Frustrated by difficulties in achieving adequate stability with my coaxial and quad flyers, and inspired by the efforts of Chris and Jordi with their BlimpBot project, I commenced yet another attempt to defeat gravity with a robotic entity.
This new project employs a relatively inexpensive 66-inch helium blimp from RC Guys, modified for direct motor control using the H-bridge built into the radio board portion of the SRV-1 Blackfin board set. The build was pretty simple - the only real challenge was in mounting the vectoring servo in the gondola. I would guess that I have spent 2-3 hours total on the build.
I haven't yet mounted my other sensors, but wlll be adding two Maxbotics EZ0 ultrasonic ranging modules (forward and down views) and an HMC6352 compass. First, I need to work out flight controls and invert the video feed, so all testing thus far has been with the blimp tethered.
Here's the first captured (inverted) video from the tethered blimp - it's not very exciting to watch, but I am using the motors to rotate the blimp. Untethered flight should follow in the next 1-2 days.