I'd like to float this idea out there to get some feedback. I currently have 3 planes and one heli, but these don't seem to be right for the kind of UAV platform I'm looking for. A hybrid airship seems like it could provide superior flight duration and very low speeds while still being able to weather the outdoors and light breezes (<5 knots)
I'm thinking of multiple envelopes (4-6) joined to the envelope opposite it via tubing (for balance in the event of a leak) with three motors; two which control roll, yaw, and extra lift for vertical takeoff (located just forward of the CG) while the other, much smaller motor, controls pitch and provides some VTOL assistance at the rear of the vehicle.
The exact scale and weight (probably about 1.5 kg, all told, for autopilot, video and tx, rc rx, motors, battery, and empty envelope weight [assuming 30 cu. ft of volume, the general design would require about 360 sq ft of material, triple layered and seamed]) still need to be worked out. Just wondering if anyone has done something similar before.