Friday, March 20, 2009

Houston, you know the drill.

After thinking the hard work was almost over, we had our first test flight, and well, things did not go well. Our pololu motor controller burned out, and we lost all control over the blimp, luckily, the blimp was tethered and only one motor was spinning so it just flew around is circles till I was able to grab it and yank the battery. So we went back to basics, examining the schematics of the blimpduino which was our model. after rebuilding the power supply, and adding a pull down resistor to the reset line of the pololu, we think we finally have it!

so I have built a new board, which not only houses the improved power supply, but is also significantly lighter, which should help us out if we can get around to installing a sensor suite. soldering perf bard to a little getting used to, but I think its well worth the weight savings for a project like this.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Da bleemp Boss, DA BLEEEEMP!

Its Airborne!!!

To day I filled the envelope with helium, attached the gondola and wham! it floats! Barely! Turns out the envelope can only hold just enough helium to get he basic package aloft, this is without any of the sensors we planed to add. So now we have only a few options, have an envelope made to spec, for about $200, or buy some cheap ass latex balloons and tape them to the sides! that might actualy make for  a cool siloette...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Something awesome this way comes...

Muah ha ha! My creation is almost complete! 

I have almost finished putting together the main board for our blimp! I soldered on the power supply, attached the leads for the lipo battery, attached the pololu motor controller, and rerouted the pins for the motors and servo. All that s left now to get it flying is the connection for the xbee, which I will be adding today.

A few tips for those of you that may want to make your own:

When attaching connectors, like the one I used for our Lipo battery, check to see if the leads are removable, if so don't attempt to solder your wires to them while they are still in the plastic shroud, most likely you will melt the plastic and ruin the connector(I went thru a few myself).

when attaching something like the pololu motor controller, run your wires to the appropriate pins BEFORE you solder on the controller, this will make everything a lot easier to reach!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Holy gondola blimp man!

I have just assembled the mechanical frame work for our gondola, the motor boom arm is in place, and I even mounted the camera just for fun.

I've also settled on super gluing the Lego gear to one of the arms that came with the servo, the bond appears strong enough to work!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The internet is burning!

An electrical fire in my building has left my internet a blackened smoldering ruing, leaving me stranded for days with no way to post, and more cruelly, with no real way to look up soldering diagrams and schematics!

trying to suck the necessary info through my iphone gave me a headache but I was able to complete assembly on a few more aspects of the blimp.

Namely the xbee adapter from lady ada, which I discovered does not take kindly to the xbee pro module, requiring the bending and fiddling of several pieces in order to make everything fit.

on the mechanical front, I built the motor boom arm from the blimpduino specs(, however im still having trouble mating the lego gear with my servo, initially I attempted to simply force the thing on, which is more or less what the blimpduino instructions recommend, but the piece kept popping off, now I think im gonna glue the gear to one of the arms the servo came with, taking extra care to make sure it is centered. I also built myslef a power supply and began planning how im gonna run both the 7.4 volts required by the motors and the 5v needed for the arduino itself. TO that end ive started messing around with a blank pcb prototype board, and now im sort of bent on having my own pcb made for this project.

as for mounting it all together I have opted for plasticard instead of plywood, I think it will be lighter and easier to work with. Pictures will follow soon, stay tuned true belivers.