May 31, 2007
Up Up and Away!
So you want to make yourself a blimp. You've got a bunch of fancy electonical gizmos, some motors and propellers and a balloon full of helium. You're ready to go, right? Not so fast, hotshot. You're going to need something to tie all that stuff together. That's where the BlimpBot chassis comes in. Our blimp chassis had to be lightweight, stable, relatively aerodynamic, as well as accomodate batteries, motors, circuit boards and take a bump or two. Having access to the A&D school's laser cutter, we were able to work through a number of chassis designs in wood and acrylic. The acrylic designs ended up being heavier than the 1/8" model aircraft plywood we went with. We finally settled on a design that snapped together like a model airplane and was held together with wood glue. Mini zip ties held the battery and pcb board on. A dab of glue and some electrical tape wound around the motor housing secured the motors. The bumpers were made from carbon fiber strips from the hobby shop, bound with fishing line. The chassis was taped to the polyurethane blimp bags.
Below are the graphic files of the layout we used for the laser cutter. The idea was to get as much mileage as possible out of each 12" by 24" piece of plywood!