RC Zeppelin (dirigible)

Introduction: RC Zeppelin (dirigible)

In this instructable I will show you how I built an rc zeppelin/ dirigible.


Dollar tree foam board, bass wood strips, tissue paper, space blankets, brushless motor, esc, transmitter, receiver, two servos, extension cables for the servos, a Lipo battery (as light as possible), super glue, a hot glue gun, glue sticks, 3d printer filament, a 3d printer, fishing line, some wrapping paper, (or construction paper), twine, coins, and paint.

Step 1: Build the Gondola

You can build the gondola out of balsa wood or foam, but I 3D printed mine. You design it in a cad software and print it out

Step 2: Glue the Gondola Together

To glue it together I used gorilla epoxy

Step 3: Cover and Paint It

Zeppelins are usually gray or silver so I used gray primer. I designed my gondola to be a skeleton structure so I could cover it in tissue paper for minimum weight.

Step 4: Mount the Motor and Electronics

Pile all of the electronics and control mechanisms on a scale that reads grams. I used Omni balloons calculator to determine the size of the balloon. You need to enter the weight of your gondola and add the weight of your balloon. Assign the diameter of your balloon and you will find how tall or wide your balloon needs to be. ( I just added 100 grams to my weight for the balloon structure

Step 5: Build the Balloon

To build the balloon structure I got 24” by 3” bass wood strips and some foam board from the dollar store. I cut the foam board into 24” decagons that had a 1cm wall thickness. I cut the bass wood into strips 4mm wide. I glued it together with hot glue and lots of patience.

Step 6: Cover the Balloon

This part requires lots and lots of patience. You take some tissue paper, (gray Preferably), and use a glue stick to attach the tissue paper to the wood and foam. I highly recommend getting help for this part. You have to do one section at a time and press every edge onto the wood/foam covered balloon structure. This is probably the most difficult part, and the most boring. I recommend just doing it step by step and push through. Make sure to leave the bottom open to put in the bladder!

Step 7: Drill Holes in the Gondola

You need to drill at least four holes in the gondola to mount the cable. I used fishing line to mount the gondola to the balloon.

Step 8: Build the Bladder

I used Mylar space blankets to build the bladder for the helium. I chose helium instead of hydrogen because I don’t want to light anything on fire from the hydrogen igniting. I measured the balloon structure and cut out a template from wrapping paper. I cut the Mylar blanket about 2” from the edge of the wrapping paper and hot glued the edges. Make sure you seal all of the gaps!

Step 9: Add Control Surfaces

I built a rudder from bass wood and hot glue. I covered it in tissue paper and used straws and bbq skewers for the hinge. For pitch I modified a 5 gram servo to make it spin continuously to shift a small weight forward and backward to tip the balloon.

Step 10: Put the Bladder in the Structure and Fly It

Unfortunately I didn’t get to fly it in time for the contest but I will update the instructable with a flight video.

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