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January 12, 2009 10:55 AM 1/12/09

And no one should have to use Windows either.

I can’t believe the amount of people downloading the Windows 7 Beta. IT’S VISTA WITHOUT THE SHINY!


Anyway we’re in for another cold snap so I fully expect to have to get out there and plow repeatedly. I had to do it a few times on Saturday but that didn’t turn out too bad. Still have to find the chains for the rear wheels though.

Came up with another airship related question. How much more energetic does helium become when heated?

The idea was to take a standard heated balloon bag but with lightweight rigid sides like a zeppelin then on the outside of that put another bag filled with a static amount of helium.

In theory the helium would increase the overall buoyancy of the airship and the internal heated air bag would provide enough lift AND heat the helium to make it even more energetic and thus even more buoyant.

Heat to rise, vent to drop, to drop fast pump the helium into a tank.

And in the event the burners go out you would settle to the ground slowly due to the added buoyancy of the helium.

The best part is that with the helping helium you wouldn’t have to carry as much fuel onboard to heat the air bag.

Shouldn’t be very hard to build a test vehicle.

And here’s another related idea - a collapsable semi-rigid frame.

Imagine what amounts to giant tent poles - the kind with elastic running down the middle - about 2“ in diameter. You could either put them all together and slide them into channels in the outer bag or...

You could in theory sew them into the bag but make them able to collapse in such a way that you could store the bag and poles in one cylindrical bundle. Think of it like two of those collapsable drink cups you use when you go camping. Push on either end of the frame, the poles fold in an accordion fashion and you end up with a single round pancake in the center of the airship. Put a retaining cover over the whole thing and put it into the gondola. Then transport the gondola however you will. (I think a road-towable gondola would be nice but it truly depends on the scale of the airship in question.)

I don’t know why more people don’t build airships. It seems like they would certainly cost less than other aircraft to build even with the FAA (or whoever) certifications. I know there are people working on these things out there but they seem to be few and far between.

Unfortunately I don’t have the land to build an airship. Maybe that’s a goal I should add to my future plans...

Still need to buy more XXXX so I can start on the XXXX before spring hits. Not sure what color I’m going to use for the XXXX but it should be XXXX to match the XXXX. Regardless it’s a long project so I should start as soon as I can afford it.

I did some rough calculations on the raised beds I want to make in the garden. I want to use poured concrete pavers 6”x9“x2” in size so for one raised bed it’s going to take several _hundred_ pavers. That’s an awful lot of pavers but the molds are cheap ($5+shipping each) and I can get ten of them (not quite yet) and pour ten pavers at a time. The concrete is cheap as well. My only concern is time because they have to set for 48 hours supposedly before you can take them out of the molds. Faster if you use quick-set concrete but that is more expensive.

So it’s a race. And on top of it all I have to set up to start the plants earlier than last year indoors so I can make use of the growing season that was annoyingly short last year.

This whole homeowner/gardener/bricklayer thing is going to kill me if I’m not careful. ;-)

A friend suggested cruising demolition sites to see if I can’t get the bricks that way because supposedly if you get there when they are doing the demolition there’s a good chance they’ll just give them away. But if you’re too slow then salvage people show up and pay money to remove the bricks. I’ll have to check around on that one because it seems like a really good idea.

Back to work now...

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
If my memory serves, the round the world balloon attempt used a semi rigid helium gas cell within a hot air balloon. I believe they did it that way because it allowed them the greatest degree of flexibility without carry huge amounts of ballast.

As for why more people aren't doing it, simple, there was a dearth of investment after the Hindenburg and basically, all the skills that went into their construction was all lost as people moved on, grew old and died. So only recently have we got more or less back to where we were.

And yeah, I wish I had enough land and money to work on it. You know I've got more than a few ideas I'd love to try out.
Jan. 13th, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
Well it's nice to have my ideas confirmed anyway. ;-)

It's strange but I don't often look these things up just pour them out onto virtual (and sometimes real) paper.

And we could all use land to work on these things.

Last night I looked through websites of abandoned buildings and it occurred to me that if you could get at least the concrete ones and gut them you'd have simple platforms for experimentation or power generation or just about anything.

Gutting them, provided they didn't have a nasty chemical, could be done using a construction dumpster in short order. After that it's whatever you want to do with it.

For instance here's an old radio station in Japan that's abandoned:


It's made almost entirely of concrete and could easily be stripped bare and covered with solar cells on top. Once that's done the rest can be added using reclaimed materials and suddenly you have a refurbished building suitable for multiple uses.

They're all over the place. Here's a list of some in England.
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:32 am (UTC)
The biggest problem with airships is that, if it's a simple gasbag, the wind determines your direction and speed, and if it's a powered airship, it's slow. Okay for sightseeing, or anything else where you just basically want to lift stuff straight up, but not terribly useful as transportation.
Jan. 13th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Not true. There are many companies that are now looking at large-scale airships for cargo transport.



A cargo airship can easily out-perform truck or train transport for long distances in part because of straight-line vs curved roads and in part because they're cheaper to feed.

As for personal transport I take these factors into account:

1) As long as you have sun you have airship propulsion. Flexible solar cells are more than light enough to cover the top of an airship to recharge a few batteries to run a propeller.

2) Speed isn't as important as comfort for long distance travel in my book. I'd rather get there a day later or so and in comfort and style than quickly and beat up so to speak. (This second point goes back to my idea about how the world needs to slow down to move forward.)
Jan. 14th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
Did you notice that the "Aeroscraft" is not actually in production? Those pretty pictures of it are visibly CAD pictures. Nice idea, but will it ever actually be built?

You may prefer to travel more slowly, but more comfortably, but most people - or at least most of the people who buy plane tickets for long flights - would much rather get there as fast as possible. And now that the world economy is falling apart, people are even less likely to want to pay for a luxurious airship ride.

There does, however, seem to be a market for slow-moving heavy lifters. And maybe when global finances are steadier again, people will be ready to think of an airship trip as a more scenic version of a luxury cruise.

But we need to find a solution to the world helium shortage...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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