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Thread: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

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    Registered User navigaiter's Avatar
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    UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    There's a good website where we are collaboratively designing an ultralight airship of some, as yet, unknown type. see it at smallblimps.lefora.com
    My personal design is for an ultralight dirigible which has a "fat diamond" shape and costs under ten grand. see it at skyboat.wikispaces.com
    We could use some co-conspirators

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Sport Aviation a decade or two ago had a short article and a few pics of some guy in Tennessee (I think) who made a homebuilt mini-blimp. Idea was to pump in the helium (or whatever gas), go for a ride, then suck/compress the gas back into pressure bottles for storage and fold up the bag until the next ride. Never heard more about it. Too leaky? Landing/parking/storage/too expensive gas problems? Too slow? Too limited in altitude?

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    Wink Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Their big SIZE has made storage an expensive problem for old-fashioned airships. The modern airship design must be portable to be affordable. It must be easy to break down and put in a trailer where it can be stored cheeper than in a hangar or on an apron.

    Helium lift gas is no longer affordable or desirable to since it is a non-renewable oilfield resource. Even a little ultralight airship needs 250 cubic meters of lift gas to fly and that much helium can be an absurd investment of five thousand dollars. So airship operators try to save the lift gas when they deflate. Big storage bags for airship gas have been around a hundred years, they are called "nurses." They store the gas without any compression.

    To fill an UL airship with home-made hydrogen would cost about three hundred dollars in electricity to run the electrolyzer so that's the way it's gotta go if the benefits of Lighter Than Air technology are gonna be exploited. With hydrogen, lift gas can be released every few months and renewed for not a lot of money.

    Hydrogen can be handled safely. Most people don't realize the Zeps flew a million passenger miles without incident until the Hindenburg accident. Too bad it was so spectacular or we would be using more of it today. For ultralight airship types, it's not illegal to use H2 lift gas, by the way.

    My "Skyboat" design ultralight dirigible at skyboat.wikispaces.com is being designed to be built at home for under ten grand. A LOT under ten grand.

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    BDD
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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    I think the helium we have was all created near the start of the Universe.

    At least a dirigible or blimp would reduce your getting blown around by winds. You still would limit when you fly. I've seen maybe two amateur blimps like this and they are always very interesting. It would get a lot of attention.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Quote Originally Posted by BDD View Post
    I think the helium we have was all created near the start of the Universe.
    Not at all; it's continuously being created in every star, as hydrogen fuses into helium.

    Just imagine... a tiny thermonuclear reactor to power the blimp, and the helium exhaust fills the blimp! Of course the amount of helium produced wouldn't even fill a toy blimp...

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Earth's helium is from decay of radioactive unstable nuclei and it is being created constantly inside earth. Alpha rays are just helium nuclei without their electrons. Helium is so light that it doesn't stay in the atmosphere, it reaches escape velocity at thermal energies (hydrogen too but it reacts with oxygen to form water and stays because of that / or has stayed when earth was formed from an accretion disk). Only the helium that is stored in places like natural gas pockets, can be collected.

    The gas giants have enough gravity (and are cold enough) to hold on to helium and hydrogen.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    O.K. Mr. Smarty-Pants. But the vast majority of all helium that exists in the Universe was created very near the beginning of everything. All energy or potential energy and everything that matter is made from was created at that point. If the Universe was making mostly hydrogen and helium at that time, it probably made a whole lot of it. The creation of helium at that time was, after all, on a Universal scale which would be greater than the amount made since then in stars and certainly here on Earth. Since then matter has just been recombined in stars to make heavier elements. Since it is so light it evaporates away from the atmosphere so most helium that is now present on the Earth is from fission here. Most of the primordial helium that was here when the Earth formed is now floating around in space and in about 5+ billion years could become part of the new sun and planets that will replace the ones we know about.......And maybe somebody will start a new thread about homebuilt airplanes (or maybe submarines if dolphins or cuttlefish get the upper hand that time) at about 10+ billion years from now and rehash the whole thing. That helium though will be old and decrepit and not as spry as the stuff we have floating around now, and dolphins would probably only use it as a party trick to make their voices sound even funnier than they do now. That's just the way dolphins are.

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    mz-
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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Yeah I guess one can say that alpha rays and thus earth helium is just "reliberated" helium - its protons and neutrons were hydrogen or helium originally after the big bang and were fused in a star to a heavier atom's nucleus, which then later broke up again, but these atoms had bunched up into a planet meanwhile.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Quote Originally Posted by mz- View Post
    Yeah I guess one can say that alpha rays and thus earth helium is just "reliberated" helium - its protons and neutrons were hydrogen or helium originally after the big bang and were fused in a star to a heavier atom's nucleus, which then later broke up again, but these atoms had bunched up into a planet meanwhile.
    That's the way to think...big picture. It's the ultimate reality anyway, whatever we fool ouselves into thinking in our day to day lives.

    Would a hot air blimp or dirigible work? An amateur craft would have to be transportable anyway, I assume...and you would be avoiding a huge cost and the cost and danger of hydrogen this way.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Hydrogen isn't all that dangerous. At the low density in the balloons you're not likely to get knocked out, and definitely not burned to death. suffocation is roughly impossible as the whole thing would be over in less than a minute.

    Most of the people in the Hindenburg died because of the covering and the fall. So basically falling from great heights is pretty bad- see (lethal). So as long as you pack a parachute, and have time to deploy it you should get by with minor wounds.

    Large airships present large problems.

    Doesn't seem practical, but that doesn't necessarily stop anything.


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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Cluster balloons is the way to do it. One hundred small balloons in a net would beat one large balloon.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    My worry about homebuilt airships would always be the yahoos with rifles who just could not resist taking potshots at me - such a tempting target for anyone with a BB gun upwards....
    "Aeronautical engineering is highly educated guessing, worked out to five decimal places. Fred Lindsley, Airspeed."

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Why looky there Cletus...it's one a them thar flyin' things. What say we make a little wager?

    I think I recall Steve Whtiman having been shot at when flying over the Ozarks or some place like that. You can even get shot at in major cities whe inspecting roofs. I don't assume that you would get shot at if in a balloon or home made blimp. They might tend to inspire "happy thoughts" instead.

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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    To be functional something like this should have a cruise speed of over 50mph, 70 to 80 is better, and this might be doable if you go for less helium lift and more surface lift --> a better lifting body.




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    Re: UltraLight airships can be homebuilt?

    Quote Originally Posted by BDD View Post
    I don't assume that you would get shot at if in a balloon or home made blimp. They might tend to inspire "happy thoughts" instead.
    Yes, it's less of a challenge to hit one ... but Cletus might want to shoot one anyway, just cuz it's moving: "Dang, Elmer, somethings alive thar, let's shoot it". If it was painted in bright gay colors with smiley faces on the underside it might help =)

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