Airship and Blimp Resources The Reference on Airships 

RC Blimp Parts

In order to be fully maneuvrable, most RC Airship designs include the following components:

The Envelope or Hull
The envelope is the hardest part to build because it is something that you don't find in other RC models. Most RC airships are non-rigid, so called blimps. They have a flexible envelope in cigar shape that is kept in form by internal over-pressure. You can also try to construct a rigid structure but you are very likely to encounter serieous overweight problems. You can build a heliumproof envelope with mylar foil which is sold in outdoor stores as survival blanket. It is light but fragile. You can bond it together with a normal iron by putting some nylon tape along the seem between the two layers of foil. Watch the temperature. Excellent plans and instructions for building your own RC Blimp are available at the West Coast Blimps homepage.

The Gondola
The gondola usually contains the receiver and battery and has the motors attached to its outside or back. The easiest solution is probably to have one motor aft but it's definately worth the fun to have two motors, one on each side like on most of today's blimps. You can even be courageous and plan motors that can tilt up and down like on the Skyship blimps. That feature is called vectored thrust. The alternative to gondola mounted motors is to have them in seperate gondolas on the sides of the ship or underneath it, like on the classic Zeppelins. Having them at a distance from the other equipment helps to distribute the weight load.

The Power Plant
You have the option of using either combustion engines or electric motors. I strongly advise the use of electric power since it allows for very precise throttling combined with today's electronic speed controllers. Even though an electric system is generally heavier than a combustion engine, the added benefit of reversability will drastically improve low speed manoeuvrability. In addition, an electric system keeps the same weight and does not affect buoyancy unlike a engine that burns gas and makes the ship lighter during flight. Usually, large props with low rpm (possibly through a reduction gear) are more efficient than small, fast-turning propellers.

The Tail Surfaces (Rudders)
The tail surfaces and rudders need to be designed so that they allow effective control of the direction of the airship. They are also important for the stabilization of the airship. Without them the ship often progresses in some sort of wave-like motion. Usually rudders for airships are built in the same way as those for RC planes, just lighter and especially with more surface. I recommend a light balsa or styrofoam structure covered with Monokote.

I hope that this page will help you to better understand RC Airships. Maybe this information will even get you started with your own design. Excellent plans and instructions for building your own RC Blimp are available at the West Coast Blimps homepage.

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