BlimpDuino is a very low cost open source autonomous blimp. It consists of an Arduino-based blimp controller board with on-board infrared and ultrasonic sensors and an interface for an optional RC mode, a simple gondola with two vectoring (tilting) differential thrusters, and ground-based infrared beacon.

It is available as a commercial kit from the Maker Shed or the DIY Drones store for $89.


[UPDATE: The current Blimpduino kit has been discontinued. Stay tuned for a new design in 2012]

  • What else you'll need
  • Instructions for making the kit are here.
  • Instructions for loading the code are here
  • Correct LED/servo/motor behavior modes are here
  • Instructions for using Blimpduino are here
  • The parts list is here
  • The discussion forum for teams using Blimpduino in the FIRST Robotics aerial robotics demonstration is here
  • If you want to build your own board from scratch, the necessary files and component lists are here
  • If you want to print out a cool DIY Drones sticker like the blimp above has, here's a pdf.

 



The Blimpduino board is the core of the kit. Features:

* 17 grams, with ultrasonic and IR sensors.
* Controls two motors and one vectoring servo.
* Built-in RC compatibility (can read two RC channels--throttle and steering)
* Designed for a 7.4v LiPo battery; has an automatic power cut-off at low voltage to protect the battery.

Here's the board with the ultrasonic sensor removed, so you can see the Atmega168 processor underneath it:


Here is a video of BlimpDuino in flight, using a breadboard version of the controller board:


At the moment, we're using Pololu IR beacons as the ground beacon, but we'll eventually release our own, open source, versions of them, too.

Here's the board on the gondola with vectoring thrusters and the optional RC receiver:


The commercial kit consists of the following:

--BlimpDuino board, with all SMD parts already soldered on
--Other through-hole components, to be soldered by user (easy)
--A very simple laser-cut plastic platform for the board, battery, optional RC receiver, and motor components
--A servo, gears and motor shaft for the vectoring (thrust tilting) function
--Two motors and props
--One IR ground beacon
--52" mylar envelope


The following is a chronological list of posts describing the development of the project. This is mostly for those who want to follow along and learn about Arduino-based robotics. If you're interested in autonomous blimp development and want to know more about BlimpDuino features, they will give you some insight into the evolution of this project.


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Comment by Amit Saxena on July 3, 2012 at 7:05pm

Thanks for the quick reply Chris. That makes me feel much better. So at this time the only way to get this baby flying  would be to build it myself yes ? Any plans on offering a blimpduino kit  in the near future?


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 3, 2012 at 7:43pm

Amit, yes, we plan to release a new Blimpduino towards the end of the year. 


Developer
Comment by Kabir on September 24, 2012 at 8:49am

Is this project officially dead/legacy?


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 24, 2012 at 9:36am

Blimpduino is no more. But we still love blimps and are working on a really advanced 32-bit SLAM design, which might be in beta by the end of the year. No promises--it's hard--but definitely still on the roadmap. 


Developer
Comment by Kabir on September 24, 2012 at 10:11am
Thanks Chris,

I'd really like to help out and I have this really good design in mind, but to get a blimp envelope in India is akin to impossible. If I somehow managed to get one, I'd help out. Perhaps someone here can help me.

Kabir
Comment by Andreas B. on November 3, 2012 at 5:48am

After blimpduino died, you can have a look at the http://www.silent-runner.net/ project. It´s not yet autonomous, but pretty fast and it also features a flexible arduino for advanced controlling. We try to start from the very beginning and also included some tutorial how to build your envelope. It is still work in progress, but probably the most comprehensive RC Airship guide.

Comment by ümit tunç on April 8, 2014 at 3:33pm

Dear Chris Anderson.can you give me information about blimp . what is the material of above blimp . I mean that  what it made from and how it constructed . thank you .  

Comment by Carson on December 9, 2014 at 4:15am

Gah, I knew I should have bought one before they were discontinued. SUCH a cool idea. Alright, time to make my own. Also, Pixhawk is a thing of beauty. Sooo easy to work with.

Comment by Andreas B. on April 7, 2015 at 6:00am

We´ve just started the silent_runner DIY Kit for crowdfunding, have a look here: https://www.startnext.com/silent-runner

It´s pretty different from the BlimpDuino but a good and robust airship platform to start with.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 7, 2015 at 9:18am

Any plans to make it autonomous?

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