Optimizing Custom Built Blimps

October 13, 2017

Piloting an RC Blimp

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. As a responsible consumer, this becomes particularly important to highlight because whoever you do end up buying a blimp from should be asking you these questions.

Example Blimp Use Case

It is not uncommon to receive an inquiry from a potential client with a request to build a particular blimp with specifically enumerated requirements. Obviously, our company will meet the demands of the client as long as the requests fall in the realm of possibility, but more often than not, the surrounding context for the application matters more than the individually listed requirements. Blimps are built to solve a particular problem and generally not to conform to arbitrary features.

For example, a client recently approached us that wanted to purchase a sizeable blimp. We would have been glad to receive payment to build the said airship, but building an expensive aircraft that doesn’t necessarily solve the end client’s problem isn’t beneficial for anyone, including our own long-term business prospects. It was actually the case that the said client was operating over the ocean, and so the assumptions and constraints of the problem completely change in that context. Maneuverability wasn’t necessarily a concern because of the large operating space, wind was less of a concern because significantly less turbulence exists in that environment, and vertical take off and landing, or a thrust vector from the motors, was also not relevant. This allowed us to free up the client’s budget and instead divert some of those funds to higher quality on-board devices.

Modifying client requests after understanding the context constitutes a typical scenario albeit not as pronounced as the example described.

What Can We Optimize For?

  • Altitude
  • Wind Speed (sustained or peak)
  • Blimp Speed
  • Endurance
  • Payload
  • Indoor / Outdoor
  • Distance
  • Aesthetics
  • Maneuverability
  • Cost

It’s important to distinguish that like any engineering effort, trade-offs exist with every design decision. While we can optimize for any of the above features, we certainly can’t optimize all or even most of them for any one design.

What Can We Build?

At EBlimp, we specialize in aircraft design which incorporates buoyant (ligher than air) forces as a component of flight. But in reality, we can build almost anything at a small scale with the appropriate budget. Our work with blimps requires expertise in materials, manufacturing, aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, radio communication, electrical engineering, and in some cases, software development. These skillsets translate well to conventional fixed wing drones as well as multi-rotor drones that abide by the same physics of flight, but we’ve also many times taken on projects that have nothing to do with flight (i.e. distributed radio controlled prize dropping mechanisms).

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