Video of the BlimpDuino with vectoring thrusters

Switching BlimpDuino from modded toy blimps to a custom vectoring thruster platform was the best move we've made so far. Not only does it save a lot of money and fuss, but the vectoring thrusters give us much better control, including total command over the vertical dimension, which had plagued us before when we were using static thrusters. Right now we're testing it in RC mode to understand the flight dynamics better, but the same processor board can fly autonomously.

Here's a video of it in flight, showing both turning (with differential thrusters) and altitude control (with vectoring);

You might notice that it looks like I've got a breadboard with a tangle of wires controlling the blimp. That's because I do.
I'm having trouble debugging the latest BlimpDuino board (the one with built-in RC mode), so I've replicated it on a small breadboard (using every single available row!). It's using this code.

Here's what it looks like up close (and yes, those are Lego gears and shafts. Why use anything else?) :

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Tags: blimpduino

Comment by Jack Crossfire on July 20, 2008 at 7:00pm
Ning has the best video quality of all the video dot coms.
Comment by Howard Gordon on July 21, 2008 at 7:16am
Looks good. Some designs with vectored thrusters also use a tail thruster mounted in a rear fin, but that additional leverage is only needed if you have to deal with significant air currents (e.g. outdoor operation). Another variation is to use separate servos for left and right, but I haven't seen a lot of advantage in that approach.

What does your setup now weigh (exclusive of the blimp envelope ?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 21, 2008 at 9:02am
It's right at 100 grams, including a 7.4v 300mah LiPo. That's also including a breadboard(!), so we'll save a few grams when we return to our pcb. I think 100 grams is a good target for this envelope, giving you a comfortable margin for leakage and temperature variation.

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