Re: Current airship project

> Hi Patrick,
> >       I also posted recently on the domesteading list (you can find that 
> > thread in the archives at ) abou
> t 
> > using 3D graphics tools for visualization. I'll see if I can make a 3D mode
> l
> > of what I understand from your sketch, and post it if I get something
> > worthwhile... 
> ...
> > Here's what I got, but I didn't do the flat bits on the wing tips. 
> Wow! Thanks for drawing, it looks cooler than the kinda saggy airship in my
> apartment.
  Certainly! This is exactly what that other thread was about: Using 3D
visualization tools to help get ideas across quickly, and in a form that's
intuitive and somewhat realistic. They say that a picture's worth a
thousand words, and I know from the amount of time it takes me to explain a
complex concept vs. being able to show a picture or a model that this is
definitely true. 
  There's also something to be said for rapid-prototyping, as it quickly
lets ideas bounce around and cross-pollenate different people. That's why
I'm encouraging others to look into these tools, and learn how to use
them. I just checked the timestamps on those two posts, yesterday, and it
was just 59 minutes between my saying I'd try a model, and when the model
was posted. (I was surprised, actually, and that involved my having to do
several different steps on different computers.) It really is pretty
amazing what these tools can do. 
  I'd encourage folks to check out the Moray Modeller (which I used to make
that model, and the ones on my Autonomous House Page, which is linked off
the main Sculptors website. Moray is at and runs
on Windows. There are other modellers for Linux and Unix and Mac.
POV-Ray is the Persistence of Vision Raytracer, and it's available at It's what turns those models into cool raytraced
pictures. Both are available at no cost, but you can register Moray if you
find it useful. (I used it for 9 months before registering. It doesn't
suffer from "crippleware" features like not letting you save, etc. Just
reminds you that you should consider registering if you really are finding
it useful, which I was (and still am!)
> > We use a 10mil polyethylene sheeting material for our greenhouse 
> >cover. It's available in 20' wide sheeting, (and as long as you want it, I 
> >think.)
> Thanks for the offer, for now for the 4 m airship, I'm planning on using 5 mi
> l
> translucent woven polyethylene, basically thin tarp material from a company i
> n
> Canada that I've ordered from before. Do you have the tools to bond the edges
>  of
> the tarp and ideally add grommets in the edges? How long does the material la
> st
> before it degrades in the sunlight?

  I don't have those tools. But I got it from a greenhouse supply company:

	It's designed for use in greenhouses, so it's made to withstand at
least 3-4 years in direct sunlight. 
> >	I have also seen some larger (8-12") DC fans available in used parts 
nn> >stores.
> That's really useful information, especially since this airship design needs 
> a
> relatively high positive pressure to keep the wing tips straight out. They te
> nd
> to droop if the pressure is low. So a bigger DC fan would really help and cut
> the inflation time, which is about a half hour for the 1.5 m airship with a t
> iny
> 1 inch computer fan.
  How is it inflated? I thought it was helium inside, not just regular air,
or do you have a helium bladder inside of the main body? Seems like the
helium would be pressurized, and wouldn't need a fan to inflate...

> > And I bought a little 5W solar panel which I use to run 3 different DC 
> >computer fans in the greenhouse to keep air circulating on hot days. With 
> >something as large as this, or the bigger one you're making, you could easil
> y 
> >make it solar powered (if it's not already.)
> I'm planning using battery power for now, mainly because I already have a 12 
> V
> gel cell lead acid battery. In future I would like to use solar panels,
> especially if hanging a panel with a reflective concentrator from the top cen
> ter
> of the airship works.
> Thanks,
> Enrique
  Yeah, I think solar would be a cool way to go, eventually. You should
look around your area for a used electronics store. Here in Silicon Valley,
we have a few of them. "Weird Stuff" used to be the place to go, but has
gone down in quality the past few years. "HalTed" is now the place that
seems to get most mention from techno-geeks. Thousands of fans, parts,
chips, diodes, etc. 


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