How to build a model blimp

Written by larry simmons
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Model blimps are easy to build model aircraft. Built primarily for indoor flight, a model blimp is a slow-flying, quiet and safe model that's usable by hobbyists of all ages. The simplicity of blimp control makes it as easy to fly as it is to build. Creating an introductory airship is suitable for those just discovering the fun to be had with remote-controlled models.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 3-channel blimp kit
  • Helium gas
  • Mylar tank nozzle
  • 2-sided tape
  • Batteries
  • Ballast putty

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Instructions

    Blimp Building

  1. 1

    Purchase the three-channel blimp kit online from RCToys.com, Amazon.com, or from a local hobby shop. Most blimp kits come with the blimp envelope, which forms the body of the blimp, a gondola containing the engines and remote receiver, a radio transmitter and tail fins.

  2. 2

    Fill the blimp envelope with helium gas using a tank nozzle specifically made for Mylar balloons. Fill the blimp envelope until its firm, with the surface able to provide some give if pressed. Watch the seams of the envelope for indications of too much internal stress. If the seams appear ready to separate, stop filling the blimp envelope and release a small amount of the gas.

  3. 3

    Attach the tail fins to the blimp using two-sided tape. The fins should be attached at the very rear of the blimp envelope. Going by the face of a clock, place a fin at the 12 o'clock position, one at 3'oclock, one at 6 o'clock and one at 9 o'clock.

  4. 4

    Establish the balance point for the airship envelope by holding the blimp by the bottom seam and watching for a rise or fall in the front end of the blimp. If the front falls, the balance point is forward of where you're holding it, if it rises the balance point is to the rear. Adjust your hold until you've determined where it is.

  5. 5

    Center the gondola on the balance point of the blimp envelope. Attach it to the envelope using the two-sided tape with the side engines in line at both sides of the blimp.

  6. 6

    Install the batteries into the gondola and the radio transmitter. Check the manuals for size batteries.

  7. 7

    Use the ballast putty to bring the blimp to neutral buoyancy where the blimp neither rises nor falls. Attach the putty to the bottom of the gondola until the blimp floats in place. If the blimp falls without any putty being applied then you will need to add more air to the envelope until it rises on its own.

Tips and warnings

  • If the room you're using to fill the blimp is cold use less air, as warm air will cause the gas to expand which may pop the blimp.
  • The helium in the blimp should last for up to two weeks. As it dissipates, the balloon will lose buoyancy and sink.

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