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helium blimp camera platform

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Old 12-09-2002, 02:19 AM
  #1  
Capt Jim
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Default helium blimp camera platform

I am considering trying a R/C helium blimp, with electric motors, as a camera platform. I expect this would eliminate vibration from the camera mount, and the noiseless vehicle could be launched almost anywhere. Payload is a problem though. It takes a very big helium baloon/blimp to lift any usefull weight, and the blimp envelope is fragile. Helium could get to be a major expense in the volume required, so perhaps a van or truck would be required to carry and store the fully inflated blimp, so as to save the helium between flights. I dont know about losses of helium due to envelope porosity. This whole idea is posing some interesting challanges and I'd like to hear from others with some experience with any of this. I hope to use a camera and transmitter on board, sending the video signal down to a ground based receiver and recorder. I need to learn about the video quality required to provide a clean and useful image, and the weight of such equipment. Another question is how to keep it from floating away, since it will be flying free and not tethered.. Full scale blimps apparently have "balloonettes"; air chambers inside the envelope which can be inflated/deflated as required to adjust bouyancy and trim. I am obviously early in the learning curve, and would appreciate hearing from others who have perhaps tried this, or something similar.
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Old 12-10-2002, 12:16 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

could you pump the helium back into a container when done flying, You might not get it all but it might help
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Old 12-10-2002, 01:22 AM
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BruceDana
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Default helium blimp camera platform

A buddy of mine into Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) and Pole Aerial Photography (PAP) gave up on balloons. To save $$$, he used weather balloons - tethered.

Even a little wind is a BIG wind to a balloon. Takes a large volume of helium to lift anything, and transportation is a pain (weather balloons can be deflated and the helium recovered if you have the proper equipment, which he does, but the pain to do it was not worth it). Then the cost of a large volume of helium.

You can contact him via e-mail (link provided below). He has taken some nice photo's from telecoping poles (like found on TV transmitter trucks) which he has instructions on how to build. He also photo's from kites, using a pulley rig with a French name to stabilize the camera.

Here's a link:

http://www.bird-shots.com/xap.htm
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Old 12-10-2002, 06:36 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

I heard some numbers tonight on Monster Garage - it said that it takes 10,000 cubic feet of hot air to lift 150 lbs. Just thought the conversion might be helpful in your situation....

--CG
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Old 12-11-2002, 12:08 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

I have a small 7 foot helium airship that I've used in the past as a camera platform indoors. It has a payload capacity after loading the gondola, batteries, props, etc. of about 7 ounces. We were able to put together a small high-resolution color camera on a 2-servo pan/tilt and HAM downlink transmitter in a package that weighed about 4 ounces.

I understand that to fly outside you need rather powerful engines as the wind is a major factor, which means an airship more in the 25+ foot range to carry the weight and gas engines if you want any reasonable time aloft.

The guys who I got most of the flight gear from was a canadian company called Mobile Airships. www.blimpguys.com. You can check out their website to get some idea of the technical specifications of their outdoor blimps and camera platforms.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 12-15-2002, 04:18 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

Airworks Inc. has been building RC and tethered blimps/camera platforms for aerostar & flight brothers since 1987. Most are used by pro sports teams for indoor advertising but I have built several outdoor airships with camera downlink also. Email me if you have questions...I have probably done it before.

http://www.rcblimp.com/
http://giftofwings.com

Hank
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Old 12-16-2002, 09:50 PM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

I have experience flying a 30' airship known as a Grizzley. It takes a lot of room to fly if there is any wind, and it is a very expensive setup. With 900 feet of helium inside it takes 6 or 7 pounds of ballast to get the entire thing to 'weigh' about 2 pounds, which is optimal for this size of a blimp. We are looking into mounting a camera system and connecting that to a separate transmitter so the camera operator can concentrate on that operation while the pilot flies. Pics of the blimp can be seen in my Photo Gallery.
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Old 12-16-2002, 10:11 PM
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Default University of Illinois half-time shows...

The owner of a local hobby shop (Slot and Wing Hobbies) in Champaign, Illinois used to fly a RC blimp during the half-time shows of college basketball games. He's been doing it for years and could be a good source of information.

-Juhan
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Old 12-18-2002, 09:25 PM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

I also fly blimps at half time shows. The envelopes leak bad. You won't be able to store them with helium in them. they leak out. I We have had many enevelopes for the baloon and they have all leaked the same. They get holes in them very easy. I am pretty sure it will lift the light camera. Not much more. Ours is about 12 feet long. They are expensive to keep filled and will not fly in the wind. Just the air system in the field house blows it to the ground once in a while. Really comes down fast if you get close to a hallogen light. Blows big holes in it. They are fun though. I will probably mount a vidio on it this year.
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Old 12-20-2002, 05:11 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

If you go with REVO envelopes you will not have bad leaks. They average about a 2% loss each night. We had the 30 footer up for about five days and ended up using about half a bottle to keep it filled for the week.
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Old 12-20-2002, 08:40 AM
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Default helium blimp camera platform

Originally posted by nIgHthAwK17
I heard some numbers tonight on Monster Garage - it said that it takes 10,000 cubic feet of hot air to lift 150 lbs. Just thought the conversion might be helpful in your situation....

--CG
Not the same unless he is using a hot-air balloon. Helium is much less dense than air.
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