Rob and I were chatting about blimps tonight after the meeting, and
Paul mentioned the Blimpduino. I dug out a link - It's $89

Looks like it only comes with most of the necessary parts, but may be
a good start...


on a not exactly related note is the ardupilot for DIY UAVs:

some day, when i have unlimited time and budget, i want to build an
autonomous flying drone for war driving.

an RC enthusiast friend of mine recommended the foam wing design
because they have lots of lift and can carry small payloads.

I looked into the Blimpduino online; it doesn't appear that anyone has
attempted any serious mechanical modifications or upgrades on the
device. There were some people who modded the control to an iPad
(pretty sweet, really:,
but the basic machine is still the same.

My conception of the Blimpduino has it carrying some form of payload.
I did some quick calculations that seem to indicate we could carry
1-1.5 pounds of modification and payload without making the blimp too
big. This might require some rework of the balloon though.

I would like to do some more research into what exactly comes with the
kit and what can be done with the blimp, but I like this project idea.

I've always really liked blimps and balloons, so consider me interested, Rob.

Did some further digging....

DIYdrones sells the Blimpduino kit and all of the extra stuff you need
to buy to get it to actually, you know, work. Here is a short summary:

Item Cost
Blimpduino Kit $89.00
FTDI Cable $19.90
7.4V LiPo Battery $9.90
LiPo Charger $8.90
2.4GHz RC Controller $29.90 (optional)
Total $157.60
w/out RC $127.70

So $130-$160 total cost for the basic kit. Might any of these items be
lying around the Hive? An FTDI cable for instance?

Here's the link:

I believe we have an FTDI cable at the hackerspace, but I am not sure if it belongs to someone or if it is in use in another project.

I checked sparkfun for some of the stuff and found a USB → FTDI board for $15, and the cable for $18.

The batteries are sold out on sparkfun, but they were selling for $6. I am not sure when // if they will be restocked, could send them an email.

  • Rhino Batteries - $6

The charger was about the same price that I could find on sparkfun. Sparkfun does not sell the remote controller.

Total: $15 + $6 = $21, saving us ~$9, shipping is $5, so we would save $4 going with this option, not sure if that makes it worth it.

Hobby King
Hobby king does not sell any FTDI cables (that I could find) however they were the cheapest w/ the batteries and the controller.

  • Rhino Batteries - $5
  • 2.4 Ghz 4 channel TxRx system - $23
    Total: ~$28 for batteries // controller not counting shipping, saves us ~$11, however shipping is $20.94 bringing the total to $48, unless we can find a lot of other stuff to order (they sell servos and such) this is not the best deal…

TL;DR - Sparkfun will save us $4, Hobby King shipping makes them too expensive, after taking shipping into consideration the prices they offer are not too bad.

I'd like to get the Blimpduino up and running as my next main project.
I'd be willing the front the cost to get moving on it and will
probably place an order in the next few days.

Dave, could you set up a Pledgie for the Blimpduino project? It would
be nice to recoup some of the cost if the blimp will belong to the




Rob, would you be interested in writing a post about this project on
the blog? I can grant you posting access on the Wordpress install on

Also, there is an FTDI cable that came with the MakerBot that you
could borrow sometimes, but it needs to stay with the MakerBot.
Another technique that might work is using a spare Arduino with no
Atmel chip installed on it. I used this method to program the
Rainbowduino. You basically use the onboard USB->serial built onto
the standard Arduino board.


I've got a similar FTDI cable / board as well you are welcome to use.

Some updates on the Blimpduino:

1) DIY Drones, the site that conveniently allowed you to buy all of
the necessary Blimpduino equipment, is out of stock on the kits. The
kit can still be purchased from Maker Shed, with an annoying ~$17
shipping fee. However, the other equipment will have to be purchased
separately. This is a minor issue, as Paul has helpfully provided some
alternative links above. Long story short, I will be placing a Hobby
King order in the very near future. If you would like to get anything
from them and split the shipping cost, let me know and we can combine

2) Dave, I will very willingly write several blog posts about the
Blimpduino. I actually have a specific idea in mind that merges the
Blimpduino, the blog, and the soon to be resurgent Propagandists
department. I can talk to you about it next Tuesday.

3) Jason, what's the tentative schedule on the Space Balloon? Or,
let's talk about helium at some point.

I am tentatively thinking about a launch in the 1st or 2nd weekend in August...

Rmelly: I would be willing to add some items to a hobby king order. They sell cheap LiPo batteries, chargers, hobby servo’s, and a lot more. They have great prices, however for an individual order shipping kills it.

I will set myself a reminder to set up a google spreadsheet & ordering information. I am pretty sure I will order a couple servo’s and maybe some other things.

The Blimpduino has arrived! Although it is currently in pieces. Since
it involves circuit boards and soldering, I will bring it in on
Tuesday for assembly.

Nifty! I can place the hobby king order this afternoon for the battery, charger, and transmitter + any other items that get added to the google spreadsheet. I will be placing the order at 1:00 pm this afternoon, so make sure you add anything you wish to purchase to the spreadsheet by then.