Hi, I've been lurking long enough and want to build myself one of these blimps. First step is buying the envelope and gondola. I saw that earlier versions used the Plantraco but the newer version uses the Tri-Turbo model off the shark.

The shark seems to be sold out at the linked place, I've googled around a bit and mostly found envelopes for the Tri-Turbo, but no gondolas or complete setups. Has anyone found them anywhere? Should I just get a Plantraco, why was it not used in the recent version?

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Hi Howard,

I'm interested. What do you aks for one kit? I can't see a "see message", so I can't mail you.
Peter Klemperer already snagged both of my Tri-Turbofan kits. Maybe Chris can suggest another source.
I don't recommend the Plantraco Tri-Turbofan, and not just because it's discontinued and hard to find. It also has the vertical thruster in the middle of the gondola, which makes it hard to find room for the board and IR sensors.

The best candidate today is the Mach III at RCtoys.com. It's canopy is narrower than our Shark, so you have to double-stick tape it to the outside, which is a bit graceless, but it works.

When we move to our surface mount board, it will be thin and rectangular and will fit inside all RC blimps, including the Mach III.
Whoops - I meant rcguys.com, not rctoys.com. I use their 66" blimp, but they also have a 48" version that costs $60.
the hoverblimp envelope is not large enough to lift our electronics. You need at least 52"
My thought was just about the gondola. at least for the eye it looks robust.
Anyone know a good way to get helium? I see target sell tanks online for 50 bucks, has anyone tried other approaches? I'm going to see what sorts of prices I get at the welding shops.

Also, how often do the envelopes need topping off or helium replacement?
You can rent a tank from a welding supplier such as Airgas or Praxair, though you'll probably have to buy a balloon filler valve from them. From Airgas, I got a 60 cu ft tank (2 cu meters), and paid a $130 deposit for permanent rental plus another $40 for the filler valve. Filling the tank costs about $40, and the process is just to swap the empty tank for a new full tank. This may seem expensive, but the Target tanks only hold 15 cu ft and those tanks can't be recycled, so the welding tank is ecologically friendlier.

My blimp envelopes seem to lose approx 5% per day - with my 66" blimp which holds 19 cu ft, that's approx 1 cu ft per day.

One other note - with the welding supplier, I can upgrade to a larger tank by just paying the cost differential.
I agree, getting helium from a gas supplier is going to be cheaper in the long run. You have no idea how fast those small tanks run out of helium.
Thanks for the info guys. I had a summer job one time pushing 50 gallon dewers of liquid helium around a physics lab. Never had to buy it for home though.
Heh, I love dewars. I used to take peoples coffee mugs and freeze them while they were gone from their desks. Good times! Now I have access to a vertical tank of LN the size of a semi trailer...

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