Introduction: My Airship: Vickers R80 Inspired

About: I'm an actor/tech/IT/graphics/editor/writer kind of guy. I do a fair share of voice over work and have the full time gig at Bard College at Simon's Rock. While waiting for machines to do things, I hit the wo…

I had a couple weeks to build something. An airship it is!


PET-G filament

Oak strips

tapestry thread

spandex fabric

hot glue

white latex paint

LED strip lights

Half a rubber ball.


Crealty 10S 3D printer

Fusion 360 software

Adobe Illustrator

Ultimaker Cura slicer

Table saw

Hot glue gun


Step 1: The Research

There are great websites out there on the history and construction of airships. I chose the Vickers R80 to be the base design as it was the first streamlined airship constructed. (or so they say.)

From there I sketched out ideas in Illustrator, exported the files into Fusion 360, then over to Ultimaker Cura to be sliced. I printed them on my Creality 10S using PET-G

Step 2: Staying Organized

As each part was printed, I put in into a slot on a piece of foam. So I could keep track of what needed to be printed next.

Step 3: The Girders

I had a bunch of scrap oak that I ripped into strips on the table saw. Then taped them together and made a pass over the blade every 3.75 inches to create a notch.

Step 4: Hot Glue and String!

Sounds like the name of a band. Hot Glue and String.

Starting from the center sections, since they were all the same. I glued the strips to the printed parts. Then continued to work out from the center gluing each section in. LET THE GLUE DRY

Once all the girders were glued in. I went back with tapestry thread and created rigging. I was going to skip it, but once I did a fabric test, it made a difference. So I strung up the whole thing.

I was going to use a hollow rubber ball, or at least half of one, for the nose cone.

Step 5: Lighting

Using some LED lights wound around a plastic core, then inserted into a polycarbonate tube. (The type that protects a florescent light)

I sanded the tube to try to defuse the light. It "kinda" worked. (ok, not really.)

I slid that light stick into the center of the craft.

Boy that sounds dirty.

Step 6: Skinning

The spandex is really stretchy. It was easy to wrap the skeleton, pin it, then pull it off like a banana, and run it through the sewing machine. (well easy for my wife anyway.)

Then the skin rolled on like a condom.

I had pre-glued some foam blocks between the stations to allow for easy insertion of the engine modules and control car.

Step 7: Control Car

I 3D printed the control car I modeled up in Fusion 360. Then using a Dremel, drilled out the windows. it wasn't as neat as I'd like, but we were under a deadline.

The screws were glued in, and easily poked through the fabric and foam. The hot glue held it in place.

Step 8: Hang It.

It's really lightweight. A couple zip ties through the frame, and some string to tie it to the ceiling. Plug it in, open the app to control the color and brightness, and done.

The cloud was built in a previous project for a theater event. I just added the LED lightning effect with 4 LEDs programmed to flash like lighting. They were from Nightfire Electronics in Florida. I had to create a delayed power supply so that they triggered differently, as I wasn't about to go digging in and reprogramming them. Just some resistors and a few salvaged capacitors. Boom, cloud lightning.

Step 9: Marvel.

I tackled this project in a few weeks after being asked to submit something for a gallery show. I had done rayguns in the past, and wanted something different. So this was created and combined with the cloud.

I'm happy with it.