Solar balloons

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by catman529, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    I thought I would share with everyone one of my other hobbies. For longer than I have been fishing I have been constructing model hot air balloons. I use Ruffies black lawn trash bags, because they are the thinnest. And because they are black, the sun quickly heats the plastic which heats the air inside of the balloon. My largest is a tetrahedron-shaped balloon that stands 10 feet tall. I built a harness for my digital camera and I have taken some great (tethered) aerial videos. Just today I released two smaller balloons that I didn't need. They flew up, up, and away, until you coudn't see them. That puts solar balloons in perspective. And the best tether to use is Stren 30lb test mono. Here are some pics of some of my balloons:

    solarballoon_1.jpg
    untethered.jpg
    low_balloon.jpg
     
  2. pk_powell

    pk_powell New Member

    Messages:
    3,485
    State:
    Missouri
    What an interesting post. Thank you for the pics,thats neat!:big_smile:
     

  3. tomcat85

    tomcat85 New Member

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    966
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    uh
    thats pretty cool man can you explain the proccess of making them? sounds interesting.
     
  4. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    Details on making one. :cool2:
     
  5. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    I will have to set up a Web page with more detailed info, but heres the basics:

    I cut the sealed end off of a folded bag, then I slice along the side and unfold the bag to get a 3x5' sheet of plastic. I lay them out and fasten with cheap masking tape from wally world. When making the tether attachment I use many layers of tape to avoid ripping and losing the balloon in gusts of wind. When I finish a balloon, I use a 2-speed/heat blow dryer to inflate. Once the air is hot, if the sun is hot, the balloon stays hot. This doesn't work as well in the winter because of low UV index.

    The balloons are real fun to fly - a good starter balloon would be a 4' tetroon (tetrahedron balloon). I will make a Web page with all the instructions for making a 4' tetroon. The only requirements for that model is
    • 4 30-gal black Ruffies lawn bags (.5 MIL thickness, very important)
    • One roll of 3/4-inch masking tape
    • Scissors
    • Fishing line (for tether)
    Keep that list and I will PM you when I have my Web page set up.
     
  6. tomcat85

    tomcat85 New Member

    Messages:
    966
    State:
    uh
    thanks brother maybe this spring ill get to try it out if im not out fishing.
     
  7. laidbck111

    laidbck111 New Member

    That is very neat and looks like a good hobby.
     
  8. duxsrus

    duxsrus New Member

    Messages:
    1,014
    State:
    SW Ohio
    That is awesome. I didn't know people did such things. Keep posting pics and details.
     
  9. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    Hey yall, heres some pix I just took this morning. A great thing to do on a Thanksgiving morning - I wish I had made a turkey-shaped balloon.

    The first pic is my standard-shaped 7ft balloon over 100 ft in the air, second one is my 10ft tetrahedron (with empty camera harness attached) skimming the roof, and the last is my 3.5-foot tall "clear top" balloon. Note that the top is not showing but it is made with Glad plastic wrap.
    • highballoon.jpg
    • 10ft_tetroon1.jpg
    • cleartop.jpg
    More pix will come in next time I fly my balloons
     
  10. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    Would duct tape work. Are would that make it too heavy.
    I will have too try this for fun.
     
  11. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    Duct tape wouldnt be the best choice, yes, because of weight. The masking tape also holds real well and never peels. Plus it is cheaper. Like I said earlier, I will create a Web page w/ complete instructions on making a balloon. Im glad you all are interested. Check back in the next few days to see if I've got my Web page set up.
     
  12. MattShannon

    MattShannon New Member

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    829
    State:
    WV
    pretty cool, thanks for sharing
     
  13. zappaf19

    zappaf19 New Member

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    1,574
    State:
    Monticello,IN
    Now thats cool!:cool2:
    Bill
     
  14. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    Here are 3 pics of aerial videos I took on Thanksgiving Day from my 10-foot tetrahedron balloon. This was the highest my camera has been yet!
    • aerial_view1.jpg
    • aerial_view2.jpg
    • aerial_view3.jpg
     
  15. catfisher43

    catfisher43 New Member

    Messages:
    910
    State:
    missouri
    pretty neat hobby.thx for sharing.
     
  16. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    Thanx everyone for all your compliments. Not a lot of people know that this is one of my main hobbies. I just made my biggest yet. It is not all the way complete but when it is it will stand at least 12 ft tall. Took several hours to make. I will post a thread here soon about it.
     
  17. Whistler

    Whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    State:
    TN
    http://www.balloonhq.com/faq/deco_releases.html

    Jon, here's a website you might be interested in. I spent my whole life in aviation and got to wondering if it might be possible that what you're doing might be a hazard to air traffic in your area. From what I found, it's not really a problem, but there are some good tips for you to check out in there. Local ordinances for one thing and there are some laws that govern what type's of balloons you release too. Sounds like a fun hobby, but it probably wouldn't hurt to check and make sure you're legal. I used to mess with model rockets. They are a lot of fun, but they fall under some rules too. And I don't think they are as easy to get these days.
     
  18. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    I am working on my How-To Web site for solar balloons. It is incomplete but you may want to look at it. When it is finished I will post a new thread.

    http://sbhowto.50g.com/

    hope y'all like it
     
  19. duxsrus

    duxsrus New Member

    Messages:
    1,014
    State:
    SW Ohio
    Looks good already. I'll have to keep checking for updates.
     
  20. catman529

    catman529 New Member

    Messages:
    817
    State:
    Tennessee
    My site is up and running yall, here it is:
    http://sbhowto.50g.com/
    I know I already posted but now it has instructions for making a balloon, videos, pics (under construction), types of balloons and two forms. One form is a questions/comments form and the other allows you to send me pics if you made your own balloons.

    good luck to those of you who try it out.:smile2: