Damage report

It took a while to write this report, obviously no one is too happy to share failures, so let’s make it short.

We’ve spent whole weekend putting things together and ended up having all gimbals and EDFs wired, working and tested. As you can see from following images it’s been a very rainy day on Sunday.

Robin was very kind and helped us with documenting everything including some cool videos.

Initial gimbal test – no power
Gimbal test – full power
gimball test with servos

I also took few pictures, mainly about all the wiring.

Then we ended up running short of time as it kept raining and I really wanted to do the “taxiing” test, so we removed most of the electronics, wrapped up gimbals, vectors and EDFs and took it to the street to see how it “just goes” to the end of the street and back.

A moment later structure collapsed.

All CF-parts survived nicely, but some more support will be needed, including parts re-printing. See you soon! 🙂

Submission to Australian Aviation Green Paper – towards 2050

Through some channels where I am involved I noticed that Australian government is seeking feedback on their Aviation Green Paper including:

  • airlines, airports and passengers – competition, consumer protections and disability
  • access settings
  • regional and remote aviation services
  • maximising aviation’s contribution to net zero
  • airport development planning process and consultation mechanisms
  • general aviation
  • fit-for-purpose agencies and regulations
  • emerging aviation technologies
  • future industry workforce
  • international aviation

Well, as you may see, they don’t mention any kind of airships or alternative to current aviation standard to be even considered. So I decided to send out following submission:

Submission to the Aviation Green Paper 

From: Jan Bilek, CTO, EFTLAB and Founder of BBBlimp 

Date: November 14th, 2023 

Subject: Submission in Response to the Aviation Green Paper 


This submission is presented by Jan Bilek, CTO of EFTLAB and founder of the BBBlimp project, in response to the Australian Government’s call for feedback on the Aviation Green Paper. The BBBlimp project, detailed on our website (https://www.bbblimp.com/), represents a groundbreaking initiative in sustainable aviation, focusing on the development of hydrogen-powered autonomous airships. 

This submission aims to underscore the synergies between the BBBlimp project and the objectives of the Aviation Green Paper, particularly in advancing aviation to be safer, more connected, and environmentally sustainable. Additionally, it seeks to advocate for hydrogen-powered autonomous airships and suggests amendments to the Aviation Green Paper that would pave the way for similar innovative projects. 

Alignment with Aviation Green Paper Goals 

1. Environmental Sustainability: 

  • Hydrogen-powered airships align with the Green Paper’s emphasis on reducing environmental impact in aviation. Airships produce zero emissions, significantly contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the aviation sector. 
  • The use of renewable hydrogen as a fuel source is in line with Australia’s focus on developing a hydrogen-based economy, presenting an opportunity for sustainable aviation. 

2. Innovation and Technological Advancements: 

  • The modern airship projects incorporate advanced technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, machine learning, and modern materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber. This aligns with the Green Paper’s focus on promoting innovation in aviation. 
  • Our use of IoT technologies enhances passenger safety and comfort, demonstrating a commitment to leveraging technology for improved aviation experiences. 

3. Accessibility and Inclusivity: 

  • Airships offer a unique travel experience, potentially more accessible to individuals with disabilities due to the spacious and customizable nature of airship cabins. 
  • The project’s focus on quieter travel (below 69 decibels operational noise) addresses the need for reduced noise pollution, benefiting communities near flight paths. 

4. Economic and Social Benefits: 

  • The development of airship technology opens new economic opportunities in tourism, surveillance, and transportation, aligning with the Green Paper’s goal of a more connected aviation sector. 
  • Airship projects bring potential to access remote and regional areas can enhance connectivity and accessibility, especially in parts of Australia that are currently underserved by traditional aviation. 


In light of the above, we recommend the following considerations for the Aviation White Paper: 

  1. Support for Sustainable Aviation Technologies: Encourage and facilitate the development of sustainable aviation technologies like hydrogen-powered airships. 
  1. Innovation Funding and Partnerships: Establish funding mechanisms and partnerships also to support experimental innovative aviation projects, particularly those focusing on environmental sustainability. 
  1. Regulatory Framework for New Aviation Technologies: Develop a regulatory framework that accommodates and promotes new aviation technologies, ensuring safety and accessibility. 
  1. Promotion of Hydrogen Infrastructure: Support the development of hydrogen production and refueling infrastructure to facilitate the growth of hydrogen-powered aviation. 


The Airship projects embodies a significant step towards a more sustainable, innovative, and inclusive aviation sector, while embracing the latest trends in technology. We are confident that our project closely aligns with the objectives of the Aviation Green Paper and can make a meaningful contribution to the future of Australian aviation. 

We anticipate the opportunity to collaborate and contribute to the development of the Aviation White Paper and are hopeful that this contribution will open an opportunity for hydrogen-powered airship projects to be considered as a part of Australia’s aviation future. 

Contact Information

Submission submitted!

While posting it, I found list of previous submissions. It is an interesting reading.

Safer Li-Ion Battery Storage

In the pursuit of constructing a sustainable Hydrogen autonomous airship, one of our significant milestones has been the development of high-capacity batteries. However, like any potent source of energy, our batteries composed of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells come with their share of risks. Recent incidents in Simon’s office (Simon has no video, but whole their manufacturing plant here in Queensland burned out) highlighted the fire hazards associated with improper Li-ion battery storage, made me quite worry!

Current fire-proofing by letting batteries to rest on an Aluminum sheet standing at ceramic workbench. 😀

Why are those Li-ion batteries such a trouble? Apparently their inherent volatility stems from their chemistry. Lithium, being highly reactive, can cause fires if a battery is damaged or improperly stored. A short circuit within the battery or an external short can cause an internal temperature rise. When the internal temperature reaches a critical point, a thermal runaway reaction occurs, leading to a fire or explosion.

Richard sent me following Youtube video which demonstrates their volatility in a quite dramatic way.

Witnessing the potential dangers associated with Li-Ion batteries through rigorous testing and unfortunate real-world incidents, we took steps to mitigate the risks associated with our battery storage.

The first action was to get some fireproof storage. Looking around for some suitable and affordable battery bag, I picked The Colcase Fireproof Explosionproof Lipo Safe Bag from Amazon.

Its fire-retardant fabric minimizes the risks associated with accidental fire outbreaks, containing any potential fire within the bag, potentially averting a domino effect I don’t want to even thing about…

Anyway, bag arrived on time as and first fitting test demonstrated that it was a good pick.

Beyond just that fire-proofing measure, I noticed that there is some work needed on batteries. Cut the cables not to look this long and re-done their bottom so batteries can be mounted safely on a gondola platform. Took few pictures through the process as well.

Finally mounted batteries on a designated platform and prepare them for a storage.

All ready to handover to Chris to run those through a new capacity test to see how that changed through the year.

From Space to Skies: A Creative Reimagining

I can’t get enough of the ChatGPT and it’s latest DALL-E 3, so I came with an idea asking it to produce for me set of Star Trek and Star Wars posters with relevant characters, where we would swap starships in their stories with airships.

Not just it did very well, it also came with relevant lead-in and texts to fill in. So get seated and I am handing over to ChatGPT & DALL-E 3, Enjoy!

The vastness of space has always been a canvas for our wildest imaginations, with epic tales of interstellar battles and exploration. But what if we took a step back and brought those tales closer to home, right into our skies? In this post, we embark on a creative journey, reimagining iconic scenes from popular space operas with a twist: replacing starships with majestic airships and setting the stage amidst breathtaking cloudscapes.

1. The Airship Command:
Captain Picard, a figure of authority and wisdom, stands confidently on the bridge of a state-of-the-art airship. Gone is the cold void of space, replaced by the endless blue of the skies.

2. Sky Wars – A New Saga:
The battle for the skies commences! In this epic saga, traditional space-opera characters embark on a new adventure amidst dramatic sunsets and towering cumulus clouds. Airships replace starfighters, bringing battles closer to our world.

3. Sky Wars – Saga Continues:
The battle for the skies goes on! Majestic airships and blimps set against a backdrop of vast skies continue their adventure amidst polar regions.

4. Sky Trek – Exploration of the Unknown:
Setting sail into the vast skies, iconic figures gaze outwards, signaling tales of discovery, diplomacy, and challenges in uncharted territories. Their mission? To seek out new horizons and bring unity to the skies.

5. Sky Trek – New Envelopes:

Beyond the familiar horizons, there are skies uncharted and realms untouched. In this grand adventure, iconic figures journey aboard majestic airships, navigating through breathtaking cloudscapes. Their quest continues, discovering new worlds within our very skies, each holding mysteries and wonders waiting to be unveiled.

6. Sky-Battle Showdown:
The skies turn into an arena of chaos and heroism as airships engage in fierce combat. Bright beams crisscross the horizon, and damaged ships descend in flames. Every pilot and commander must make their stand in this climactic battle.

While space remains an enigma, the skies above us offer limitless possibilities for tales of heroism, exploration, and conflict. This creative exercise serves as a testament to the power of imagination and the endless ways we can reinterpret and reinvent our favorite stories.

Love it! 🙂 What do you think?

Exploring the Envelope Model

In preparations of our next stage I thought it would be good to have a scaled down envelope model we can send over to the Windreiter team to make sure that whole that concept is well understood.

Initial sketch of the envelope model showcasing the modular design and providing us with ~26kg buoyancy:

Initial sketch of the envelope model

When visualized in OpenSCAD, that front part (EDF intake) looks like this:

EDF intake

And then the overall view of a one envelope with a part of inner structure is planned like below:

Started with some scratches on a cardboard paper and looking for a material and ended up picking the LLDPE plastic bin-bags as a first go. Tried multiple glues for gluing it through past months, but none of those did well. So when looking for our options I ended up finding a website Welding Plastic Bags which provides very simple way to solve this. Long story short it goes like this:

1/ You need a baking paper and a soldering iron with a flat tip and temperature control.

2: Stack Materials – The welding process is commenced by preparing the Mylar sheets, ensuring they were free of dust and oils. Then make a material sandwich as baking paper, plastic sheet A, plastic sheet B, baking paper.

Nonsense image of how that quote from above is represented by DALL-E 3 😀

3: Welding the Seam – Use pressure on the soldering iron and move it along the seam to melt the sheets. Tip of the iron needs to be so that the whole surface of the tip makes contact with the paper. Heat gun will fuse plastic sheets together, forming a strong bond. This step was critical in ensuring the envelope’s durability and airtightness.

DALL-E actually did pretty well here … with bit of imagination 😀

Testing it on couple tiny objects we managed to manufacture following experimental balloon:

Seeing that doing reasonably ok, still that material seemed to be too thin and we’ve got many accidents burning through it. Seb then came with an idea to get back to a leftover of the Mylar (wide silver reflective film roll with tough black backing), which we tested instantly and that really started look pretty good! So we decided to go with that one.

Then it took pretty much couple weekends of cutting and welding.

But the result is worth it!

The last part was to do some weighing.

As you can see, scales say that it comes up with 235g. I think we used roughly about 1m2 of material so with our planned envelope of 70m2 it would take 16+ kgs. That’s unfortunately too much for our leftover weigh budget of ~12kg.

As always, we welcome insights or experiences from others working on similar projects. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

ChatGPT v4 and DALL-E v3

In a past I tried several times to explain our project to Dall-E 2 (an AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language) to get some nice images and ideas, but it always failed. Now ChatGPT4 came with an integration of DALL-E 3 so I thought giving it a new go.

Well, long story I’ve been hoping for more, still putting it here as it was an overall interesting experience. Below is my conversation with ChatGPT v4 having the DALL-E 3 plugin enabled.

JB: Hi, I have this airship concept idea which is difficult to visualise as it is never-seen before type of idea. It is not a single hull airship, but it actually has two cigar-shaped envelopes adjacent to each other – kind of like a catamaran. Each envelope has a central duct with an front intake with a motor and propeller-kind-of-turbine going through the whole envelope into a thrust vectoring. This system serves also as a main keel and is present in both envelopes. There are two main traverse beams which connect both hulls/envelopes. Gondola is hangs in a middle of those beams and is partly hidden inside both envelopes to improve air-flow. Each envelope/hull is 50m long, having radius of 15m. Would you attempt to draft it for me, please?

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created 4 Images

Here are the visual drafts of your airship concept:

  1. A photographic representation.
  2. An illustrative depiction.
  3. A rendered visualization.
  4. A vector-based design.

Please review them and let me know if they align with your vision or if there are any modifications needed.

JB: That’s a good try! Would you be able to adjust images above with following – envelopes are located next to each other horizontally – there are no rudders or elevators as vectoring thrusters are in use there for the airship steering – internal duct is just a huge tube and there are no visible gadgets next to it as all technology is in the gondola – airship to have a big duct intake in the bow of the envelope and vectoring thruster at its stern.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created 4 images

Here are the adjusted visual drafts of your airship concept:

  1. A photographic representation with the specified adjustments.
  2. An illustrative depiction with the envelopes placed horizontally.
  3. A rendered visualization incorporating the changes.
  4. A vector-based design highlighting the described features.

Kindly review them and inform me of any further refinements or feedback.

JB: Hmmm, I am sorry, that doesn’t look good. I was worried that it will be difficult to explain.

ChatGPT: I apologize for not meeting your expectations. Such intricate and unique designs can indeed be challenging to visualize accurately based solely on textual descriptions. If you have any reference images or sketches, they might assist in refining the visualization. Alternatively, if there are other ways I can assist or if you’d like to provide further details, please let me know.

JB: Yes, I have a 3D model which demonstrates what I am looking for. How do I present it to you? I can’t see any upload option.

ChatGPT: I apologize for the inconvenience, but currently, there’s no direct capability to upload and process 3D models within this platform. However, if you can provide screenshots or 2D representations of your 3D model, I can work with those. Another approach is to describe the model in as much detail as possible, perhaps focusing on areas that were not captured accurately in the previous attempts. This can help in refining the visualizations.

JB: I have a screenshot in a PNG format.

ChatGPT: I understand. Unfortunately, I don’t have the capability to directly view or process uploaded images. However, if you can describe the key features and differences from the provided visualizations based on your screenshot, I’ll do my best to adjust and produce a closer representation of your concept.

JB: Ok, would it help to work with a single image only? If so, can we start with the image 3 which seems to be closest to what I am looking for?

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the refined visualization based on your feedback, focusing on the third design:

Kindly review this adjusted render and let me know if it’s closer to your vision or if further modifications are needed.

JB: Thanks. Now. Would you please: – remove all current text and labels from that image above – hid all internals – just to have those two envelopes plain – remove gondolas form both hulls.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the modified visualization of the airship with the requested changes:

Please review it and let me know if it meets your requirements or if any further adjustments are needed.

JB: It is better. Now if you can make both airship hulls aligned right next to each other. (It looks like that rear one is bit behind the front one, but I want them to be right next to each other.)

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the further refined visualization with both airship envelopes aligned directly next to each other:

Please assess the image and inform me of any additional changes or if it aligns with your concept.

JB: Well, it looks like we have only a single hull there now. This leads nowhere. Let’s start again from a scratch. Maybe calling this airship is wrong. Please forget everything about airships and let’s try working with more abstract form.

ChatGPT: Understood. Let’s approach this from a fresh perspective. Please provide a description of the abstract form you have in mind, and I’ll do my best to visualize it based on that.

JB: Thanks. Let’s imagine two same cigar-shaped ellipsoids located next to each other in an horizontal manner. Let’s give them arbitrary length of 50 meters and maximum diameter 15 meters.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the visualization of two identical cigar-shaped ellipsoids positioned horizontally next to each other based on your description.

Please review this abstract representation and let me know how it aligns with your vision or if further refinements are needed.

JB: That’s actually pretty good! Can you try to add bit of slenderness to their front part (enforce that longitudinal elliptic shape a bit)? Please provide me with 4 options now.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created 4 images

Here are the visualizations of the ellipsoids with a more pronounced slender front:

  1. A rendered representation with an emphasized longitudinal elliptic shape.
  2. An illustrative depiction with a distinct slender front.
  3. A vector design emphasizing the cigar-like form.
  4. A photo representation showcasing the elongated front portion.

Please review these options and share your feedback or preferences.

JB: Hmmm, no, that’s not what I am looking for. Let’s get back to that original visualization of two identical cigar-shaped ellipsoids positioned horizontally next to each other. Also let’s keep it simple. Can you redraw that sketch for me?

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the re-drawn visualization of two identical cigar-shaped ellipsoids positioned horizontally next to each other based on the original description.

Please review this representation and let me know if it aligns with your requirements or if there are any other adjustments needed.

JB: Good! Now with this actual picture. Please enforce longitudinal elliptic shape a bit so both shapes look more aerodynamic.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the visualization with a more pronounced longitudinal elliptic shape to give the ellipsoids a more aerodynamic appearance.

Please assess the image and inform me if it aligns with your expectations or if further refinements are necessary.

JB: Well, I suppose I can’t explain it to you. This is heading away from that original idea again. 🙂 Do you want to give it another go, or should we wait for your next version

ChatGPT: I apologize for the inconvenience. I understand the intricacies of translating a specific visual idea into words, and I appreciate your patience.

If you’d like, we can give it another go. Alternatively, if you feel that waiting might be more beneficial, that’s understandable as well. Please let me know how you’d like to proceed.

JB: Ok, give it one last go and we’ll see. Try to draw me two simple ellipsoids with a=50m, b=15, c = 15, aligned horizontally right next to each other.

ChatGPT: DALL·E 3 Created image

Here’s the visualization of two identical simple ellipsoids with the specified dimensions, positioned horizontally right next to each other.

Please review this representation and share your feedback. If it aligns with your requirements, great! If not, please let me know how I can assist further.

JB: 😀 That’s torus, not ellipsoid! All good. Let’s try next time. 🙂 You still did well, I am well aware this is not an easy task to explain.

ChatGPT: I apologize for the oversight and truly appreciate your understanding. It can indeed be challenging to accurately translate specific visual concepts based solely on text. Whenever you’re ready to give it another shot or need assistance with anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for your patience and feedback! Have a great day! 🙂

Wiring – gimbals II

In continuation of the structure wiring as started here, we made some substantial progress over the weekend.

As you can see on pictures below, the rear beam wiring is now nicely done and all cables are wired through the upper connecting tube to the front where batteries and controller sits.

We also tried to do some testing to see it all working so Seb attached his RC controller, while all power lines were connected (6V battery set for servos and 2kW 25V PSU for motors).

While it looks wild, it did the job! Video below demonstrates our first RC controlled gimbal test (10% power only)!

… then it somehow stopped working so we did another one with lower powers, but that wasn’t that nice.

Also did a video showing all gimbols operating.

Wiring – gimbals I

Having the main structure ready, we are progressing to the next stage – the wiring. Honestly, I thought that it will be much easier, but all that task spread into multiple tiny sub-projects and finally took couple weeks just to get us here.

Gimbals rewiring

First – gimbal connectors needed to be moved so they can fit into the main tube. That needed extension of all cables and connectors re-soldering.

All 4 gimbals re-wiring finished.

Front truss cabling

Next stage was to run cables through the front truss tube and down to gondola. How easy it sounds, it ended up being much more complicated than that.

I am not joking – what you are looking at is practically 14 cables run through a single hole:

  • 3 x motor power cables (16AWG – 15A)
  • 2 x gimbal servo power cables (22 AWG – 7A)
  • 2 x gimbal servo signal cables (??)

So seven cables as above – twice for each side -> 14! As you can see it worked out that whole that tube now weighs 764 grams, but that was expected (we have 2kgs of buoyancy reserved for cables only).

Finally some testing with gimbals mounted.

And I took a video as well.

Looks pretty promising, now the second tube + maneuvering thrusters & main EDFs intakes, but for those later ones I plan to lead cables just around tubes, so that should be easy.

The Skies Beckon: Our First Airship’s Inner Structure Takes Shape

Today, I am thrilled to share a momentous milestone in our airship project—an achievement that brings us closer to reaching to the skies. It took more then a year, but our first airship’s inner structure finally takes shape!

Design phase

The Majestic Structure: Our airship, which measures approximately 6.5 meters in length, nearly 5 meters in width (inclusive of mounted gimbals), and 1.5 meters in height (with more height to come once the envelope is inflated), now got through the first actual assembly and looks great. Interesting fact – whole this structure presented weighs just 8kgs (17lbs)!

See the gallery below (special thanks Seb & Julia for serving as models!).

I also prepared a bit of before and after so it doesn’t look like bunch of sticks. Unfortunately aligning a 3D model with a real-world perspective shown to be quite a peculiar task, so please ignore few imperfections.

Finally, we took a video which probably demonstrates the best overall size of that structure.

What’s Next: Well the electrification phase is ahead of us to bring this airship come to life. From gimbals to vectoring thrusters and EDFs, those still need to be carefully wired in.

Following electrification, we’re preparing for a crucial taxiing test. The plan is to evaluate our airship’s performance and check how we’ll be able to transport this creation from site to site.

And then, the pièce de résistance—crafting the envelope. The plan here is to ask the Windreiter guys to have it done for us – that will be another great milestone, seeing it inflated.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Thank you for being a part of our adventure.

Mavlink on Beagle Bone Blue

In continuation to Seb’s initial attempt to connect our BBB with the QGroundControl, he actually achieved some super-cool progress – making it think it calls to a real drone!

But let’s start from the beginning – QGroundControl (QGC) is the Graphical User Interface (GUI) application which provides full flight control and mission planning for any MAVLink enabled drone. Its primary goal is ease of use for professional users and developers. All the code is open-source source, so you can contribute and evolve it as you want. and project website is here.

The idea is to use QGC in combination with the Mavlink and use it for our airship navigation.

As the first Seb used the Robot Control library for BBB to send UDP packets to a Mavlink. That’s been achieved through using the rc_mav_send_hearbeat function. We confirmed those with tcpdump accordingly:

$ sudo tcpdump -i any port 14550 udp

20:02:02.222327 wlp5s0 In  IP beaglebone.modem.14550 > mavic.modem.14550: UDP, length 40
	0x0000:  4500 0044 e42b 4000 4011 d387 c0a8 00e6  E..D.+@.@.......
	0x0010:  c0a8 00bf 38d6 38d6 0030 2edf fd1c 0000  ....8.8..0......
	0x0020:  0001 0121 0000 6d26 8cb0 62f6 c8ef 073d  ...!..m&..b....=
	0x0030:  405b 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  @[..............
	0x0040:  ffff 7078                                ..px
20:02:02.552843 wlp5s0 In  IP beaglebone.modem.14550 > mavic.modem.14550: UDP, length 40
	0x0000:  4500 0044 e435 4000 4011 d37d c0a8 00e6  E..D.5@.@..}....
	0x0010:  c0a8 00bf 38d6 38d6 0030 fba2 fd1c 0000  ....8.8..0......
	0x0020:  0001 0121 0000 6827 8cb0 62f6 c8ef 073d  ...!..h'..b....=
	0x0030:  405b 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  @[..............
	0x0040:  ffff a8b3                                ....
20:02:02.763607 wlp5s0 In  IP beaglebone.modem.14550 > mavic.modem.14550: UDP, length 40
	0x0000:  4500 0044 e45f 4000 4011 d353 c0a8 00e6  E..D._@.@..S....
	0x0010:  c0a8 00bf 38d6 38d6 0030 dfd2 fd1c 0000  ....8.8..0......
	0x0020:  0001 0121 0000 6228 8cb0 62f6 c8ef 073d  ...!..b(..b....=
	0x0030:  405b 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  @[..............
	0x0040:  ffff ca82                                ....
20:02:03.027456 wlp5s0 In  IP beaglebone.modem.14550 > mavic.modem.14550: UDP, length 40
	0x0000:  4500 0044 e493 4000 4011 d31f c0a8 00e6  E..D..@.@.......
	0x0010:  c0a8 00bf 38d6 38d6 0030 20c5 fd1c 0000  ....8.8..0......
	0x0020:  0001 0121 0000 5c29 8cb0 62f6 c8ef 073d  ...!..\)..b....=
	0x0030:  405b 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  @[..............
	0x0040:  ffff 8f8f                                ....
20:02:03.104488 wlp5s0 Out IP mavic.modem.14550 > beaglebone.modem.14550: UDP, length 17
	0x0000:  4500 002d 43d1 4000 4011 73f9 c0a8 00bf  E..-C.@.@.s.....
	0x0010:  c0a8 00e6 38d6 38d6 0019 b0ea fe09 e9ff  ....8.8.........
	0x0020:  be00 0000 0000 0608 c004 0317 eb         .............

In that above Seb actually used existing bindings into the Mavlink library to create a Rust code which he compiled as per previous post and made it to send fake GPS coordinates.

One major problem was that Rust didn’t come with the UDP stream which would inherit from the generic stream and so he needed to reimplement that to see this working. Even more interesting was that this solution was proposed by the ChatGPT.

use std::io::{self, Write};
use std::net::{UdpSocket, SocketAddr};

pub struct UdpStreamWriteWrapper {
    socket: UdpSocket,
    remote_addr: SocketAddr,

impl UdpStreamWriteWrapper {
    pub fn new(local_addr: SocketAddr, remote_addr: SocketAddr) -> io::Result<Self> {
        let socket = UdpSocket::bind(local_addr)?;
        Ok(Self { socket, remote_addr })

impl Write for UdpStreamWriteWrapper {
    fn write(&mut self, buf: &[u8]) -> io::Result<usize> {
        self.socket.send_to(buf, &self.remote_addr).map_err(From::from)

    fn flush(&mut self) -> io::Result<()> {
        // UDP is a datagram protocol, so there's no need to flush.

Result is here – as you can see below in upper left corner, QGC running on Seb’s laptop now thinks that BBB provides some initial data and states “Not Ready”, where it was originally saying “Disconnected”.

There is one more where BBB uses Mavlink protocol to provide some hard-coded GPS coordinates and show them on a map (see the red arrow).

Finally all the code landed in our new blimp_control GitHub repository as per below: https://github.com/bbblimp/blimp_control.

Well done Sebi!

Gondola preps III

In continuation of our previous development as documented here, more and more fiddling was needed. Then, last week, I archived my phone to our long-term storage NAS and ended up with no easy-to-grab pictures left so decided just to do a short post to quickly cover the latest – mostly in points without much context below.

Chris expressed his concerns about ABS as we good material for what we are using it for (clamps) so we used steel garden-hose clamps to make some serious clamp reinforcements.

Having those improved clamps, we finished those traversing beams + there’s been a defect on one of those tubes which needed fixing. They are now ready for a final assembly.

Asked our neighbor (Jane) for few spare tennis-balls, and mounted those on as a padding for suspension legs. Having those completed I took few pictures how that fits straight on our tennis-table (no it wasn’t intentional, that legs span just worked like this by accident).

Final touch came with an initial mounting of the gondola platforms – we picked “Sunlite 8 1.2 x 0.61m Clear Twinwall Polycarbonate Sheet” as it looks nice, is easily available and feels pretty strong.

You can see the front platform already mounted below with BBBlue & Wifi pig-tail & GPS chip placed there for demonstration.

Three more platforms are still needed – rear one for 6V battery pack + two middle ones for those 25V big-battery packs. However that material (Twinwall Polycarbonate Sheet) is easy to work with, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to get it done in next few days.

Rust on Beagle Bone Blue

Thinking about reviving our blimp controls, Sebi unpacked our BBBlue again and had a bit of fun with it convincing it to interact with the Librobotcontrol over Rust.

The Rust code to work with seemed to be simple – just classical ‘Hello world’ enriched with an unsafe call to the librobotcontrol to blink LED #3 with 2Hz for 5s.

use librobotcontrol_sys as lrc;

fn main() {
    println!("Hello, world!");
    unsafe {
        lrc::rc_led_blink(lrc::RC_LED_USR3, 2.0, 5.0);

Toml file looked like this:

name = "blimp_control"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2021"

librobotcontrol-sys = "0.4.0"

While magic came in the Makefile, which looked like this:

	cross build --target armv7-unknown-linux-musleabihf

	scp "/home/sebula/code/bbblimp/blimp_control/target/armv7-unknown-linux-musleabihf/debug/blimp_control" debian@

As you can see above, Sebi is using “cross build –target armv7-unknown-linux-musleabihf” which allows him to cross-compile ARM code on his i686-64bit and then pushes it with SCP to the BBBlue sitting on a Wifi. This is pretty clever as compilation and code editing on a local laptop is much faster than externally the BBB.

This can really save time, Thank you Sebi!

Gondola preps II

In continuation of our previous development as documented here, clamps were needed. Those are in light-blue (front & back-ones) on following picture.

Design ended up being quite funny kind of a tube-clamp, with some reinforcement on the beam, let’s call it Clamp-A.

A top clamp also needed to be a bit different as there is that front-to-end traversing beam, let’s call it Clamp-B.

Then it took a week to tweak it and print 6x Clamp-A, 2x Clamp-B and start mounting them on.

At some stage of this development the OceanGateTours sub collapsed, what made me thinking about all those thin-walled tubes and how those clamps will hold on … and came with a simple in-fill tube idea to counter those external forces.

That clearly did the job and our vertical tube is holding in there nicely now. Having all clamps printed, we could finish the final assembly and weigh our gondola skelet!

Reading on the above picture is not too good, but it says 1163g.

We should receive more CF tape some time next week and that would allow us to finish those large traversing tubes, then we need clamps to hold our ducts + clamps for gimbals and we’ll be ready to start wiring!

Airships with Midjourney

In a follow up on our original article Airships with Craiyon, Seb’s been having fun with another generative artificial intelligence program – Midjourney.

Midjourney is an example of generative AI that can convert natural language prompts into images. It’s only one of many machine learning-based image generators that have emerged of late. Despite that, it has risen to become one of the biggest names in AI alongside DALL-E and Stable Diffusion.


… and some of his makings worked out pretty cool. See the gallery below.

#Airship in the Grand Canyon

#Airship over Dystopian city

#Airship in Paris

Let us know if you’ll come with some experiments on your own, it will be cool to expand this article as it goes.

Gondola preparations

So today we are trying to prepare the main frame to our gondola. The rough idea is sort of like this.

You are seeing rectangular shape formed by CF tubes and corners from 3D printed ABS, while there are clamps to hold three plates. Front for controllers, middle for batteries, which will also serve as balancing the centre of gravity and the rear one for small batteries pack to feed servos.

While constantly working on a good source of tubes, the corner ended up today’s goal. It looks simple but its model evolved through several weeks. Final OpenScad code is below, describing tube-in-tube design from Serge.

use <ShortCuts.scad>
use <tubes.scad>

module corner_tube(simple) {
rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=90)
translate([50, 0, 0]) {
D() {
  circle(d = 29.5);
  circle(d = 25.5);
if(!simple) {
square([0.8,26.5], center=true);
square([26.5,0.8], center=true);
square([0.8,26.5], center=true);
square([26.5,0.8], center=true);
if (!simple)
for( i = [0 : 2] ){

if (!simple)
rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=90)
translate([50, 0, 0]) {
circle(d = 12);

if (!simple)
rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=90)
translate([50, 0, 0]) {
circle(d = 11.2);

module leg_tube(simple) {
D() {
  union() {
    tube_enforce(70, simple);
rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=92)
  circle(d = 29);

module panel() {
D() {
minkowski() {
D() {
cube([30,30,80], center = true);
  rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=90)
  circle(d = 29);

  //screw hole 1
  minkowski() {

  //screw hole 2
  minkowski() {

  D() {
  minkowski() {
  translate([-36,5,-0.5]) linear_extrude(1) {
    polygon(points=[[-5,-5],[20,-5],[-11,20]], paths=[[0,1,2]]);
  rotate_extrude(convexity = 10, angle=90)
  translate([50, 0, 0]) {
  circle(d = 29.5);

module corner(simple = false) {

tube_enforce(50, simple);

tube_enforce(50, simple);


The idea started quite simple.

Printing seemed to be easy, while taking 15hrs+.

As printing came with few problems (walls collapsing), internal frame needed to be added.

Then went completely crazy, trying to make it lighter with internal super-structure + platform clamp.

Here is the final model which implements the tube-in-tube idea from Serge.

Well, then all printing’s been quite adventurous and took few weeks to tune up.

Then we did a final assembly and it is looking pretty cool!

Added a mock-up platform to show how that will look up when complete.

I am happy with the progress, good to see things moving after a while again!

Smaller heater – part II

Progressing on our heater story – did a longer test which clearly demonstrated that we don’t have enough power. Simply running a heater for 220V on 60V is not giving enough umpf.

So Serge stepped in and proposed coming back to the plan A – 220V. However first things first little bit of additional grinding was needed. I took a cool video of Serge handling that.

Next stage was to refurbish our heater by rewiring it to 220V.

Quick test revealed that all is working happily. Actually we’ve hit 160C in under 5 minutes.

Wrapped whole tube in Kapton to protect it a bit before inserting it in the external tube.

We carried on with doing a test by using a simple wrapping with 50% overlap, followed by heating it up to 140C and letting it cool down.

Tube extraction was easy and we ended up with pretty nice prototype.

While weighing ~80g it is looking perfect, however I am not convinced about its stiffness as as per my estimates two of these tubes needs to be able to carry a whole gondola.

Anyway, weekend’s goal achieved and it’s a promising start to finally start getting some good progress again!

Finally huge thanks to Serge for his never-ending support!

Smaller heater – part I

Having a major success with our BIG tubes, we decided that we’ll prepare tubes for a whole frame. While Serge inclined to use our current technology for the rest, I already had a plan to repeat our production process and get some light and awesome ~25mm ones.

When planning ahead, in February 2023 I reached to Vilem and he checked for us on Aluminum tubes available through his sources. Following options came up:

.. then situation somehow changed and apparently we ended up with these:

The idea here is that we’ll use an inner tube with a heater rod to expand another (external tube), which will be used as a mould for our CF tape, so we have an option to contract it and extract the tube after curing. Vili sourced tubes in a perfect condition.

They are awesome! Thank you Vildo!!!

Then I asked Serge to help us with cutting the external one.

Excellent job Serge, as always. A tiny test shown how cool it is.

Well, that inner tube sit in there too well! Testing this with Serge, he mentioned that once we’ll wrap it with CF, friction will be so high that we won’t be able to pull it out. That would be a not good at all. Checking what’s going on I reached to the Engineering ToolBox – (Resources, Tools and Basic Information for Engineering and Design of Technical Applications) and Serge was right!

The value 1 here is pretty bad (e.g. teflon on teflon is 0.04) – it actually is one of the worst values in that table! Apparently this is because Aluminum surface oxidises very rapidly under the atmospheric conditions, and Al2O3 has quite different properties from elemental Aluminum.

Anyway, there are thoughts how to solve this, but that’s for another day. Let’s move to our new … heater! Serge came with an awesome idea to use a Stove Cooktop Burner Element – straighten it and use it as substitute for our heating coil.

Serge did an excellent job and we ended up with this (first picture next to our Alu tubes):

Running ideas on how to actually use it through Richard, while he raised more then few exclamation marks on connecting this straight into 240V mains.

Crunching this for a while I picked a safe way to use our welder again to power this contraption. Testing it clearly shown that Risa’s worries were well in place.

One last question remained – how to keep our heating rod straight in a middle of our inner tube. Brainstorming it with Serge he suggested some high-temperature silicon. Google then came with JB Weld Muffler Seal, 340g from Super Cheap Auto, which apparently withstand temperatures up to 850F (450C) which we assumed to be enough to do the job.

So we ended up applying this muffler cement in rings on the rod, hoping this will do the job.

Finally we couldn’t resist and connected our welder to see what happens and ended up reaching nice 94C while running it on a lowest settings for about 5 minutes.

We’ve run out of time to wait for cement to cure properly, so a proper test will have to wait for another day. Anyway whole this exercise actually worked out well so I am positive this will do the job and we’ll see some tube prototypes in next few days. Stay tuned!

Envelope Demo – preparations

So we are now trying to build envelope coming with shape around something like this:

As you may see it is quite simple concept of joining two ellipsoids with interlaced cylinder reaching maximum diameter of 2m. So the front part is traditional ellipsoid with w=2.5 (A), followed by a central cylinder w=1 (B), closed by another ellipsoid of w=3 (C). The plan is to buckle in the ellipsoid A so it will all end up being ~6m long.

The idea is to do a 5:1 scaled model and send it to Windreiter guys for review and a quote. To be able to do so, we actually need to draw parts which we can glue together next. Here we’ll be using classical pie/rugby-ball seems method, hoping that it will all work out when inflated.

Having a radius of 1m, maximum circumference comes to 6.28.


Divided by 6 to get height of each part we are getting h=1m. Scaling down 5:1 this is 20cm + 2cm for seem we have the first parameter 22cm.

With the W – part A this is going to be half-ellipse of -> 52cm (scaled 2.5m/5 + 2cm for seems), part B is a simple cylinder of 20cm and part C is -> 62cm (scaled 3m/5 + 2cm for seems).

To get this transformed this onto a paper, I prepared myself a tiny Excell helper (with another help from here). Where X is calculated with =B$2*COS(RADIANS($A5)) and Y =B$1*SIN(RADIANS($A5)).

Ellipse A:


Ellipse B:


Of course we’ll use just a part of those ellipses getting:


Now let’s get practical!

Venturi effect

As per our last post we ended up with some kind of mysterious power gain. Having few ideas we’ve been able to rule out all at the point when Richard clearly stated that it is the Venturi effect!

So what’s the Venturi effect again?

The Venturi effect is the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section (or choke) of a pipe. The Venturi effect is named after its discoverer, the 18th-century Italian physicist Giovanni Battista Venturi.


I think that following picture tells even more.

Credit Wikipedia

As you can see, it pretty much correlates with what we are experiencing. Input velocity is same, but output one is higher. Well, now how to test this. Richard stated that there is no way to gain whatever energy out of nowhere so with higher velocities we should be also seen higher power demand. And the easiest way to do so is to monitor the input Wattage.

Local Jaycar luckily offers their Mains Power Meter with extendable LCD Display which does exactly that for shabby $34.95.

So we grabbed one!

Then we rebuilt our testing setup, plugging our new power meter in front of our 2kW PSU. Running on idle power meter clearly indicated constant consumption ~8W.

Oli and Sam helped with testing where they were checking on highest measured value. I prepared everything to repeat our tests on EDF only, 1m PU tube and our new 6m CF tube. Also received new set of propellers from Chris and I was hoping to duplicate same test on those, but hit some problems there so I don’t have video of guys measuring and following form is just half-filled, waiting for another opportunity.

Measurements above clearly shows that with higher speeds power consumption was clearly growing. Where we were getting very much 20% gain on the wind speed (17.26m/s -> 20.65m/2), our power requirements were also growing – making it 14% higher power input.

I suppose that this concludes it for now, mystery solved a now to back to building our airship again! 🙂

Two Tubes

Of of the main concerns with our new tubes is how they will perform as a duct. Having just our original duct the only way to get any clue was to compare those against each other. How ridiculous it may sound, while different lengths (1m and ~6m) – both tubes still share one essential parameter the inner diameter 60mm.

There is also EDF from our jet-cart project, which can be transferred around and we can use it for comparison together with our old friends – 2kW PSU and high-speed Anemometer.

Test #1

Asking Seb to assist we did a test with original tube first.

As you can see, we removed the vector thruster for now and measured peak at 16.84 m/s.

Test #2

Setting up our new [6m] tube took little bit longer, some cutting and some taping was needed.

Being little bit worried about all that contraption not flying away we did a tiny test run.

All good, now ready to roll.

Well and that is where became quite surprised. As you can see, peak came up to 20.32 m/s! That’s quite a different value to our original measurement of 16.84 m/s. Having same tube diameter, EDF, and power levels – I am more then happy to see 20% power increase, but it also horrifies me that goes completely against our assumptions (expected was 20 – 40% decrease).

I assume that using the Watt-meter might tell us if the higher output observed correlates with higher power consumption, or if we’ve been really somehow able to increase a tube performance. No idea what sort of physics might be behind it, unless tube getting seriously heated by Queensland’s sun.

Craiyon’s vision of “power of the sun heating a carbon fibre tube”

Any idea, anyone?

Tubes mechanics & testing I

Thinking about mechanics of our airship’s keel it is actually one of the most trivial tasks to solve. We’ll be looking to calculate reactions, shear force and bending moment here and then to test it.

Our use-case takes in account our 6-meter-long beam, having two supports in its thirds, where traversing beams will be joined to hold our gondola. Gondola weight is assumed to be ~10kg (100N) and we’ll multiply it by safety factor of 3 getting 300N. Let’s divide this value by four – number of joints – getting 75N per support. To be able to solve this in some easy way, we need to double this value getting nice 150N force in a middle.

So let’s go with bit of theoretical calculations on this first. The easiest way to do this these days is to use e.g. Free Online Beam Calculator, which I like a lot as it is making this task trivial.


Support atXYMx
20 kN0.075 kN0 kN-m
40 kN0.075 kN0 kN-m

Force Extremes

Bending Moment0.075 kN-m0 kN-m
Shear0.075 kN-0.075 kN
Displacement0.037 mm-0.013 mm

Nothing too much to see yet, so let’s have a look at bending moment and sheer forces

The last one is the deflection, which (if we would provide actual tube properties) would finally provide us with a some actual values to test for. Graph below uses Young’s Modulus (E) 200000 MPa, which is clearly too high for our use-case, but as we don’t have any good value here we’ll be using it for demonstration.

Location (m)Total Deflection (mm)Span 
00.037 mmL/53333
20 mm
30.013 mm
40 mm
60.037 mmL/53333

Now to our actual testing – two chairs serve as a support there, supporting our tube in its thirds. Pillows and cloth in the middle serves to distribute forces bit around so those are not “too pointy”. Below you can see a set of weights totaling 15kg provided by Andrew.

Tube #1 (950g)

Long story short all holding! A minor tube bending’s been noticed, but overall whole tube seemed to be very firm and stable.

Tube #2 (850g)

Again – all holding! 15kg load and tube seems to be stable. Even on the final picture you can’t see any bending whatsoever there.

As you can see Jan being happy – whole this exercise ended up with a huge success, making whole team confident that our tubes will perform well with a 3-fold safety margin.

As always, ping us back with whatever comments and congratulations to the whole team for excellent work!

Fail Fast Fail Often

Working on our “tubes” project at some stage someone (I think it was Byron) mentioned the “Fail fast, fail often” mantra. Well, the last weekend ended up following this slogan to the last bit! Still, preparing for this post it came to me checking on what it actually means and ended up reading few articles on this.

“Fail fast, fail often,” as a mantra has seen some success. SpaceX comes to mind. But “fail fast, fail often” has been around for years. Thomas Edison, by example, “failed” 9,000 times before he was successful with his light bulb invention.

Dan Pontefract (Forbes)

I picked the quote above as it resonated with me well – we failed too many times over the weekend! 😀

Plan B (Friday)

Based on our a new plan (see the end of our previous article) Serge and I tested 150C curing with single CF strip – two wraps, to check if we’ll be able to take it away when mold cools down.

Gloves ready!

We ended up preparing 20g of resin mixture (4g harderner + 16g resin).

All resin work started going much faster now when we know what to do. Demolding spray -> CF bath -> wrap -> white tape -> office tape. 15 minutes later all ready to heat up.

Keeping it for 20 minutes at 150C and wrapped seemed enough for our purpose so we let it cool down and unwrapped it.

Anyway, even cooling it down under water and using ice didn’t help and we needed to cut the tube to remove it from the mold again. There were not even signs that it would go off peacefully. Serge then used leftover resin to glue it in a tube again and we left it overnight to cure as is.

That did actually pretty well and we were able to see some mechanical stability being demonstrated for a first time.

Plan B+ (Saturday)

Before moving to a Plan C (splitting the tube) the idea came in that our demoulding spray might not be the best for our use case, so decided to re-run Plan B with our original TR mold release wax.

Eight layers applied

Eight layers later – tube mold looked like coming straight from Madame Tussauds museum. Serge needed to leave so Seb stepped in as the main assistant.

He seemed to actually have some good fun about it.

.. but it failed again. Even with X layers of mould-release wax – all still the same, it won’t release and we ended up cutting it again.

Plan C (Sunday)

Becoming reasonably desperate, I decided to go with the Plan C – cutting the tube. Not having Serge around to come with some better idea and being pretty upset after all those set-backs, it actually felt pretty relaxing to start manually splitting that two meter-long tube in half (Chris’s idea of split tubes modified by me to be doable in our environment).

It took one hour to chew through that pipe. It was far from being perfect, but also could look worse. Using caliper it was clear that there are probably 2-4 mm missing now on circumference, while those two halves flexed nicely.

I also prepare a jig to keep those halves split away to get additional gap which can be used afterwards to assist another demoulding attempt.

We used Kapton tape to bridge the gap on tube and Seb helped with another wrapping & heating round.

… and after all those failures, we finally had a nice tube. Short one, with imperfections, but it was a tube!

Plan C+ (Sunday night)

Finally seeing a way forward we instantly started preparing to demonstrate how to manufacture longer tube and took this opportunity to show how tube joining will work as well. Seeing how our mold flexes on longer distance, I decided to prepare new spacer which will fit between those halves.

We have that tube preparation already pretty much mastered and stopping in a middle and joining afterwards didn’t seem to be a big deal.

Seb then removed spacer-rods and after bit of wrestling – it worked out!

Final tube came out being roughly 65cm long and weighing 74 grams, which still fits into our plan.

I tried to demonstrate its stiffness on following video.

As you can see, that worked out very well! As always there are few things to improve, but there is a good potential that we’ll be really able to produce some decent tubes here!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave us your comments & ideas as always!

Release The Tube!

We couldn’t resist with Serge and did another session to release the tube of the mandrel. Following the plan we started with filling the tube with ice to check if it’s going to do the job.

It is not that obvious on those pictures above, but it seems to be cracking, it did nothing.

We’ve resented to the plan B – using a brute force and cut it off.

It didn’t go well and took us probably 10 minutes to do so and while we made it, our Aluminium tube suffered some serious scratches.

On the other hand, holding our first tube attempt was pretty satisfying and it clearly has some parameters we are looking for. We agreed that if we’ll be able to take it off the mold properly, it is likely that it’s going to do the job.

Anyway, it was time to check at least some parameters.

As you can see on pictures above, we ended up very close to producing one meter tube weighing 135g. When we take weight of CF tape used ~ 94g it comes with 70:30 CF to resin ratio – which is apparently very good. Next stage would be vacuum bagging where it is possible to reach 75:25, still very close!

In preparation for our next stage we made another trip to ACME Composites and finally got our Resin and HTG Hardener.

Thinking about how to get ready for another go, we formed a new plan:

1/ Test 150C curing with single CF strip – two wraps and check if we’ll be able to take it away when mold cools down

2/ If it won’t we’ll use ice

3/ If it’s going to work out we’ll continue and will try to do 30 cm strip keeping enough tape to potentially continue

4/ Assuming that 3/ worked out – we’ll try to continue and do another 30 cm and so on

5/ In case we won’t be able to continue, or that joint won’t work we’ll cut it of and do another – separate 30cm tube and try to join them together with overlap

6/ If everything fails we have a plan B – Chris came with a plan to split our tube in half to create a gap or space which could be used to release the tube when curing finished

Thermal Expansion

Going through our latest obstacle – releasing our CF tube off the Aluminium mandrel – it made me to do some thinking and recap some calculations on what should we actually expect in this field.

So let’s start with Wikipedia again – Aluminium’s Thermal expansion coefficient (CTE) (α) comes as 23.1 ×10-6/°C

All credits to Wikipedia!

Now, our Al tube comes with 60mm in diameter, which makes our initial circumference of 3.14 * 60 -> 188.4 mm.

Case #1: ΔT – 40C

Our initial test was reaching max 70 C for 90 minutes. While starting on beautiful Queensland summer’s 30 C, that makes our total temperature change (ΔT) of 40C. Using our tube’s diameter, AL CTE and delta we get the circumference change.

188.4×0.0000231×40 -> additional 0.1740816 mm (174 μm) to our original circumference value

Going back to our diameter

188.5740816÷3.14 -> 60.0554 mm

Just for reference, Hair’s breadth comes ranging anywhere from 17 μm to 181 μm [millionths of a meter] – yep, it would be very thin hair gap there!

Case #2: ΔT – 70C

While case #1 temperature change (ΔT) was 40 C, because of Queensland, we’ll now improve our chances by reducing the base line to 0 C. That ramps up our total temperature change (ΔT) of 70 C. In this case we’ll get following change.

188.4×0.0000231×70 -> additional 0.3046428 mm (304 μm) to our original circumference value

Going back to our diameter

188.7046428÷3.14 -> 60.09702 mm

Coming back to our hair’s breadth comparison, we are still within a limit of a single hair (17 μm to 181 μm) here.

Crayion’s response when asking to draw me two strands of thin hair

Case #3: ΔT – 150C

Let’s go wild and aim for our final ΔT of 150 C. This is going to be achieved by heating our mold to 150 C, while cooling it to 0 C afterwards with a common ice.

188.4×0.0000231×150 -> additional 0.652806 mm (652 μm) to our original circumference value

Going back to our original diameter again

189.052906÷3.14 -> 60.2079 mm

Doing our final hair’s breadth comparison – we finally made it over the single hair (17 μm to 181 μm) limit here – let’s be humble and say we’ll have “two hairs” space there. Would it be enough? No idea.

Tubes – Day 2 – Wet Run

As per our Day 1 Seb wasn’t available (Sunday rock-climbing training) so I asked Greg to assist us and we started with planning first.

While probably even more cryptic then the one from previous day, decoded it comes like this:

  1. Apply the demolding spray
  2. Weigh all CF so we can calculate amount of resin mixture needed
  3. Check if anyone has any urgent needs now (restroom visit)!
  4. Check all tapes are ready
  5. Calculate resin needs
  6. Prepare resin mixture (wet-job timer starts here)
  7. Apply 1st layer – this is probably one major change to our original plan. Serge came with idea that having a first layer wet will do well as excess resin will be soaked by the second one.
  8. Apply 2nd layer – this one comes as a dry one
  9. White tape with 50% overlap
  10. Office 80%-90% overlap to squeeze the job even more (wet part of our job finishes)

Job started with the demolding spray application. Serge places several markers there so we won’t miss a spot.

The next in the line was the CF weighing which worked out being roughly 47g per layer.

Based on this value we decided to prepare 150g of resin mixture in a 1:3 ratio (1 part of hardener on 3 parts of resin). Then we hit quite an interesting & unexpected obstacle just before getting it mixed – I’ve been recommended to use Nitrile gloves – but how the heck do you put them on in ~30C heat-wave?

Mixing resin was easy with scales – 37g of hardener + top up to 150g with resin. Our wet-job timer started here!!

The next stage was to make sure that all CF is getting wet properly.

On to laying the first (wet) layer + Serge using squeegee to spread resin evenly on top.

Straight to the second (dry) one.

White tape! (~10 minutes in). Here you can see that we ended up with few “white” patches where tape seems not to be having enough resin. This will be visible even more later, but raising it here as it became apparent for the first time (pretty early in process). It is likely that we still had a good chance to add some resin to fix this at this stage.

… and yes, final layer with the office tape!

Done! All in roughly 15 minutes!

Well done Greg and Serge! 🙂

At this stage we found ourselves in an interesting situation – what should we do next? As we couldn’t get the actual resin I’ve been looking for we ended up with a more traditional one which sort of even doesn’t require any heat-assisted curing. It can cure on its own though several days. Another question here was when should we expect that curing process to start as being almost an hour in the “wet” job, while mixture’s viscosity was still – honey-ish.

We left an excess resin in a jar so we can oversee that actual curing process and it actually all happened in a matter of minutes … right just when team (Serge & Greg) left. Resin temperature suddenly spiked to 90C+ and I couldn’t pinch its surface anymore.

Seb then had a quite a fun testing it – and we were quite amazed that he needed to use a hammer to actually smash it.

Discussing it further with Serge we decided to test the high-temperature (70C) curing on it as well. And so we did!

Heater needed to be injected in the wider tube again and we wrapped whole contraption in a thermal insulation to reduce the heat dissipation. Strangely contact of our temperature probe with that aluminium foil seemed to confuse readings again so I decided to cutout a bit to avoid any. That also opened way how to cross-measure temperature with our IR thermometer.

Richard’s heater & Seb’s monitoring system did the job and together with a bit of manual overload we’ve been able to keep pretty stable 70C for 90 minutes.

Giving it another hour to cool down – we started removing the white-tape wrap. It was strangely satisfying experience seeing how it is coming out.

At the end I took few pictures of that texture – it looked perfect!

Well and here we are! We apparently have an awesome CF tube ready, but I don’t seem to know any way to get it from the mold! Not like it would be glued to the Al tube, but it is so tight that it is clear that stripping it away will be difficult to the point where I am already quite negative that it will work out.

Anyway, there is still a chance that our Al tube expansion wasn’t big enough as we were using different resin than intended for our final go (150C). We should also consider using even more of that de-moulding spray, probably in multiple layers (4+) – one by one when they get dry.

Finally, there is that problem with CF not being properly wet on few places. That needs to be something we need to watch after next time.

Otherwise, I think this was an amazing job for our first go! When around and having some ideas, please leave us those in comments, as always more brains comes handy.

Tubes – Day 1 – Dry Run

What a weekend! Huge thanks to whole team first (Serge, Greg, Seb, Richard & Chris … and more) – because we made it! There were so many things happening both days that I decided to split it in two (still pretty chunky) posts.

We started with Serge about 2pm Saturday with forming a plan!

While not readable well, it sort of goes like this:

  1. Clear the tube
  2. Build a resin applicator
  3. Apply release film
  4. 1st carbon fiber (CF) wrap & seal ends
  5. 2nd carbon fiber (CF) wrap & seal ends
  6. 3rd layer resin protection tape
  7. Weigh CF tape + measure time for the wet-works (just a note)

While Serge started working on the resin dispenser, work progressed in parallel on clearing the tube. That’s important so resin has limited grip on it and releases the mold with ease. For this I ended up using Septone Ali Brite Aluminium Cleaner 1 Litre from Good Guys, what ended up being a wrong decision.

While this product seems being recommended all over the shop, it didn’t deliver – our aluminium tube still being scratched and dirty even after 5 minutes of polishing. Serge came straight with a better solution – bringing in a green sponge for washing dishes & dishwashing paste – and it came with an instant results. Still doing this properly took us probably 30 minutes.

Meanwhile Serge built the resin dispenser by reusing old squeegee and Loaf Pan from K-Mart.

Final picture TBA.

The next step was to apply the release film – ULTRALEASE EPX PARFILM MOULD RELEASE from Barnes, however we decided not to do it and leave this step for the wet run.

Apply the 1st CF layer next – Serge realized that ends of our CF tape needs to be taped so they keep together, also found that picking up a right angle how to apply the tape might be bit tricky.