Friday, July 25, 2014

HO scale blimps revisited

The post HO-scale Logging Airships continues to be the second most popular at this blog. I started to wonder what it would cost to buy the parts to build one of those little blimps. When I went to the Plantranco site to cost out the parts I was pleasantly surprised to see that they now sell a nano-blimp R/C toy that looked just the right size for an HO scale layout. Naturally I immediately ordered one. It's proving harder for me to learn how to fly one of these things than I expected. That’s not a reflection on the item, just on my inept flying skills.
Basically, the kit consists of a very well engineered propulsion module, a radio control unit with joysticks, and some balloons and miscellanea. All you need to do is charge up the propulsion module, tape it to the bottom of the balloon, add some ballast to make the whole thing neutrally buoyant and you’re ready to fly. It goes together easy and works just fine. The only extra things you need to buy are some AAA batteries and helium. I bought a small tank of helium at Walmart that is marketed for filling children’s party balloons.
{A sketch of a one-person spherical airship I did back around 1985. Its envelope is very optimistically small for something getting its lift from helium.}

When I was at Walmart buying helium I also picked up a pack of white, ‘helium-proof’ balloons since the ones in the kit are coloured and marked with the seller’s brand. I wanted the balloon to look more like the LTA-20-1’s envelope.

I’m a horrible flyer and am still trying to get the hang of the controls. I don’t play video games, so I’m probably climbing some steep learning curve hand-eye coordination wise. Also, I find it a little difficult to get the blimp to be neutrally buoyant. Again, more practice is probably what’s called for.

This thing seems to have lots of potential and once I get the hang of flying it I’ll post again to try and elaborate on using it as a potential OO, HO, or N scale free-flying blimp.

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