View Full Version : indoor airship

04-19-2008, 05:28 PM
Zeppelin maybe. I would like to build an indoor airship. It doesn't have to do anything other than slowly traverse a predescribed loop around the room. One idea that comes to mind is to arrange a 'track' on the ceiling, from which a series of air jets would blow downwards. If the airship is simply a helium filled gas bag, it could possibly be kept in a 'holding pattern' by a few stategically placed air jets from above. It could also be caused to move by making it follow the low pressure area created by an air jet. These jets would be controlled by numerous tiny electromagnetic valves, and if operated in sequence, the 'front' of the airship would travel along following the low pressure regions.

The 'track' in this case could be nearly invisible, as all it would need to show is a series of tiny holes in the ceiling. I would probably be integrating this in the dropped layer that hides the room lighting, so it would be relatively easy to implement.

I could easily do this by suspending the craft from fishing line, which hangs from a motorized dolly that travels a track, but if I can make this 'invisible' system work, I'd rather. Any ideas?

By the way, in this case the craft would do nothing more than carry advertising, airbrushed on by an artist. If I used some tethered method, it could carry more stuff and probably look more realistic. I have toyed with the idea of 'deploying' the airship with an articulated arm system, much like the Canadarm which Nasa uses. If I did that, it could carry a video camera, lights, sound-

Ideally, it would have the camera, lights, etc, AND be invisibly hung and powered. I haven't figured out that trick yet, though.

brian Rupnow
04-19-2008, 07:02 PM
I have a small anti gravity device that I liberated from a crashed alien spaceship---I could let you have it for $2,000,000, but you would have to pay the shipping. I actually had two, but I undone the tether on one and the darn thing floated away----

04-19-2008, 07:05 PM
"Gas bag full of Hot air", He should be on any minute now.

It is his wake up time in OZ. :)

04-19-2008, 07:12 PM
this sounds like a great advertising vehicle for the mall of america. is that kinda what you were thinking or ? ? ? ? ? sould we tell the dr. to up your meds ? :D

04-19-2008, 08:16 PM
And besides, I already have the copywright on being invisibly hung uh er I mean.....

04-19-2008, 08:24 PM
My man Panamarenko, a wacky Belgian sculptor from Antwerp, has this one all figured out-

Of course, his is a bit bigger than what you are thinking of.
check out all the other machines and vehicles he has made- all semi-functional and utterly useless. Except to him, of course...


04-19-2008, 08:29 PM
You are a little late there any number of companies making RC indoor blimps for fun and profit. Tower hobbies had a number of them for sale.
and the track in the suspended ceiling With the motor unit on the top side.

04-19-2008, 08:35 PM
Thanks Ries.

That is some man and some web site.

Very impressive.

04-20-2008, 12:40 AM
Thanks for the laughs. I'm going to pass on the $2 million alien craft, though it would be fun to take a spin in it. Maybe I took the wrong meds this morning- was it six purple ones and two green ones, or the other way 'round- :)

Actually the idea of the mall advertising thing is right on- only this is one store only. I think my idea will work, but it may break down when it has to contend with the overhead gas heater.

Well, I'm off to check out that link.

Ok, that's a tad larger than I had in mind. Who's got a tank big enough to derust that thing- looks like it needs it.

loose nut
04-20-2008, 09:48 AM
I have toyed with the idea of 'deploying' the airship with an articulated arm system, much like the Canadarm which Nasa uses. If I did that, it could carry a video camera, lights, sound-

Ideally, it would have the camera, lights, etc, AND be invisibly hung and powered. I haven't figured out that trick yet, though.

To carry that much weight it would probably be quite large.

If you search the net you can find video of radio control model Zeppelins, I have seen them fly at the R/C show in Toledo many years ago.

04-20-2008, 12:35 PM
They have been flying these around inside sports arenas for years. There are a couple that circle around inside the Super dome and have LED light arrays on the sides just like the full size ones.

04-20-2008, 12:43 PM
Darryl, dunno if this will help, but I played around with a robot navigation system a coupla years back.
It was an indoor setup, but on the ground.
Basically, it is a set of beacons comprising IR LEDs and a pic chip flashing each one in a code sequence. The vehicle would acquire and home on each beacon sequentially.
Altitude is up to you :D

Paul Alciatore
04-20-2008, 01:33 PM
I know I have seen RC blimps with ad messages at indoor events. They all have had had a guy at the controls: you meed to look around a bit and you can spot him. (I don't know why it is never a gal.) A blimp would be the way to go as any heavier than air craft would need a lot of stops for refueling and that would mean a full time human operator which you seem to be trying to avoid.

Unless this is a permanent installation, I would forgo any installed "track". Instead look for some kind of inexpensive guidance system like an altitude control that holds the height above the floor or below the ceiling and a sensor that provides a suedo random turn when it approaches a wall or other object. These controls do not need to be overly accurate and some variation in the action will likely attract more interest than a strictly programmed course that is percisely followed. There are proximity or motion sensors out there which could be impressed into service here: I am just not sure which would be the best or easiest.

A good place to ask for advice is the Servo/Nuts & Volts forum:


It is a lot like this one but for electronics types. I would be willing to bet that someone there has already done this.

04-21-2008, 02:02 AM
RC is not going to work for this, precisely because it needs an operator full time. For someone to go to the control panel and operate the camera at times would be fine, otherwise the camera is just there, seeing what it does depending on where it's pointed at the time. We mulled this over agian today, and it's been determined that it will be tethered in some way, or on an articulated arm which simply follows a program. Those who make the decisions on this project don't seem to care if the blimp, or whatever it would be, is strung up by wires. It also seems now that it will only have to follow a single line track, as in move slowly one way for 30 ft, then move back along the same path for 30 ft, etc.

My initial idea has gone down in flames (any reference to the Hindenburg unintended) partly because you couldn't carry a camera, and partly because they didn't think it would 'fly'. If I can't guarantee that it won't go out of control everytime the door opens or the heater fan comes on, then forget it. Ok.

So now I have another idea- a loop of fine wire going around a pulley at each end wall (about 40 ft apart)- the loop is two pieces of wire separated by insulators, so each wire can have a brush and pick up juice from a power supply. The juice runs the camera and also carries control signals. The camera would probably just transmit its signal wirelessly. The blimp would be suspended from the loop by two wires, which feed the juice to the blimp, and provide some directional control. One of the pulleys is motorized and would normally just slowly cycle back and forth, unless an operator wanted to take control to run the camera.

Not as elegant, but far more practical. And I agree, the articulated arm would have to be pretty substantial to do the job- this itself would probably cost more than the entire startup budget for this business.

04-21-2008, 09:24 AM
If you want to build an RC blimp - or anything else RC with an electric motor - this is the place to go - http://www.rcgroups.com/blimps-62/

Use of RC aerial cameras is here - http://www.rcgroups.com/aerial-photography-128/


04-21-2008, 11:03 AM
darryl, your going to have to completely design the track and traversing system. You can probably find a blimp vehicle to use but expect the air currents to affect it unless it has lots of ballast. If it escapes from it's tether expect a lawsuit for damages from the falling weight on someone. Be sure to have lots of liability insurance for it.

04-21-2008, 12:20 PM
I'm sure you will find this interesting Darryl