A common question that’s asked is whether or not we take on custom projects. The answer is an emphatic yes! Roughly 75% of our business is sourced from custom requirements. The very nature of use cases that airships satisfy practically demands custom work. Indoor or outdoor operation, temperature variance, payload requirements, and endurance requirements enumerate only a subset of considerations when crafting a blimp, and the possible permutations from only those dimensions already creates dozens of eventual output designs.
The Seen RC Blimps with the Unseen Potential Airships have historically been associated with wealthy benefactors, whether from governments or from large companies. It becomes interesting to consider that no large players have seriously dabbled in airship sponsorship in what is now almost a century ago. It’s then worth highlighting the disconnect between what is seen of RC blimps today and in particular with our own company and what we would be comfortable to define what is in the realm of possibility given a large budget.
Our conventional history as an RC Blimp company branched out into a unique contract with Egan Airships. EBlimp provided feedback and production of a proposed hybrid airship design intended to mitigate conventional risks associated with fixed-wing drone flight. An introduction of the said design is on display above. Hybrid Airship Manufacturing The final production aircraft for this project was built entirely to custom specifications. Initial analysis, prototype production, flight testing, and then building a final production aircraft about 30 feet long all occurred within six months.
To an outsider, and most likely to a consumer making his or her first RC blimp purchase, all blimps look more or less the same. As an engineer, it’s heartbreaking to see people opt for a competitor’s RC blimp based on surface level cost. In reality, a blimp’s performance will generally correlate to its cost. While you may not directly care about a blimp’s performance characteristics, if you care about cost (which you do if you opted for a cheap solution), a lower performance blimp will require more helium and will therefore become more expensive in the long run.
Blimps outperform alternative aircraft types in only a small set of areas. In particular, blimps can easily be optimized for lift capacity and endurance, but they will forever be constrained by slow speed. In the context of video surveillance then, the pros are optimal and the cons are inconsequential. Airship capabilities can most easily be understood by considering the iconic Goodyear Blimp: they advertise, and they’re notorious for broadcasting aerial video for sporting events.
In order to understand the cost of a high quality blimp, the common expression “you get what you pay for” should be considered and understood before jumping to the lowest cost provider. At a cursory glance, all RC blimps across multiple producers appear more or less the same while costs vary significantly by company. In truth, the underlying materials used to create a blimp predominantly influence the overall price passed on to the consumer, and therefore it is worth understanding those different materials and their trade-offs in order to make an educated decision about a non-trivial purchase.
It’s not uncommon for a client to request the feasibility of building a catamaran blimp modeled after a pontoon boat. The concept is depicted in artist renditions that can easily be Googled for, and we occassionally see the idea pop up as part of a business plan for a startup. It would seem logical that this sort of design would result in a more stable aircraft in the same way that catamarans act as stable water boats.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Blade Runner: It’s like that. If you don’t know what I’m talking about: Blade Runner depicts a dystopian future in what has become a classic Sci-Fi film. Among the thought provoking depictions of technological capability in the future, an omnipresent blimp lazily drifts through the city’s skyline, all the while looping through advertisements displayed on a large TV screen that’s abundantly visible. We can build you a blimp like that.
Among our recent projects, we’re pleased to highlight the introduction of solar powered blimps. Armchair quarterbacks that commentate on airship design will inevitably bring up the concept of a large dirigible covered in solar panels, a seemingly natural fit for an airframe with such a large surface area. Of course, as good as this idea may sound, very few, if any, have actually productionized the concept into an actual working prototype.
Airframe types serve distinct purposes for different applications. Airships have become a rare subset of aircraft that are rarely seen or even conceptualized. For commercial applications, the speed and cheap cost of fuel have made fixed wing aircraft the canonical choice for passenger and cargo flight. The agility, nimbleness, and hovering capabilities of a helicopter have made it the tool of choice for a number of applications ranging from power line inspections to medical evacuations.