linear ones). We used a so called HK-5320 1.7 g servo, which actually weighs 1.9g with wires and connector. It turns out these have alimited mechanical range of about 100°. The slightly heavier (actually 0.5g heavier). HK-282A does have a 180° mechanical range, and would be my choice for a new build. I was not yet able to determine the mechancal range of the intermediate (in weight) HK-5330.
• Two extension leads with connectors compatible with the servos and one for the battery (the Hobby King servo connectors are compatible with the common “minium battery connectors”)
• A 1s LiPo battery around 2.5 to 4g.  Obviously you will need a suitable charger (not shown).

Balloon and helium:
• You can have your ballons filledat the balloon shop for a couple of euro or bring home a helium bottle (rented or bought, around 50 EUR for a canister + 50 balloons).
• The lift capacity of the balloon needed depends on the gear used. It should be about 20 to 25 g. Our first attempt was based on my favourite Zeppelin NT Mylar balloon carrying a good 17g. The Zeppelin NT blimp balloon can be ordered from Deutschen Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH (you can find it by clicking klick on "Produktubersicht", choosing "Accessoires" and scrolling down).
• To add an extra control function we needed more lift and added a latex balloon. Depending on temperature and moisture a latex balloon will last longer or shorter. The spare buoyancy needed for this project lasted roughly a day.
Remark: with an Arduino pro mini 3.3V we would have saved about 5 g and this would not have been needed.

For the fins:
• Some EPP sheet (Expanded PolyPropylene), 3 mm thick. We used a triangle with two 22 cm long to start with.
• Three times about 5cm of 0.8 to 1mm diameter carbon rod.
• a piece of extruded polystyrene (Depron or similar), 3mm thick, 35cm long, 5cm wide.

For assembly and trimming:
• Some sewing thread.
• Superglue.
• Scotch tape.
• A couple of grams of putty, to be used as trim ballast.

Tools:
• A precision soldering iron and solder
• A scale accurate to 0.1g.
• Scissors.
astral_mage10 months ago
ok if u guys put a rfid chip on it. then put long range rfid sensers around the shop linked to a controller comp u could pretty much turn the blimp into a zoned unit it'ill fly around ina circut of yr choosing.
masynmachien (author) 10 months ago
No I do not have a kit. And I'm not planning on one.
You can replace the DIY Arduino board with an Arduino pro mini 3.3V to simplify things and add the sensor, 2 servo's, battery, balloon and foam sheet as listed.

If you are into a simpler blimp project check out this one: http://www.instructables.com/id/13-RC-Blimp/
botmaluco10 months ago
Hello,

Sorry for the late reply.
I saw your article about your zappelin and i would like to build one like yours.
I wonder, do you have a kit ready for sale?

Thank you
botmaluco1 year ago
Hello, I know you don´t knoe who I am but I am a great fan of everything that flies. I would like to ask if you could help me in building a zeplin. I think that it is fasinating...my mail is botmaluco@yahoo.com.br...if it is possible would you send me a tutorial, with a list of all the material necessary and the code...thank you very much
masynmachien (author)  botmaluco1 year ago
Great to hear we share a fascination.
But I'm not clear what kind of tutorial you wish for. This Ible is a tutorial, with a list of materials and the code for this specific type of blimp.
I can try and help you some more but then I should know more what kind of blimp you are thinking of.
masynmachien (author) 1 year ago
Glad to bring inspiration.

Bare in mind the lift capacity of a hot air balloon compared to it's volume is much less than for helium, and for a solar balloon probably even more so. So you wil need a big balloon.

Also important is that to steer a balloon outdoors you ned quite some power
As volume varies to the third power compared to linear dimensions, this meens that helium filled outdoor RC blimp start at volumes of about cubic meter. For hot air balloons one should think of at least several cubic meters (see existing model RC hot air balloons without propulsion) Probably 10's of cubic metersfor propulsion in "no wind" conditions"

A hot air balloon with an RC controlled camera, tethered or fre flight) would be easier mith the tiny camera's and RC gear available today.

Existing solar balloons ar made out of black, very thin plastic sheet. In good conditions (sunny, yet cold) they create enough lift to carry themselves, but as soon the conditions are not perfect the balloons come regularely back down.

A concentrator sounds interesting, but it is not obvious this brings more extra lift than is lost with it's own weight and higher heat losses (higher surfave temperature).

Please keep me posted on any further calculations or experiments.

succes!



MTJimL1 year ago
Your project caused me to think of a solar, GPS-guided hot air blimp. To be used in daylight hours, it would suspend a Mylar solar reflector beneath the blimp, reflecting a focused field of solar heat onto a matte-black panel on the underside of the envelope. It could be programmed via arduino, or radio controlled, with electronics and propulsion powered by active solar panels.
JO3RI1 year ago
You were featured, ;-)

Very good
mgossye1 year ago
We were the second. The first place was for Four-On-A-Glow
It looks like it's behaving a little like a cross between an Ornithopter, and a fish, something I've been wondering about for some time, did you test any other shapes for the fins?

Where can one obtain such nice blimp shaped enveloped.
masynmachien (author)  Dream Dragon1 year ago
Thanks!

You can get the Zeppelin balloon from the Zeppelin Reederei.

I forgot to add a link were it was mentionned under materials and tools. I did now, but here it is for your convenience: Deutschen Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH (you can find it by clicking klick on "Produktubersicht", choosing "Accessoires" and scrolling down).
ynze1 year ago
Can't believe I'm the first who comments on this. Such a lovely Blimp! It moves so gracefully! Love it, wonderful project.
sunshiine ynze1 year ago
I faved!!!! So fun.
sunshiine1 year ago
This is totally awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!