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 Heitham El-Hussieny on December 12, 2010 at 1:48pm

Chris, I need to ask about the max. payload allowed for the 52" mylar envelope. as I will build my own control unit on it.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 12, 2010 at 1:56pm

about 140 grams

Comment by Adam Jenkins on December 14, 2010 at 10:04am

I noticed that the blimp tab was pulled off the homepage. Is there a reason for this? 

Comment by Toby Stein on December 14, 2010 at 10:37am

check out Pink floyd's version of blimp duino.. this thing hovered just above my head inside the Staples Center L.A. for Roger Waters "The Wall"...I seen it and thought to myself, Pigduino! :)


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 14, 2010 at 10:40am
Adam, we've discontinued the current Blimpduino hardware and we didn't want to confuse people looking for it. We plan to release a new version of Blimpduino with improved SLAM ability next year.
Comment by Adam Jenkins on December 14, 2010 at 11:53am

Awesome, I'll be waiting! 

Comment by Gonçalo Cruz on December 20, 2010 at 7:30am
Seems promising! Please let us know when you have a date for the launch!
Comment by Adam Jenkins on December 20, 2010 at 8:17am

Anyway to build it that will enable outdoor flight with a gopro hd (90 Grams)?

Comment by Donald Webster on January 12, 2011 at 6:27pm
I just wanted to post saying that after a little over 5 months missing, FaceBlimp was returned! See http://fryfrog.com/2011/01/12/faceblimp-found for the full story.
Comment by Heitham El-Hussieny on January 14, 2011 at 4:18am

please... is there any news about the new coming Blimp ??

I'm waiting....!

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