View Full Version : Air Swimmers

08-19-2011, 04:13 PM

Very cool Festo-style shark/fish blimps look like they will become a real product. I still have my suspicions that they will not be simple to operate for small kids. Proper inflation pressure, ballasting, actuator adjustment, etc.

But for us BIG kids who can deal with those headaches, they sure look like a lot of fun!

An autonomous blimp remains perpetually on my "to do" list.

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
08-19-2011, 04:33 PM
I want one! How much does helium cost now? I understand we're running out of this non-renewable resource.


Update: They're only $40. :) But sold out. :(

08-19-2011, 05:53 PM
Available at Amazon for close to $100 shipped: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B005FYCBR6/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new

Let the scalping begin!

Beau Schwabe
08-19-2011, 06:26 PM
C'mon Phil, we can use Hydrogen... we'll be careful... besides, it's relatively easy to make. :-)

Seriously, you can rent a tank of Helium for about $20

Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)
08-19-2011, 06:46 PM
... we can use Hydrogen ...


Seriously, you can rent a tank of Helium for about $20

Do you have to return the helium when the rental period is up? :)

Seriously, I've read that, due to some political blundering, the U.S. helium reserve is dwindling quickly:


It's already beginning to affect my nephew, who uses liquid helium in his physics research.


Beau Schwabe
08-19-2011, 06:49 PM

" Do you have to return the helium when the rental period is up?" - No, the Helium is all yours for $20, they (<-Just about any party store that sells balloons) just want the tank back.

08-19-2011, 06:50 PM
Do not make me Youtube our "Battling Blimps" segment on Letterman from 1989...

Hydrogen fun.

Beau Schwabe
08-19-2011, 06:53 PM

Well, Gee erco... sounds like we might want to twist your arm now... you wouldn't have said that unless you were dying to post it anyway :smile:

08-19-2011, 07:04 PM
But I read that many helium tanks for balloons contain added oxygen in case the helium is inhaled.

08-19-2011, 07:11 PM
Gotta find the VHS tape, drag out a VCR, hook up a USB converter, blah blah... one day.

08-19-2011, 07:15 PM
I'm an airship nut. One of my favorite "fun facts" about airships:

Only the US had helium-filled airships, 4 rigid airships (zeppelins) back in the 20s-30s. Crewmen would regularly patrol inside the hull, climbing ladders, inspecting the gas cells, looking for holes & helium leaks. They worked in pairs, calling back & forth to each other. When they heard their voices start going higher, they had found their leak!

08-19-2011, 08:27 PM
Pretty neat. You could make a neat indoor UAV out of one of those.

08-19-2011, 08:36 PM
Hot air blimp:


I wonder how hard it would be to make a very small version.
They made a 1/4 scale model for testing, but that was 25 ft. long.

08-19-2011, 08:41 PM
I wonder how hard it would be to make a very small version.

Pretty hard, you couldn't go much smaller than that to carry a person. Ground crew, risk, liability, prep, maintenance, a total PITA. Long term, more expensive, more dangerous and far less useful than a little Cessna 152.

08-19-2011, 08:53 PM
Hehe, I was thinking more along the lines of 3 to 5 feet...

08-19-2011, 09:50 PM
Shucks... and you'll use helium, not hot air.

Although sometimes, you could fill quite a gasbag with all the hot air in some of these posts! :)

08-19-2011, 10:33 PM
No, I was wondering if hot air might be possible.

Helium is a non-renewable resource (well, not easily (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion) or quickly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_decay) anyway) and kind of expensive.

Its use in things such as "party balloons" is questionable.

There is plenty of it to be had however, if you can get to it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter).

10-29-2011, 09:24 PM
Well they're in hobby shops now. My buddy got the store to match an online price of $30, and it does work as advertised. The main weird thing is, you have to manually oscillate the remote control to get the thing to "swim", and you leave it left or right to turn. Great fun and LOTS of attention-getting action.

The shameless copies are out, too. Here is one online from Ebay China for $22, free shipping!


10-31-2011, 12:13 PM
I saw these as iHobby Chicago last week. The wholesale price is even less if yo get a carton of 12.
In addition to the left - right control to manually wag the tail, there is front - back control that slide the lower ballast weight to the front or to the back, to make it point down of point up.
Should be no more taxing on a kid's thumbs than a hand held game.

Communication is IR line of sight, and the I think the guy in the wet suit said it runs for about 7 hours on the AAA batteries. (He didn't say if that was the remote or the fish)

10-31-2011, 04:07 PM
You can send a beam of warm air to a balloon. to give it lift without the dangers of exploding hydrogen. Try not to buy hydrogen from a company named Hindenburg Intl. to sub for helium.


01-20-2012, 04:36 PM
For zeppelin fans: there was a neat old print of the ZR-1 Shenandoah from Nat Geo for sale at


but just print yourself a copy from http://c590298.r98.cf2.rackcdn.com/NGM2_468.JPG

Nice resolution, looks great at 11x17.