Re-inventing the wheel - RC Groups
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May 24, 2006, 11:57 PM
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philgib's Avatar

Re-inventing the wheel

I am never comfortable with reinventing the wheel, and I cannot believe how most of us are all embarassed about building a blimp, except a few seniors in this forum.

US army is stabilizing surveillance blimps for months in the atmosphere to watch the mexican frontier, and we are still wondering which material and which glue is the best for a small outdoor blimp....

Looks like the mexican binary poor-rich society...
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May 25, 2006, 08:31 AM
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Greg McNair's Avatar
I think embarassed might be the wrong word. Most of the "seniors" in this forum are businessmen, active in the trade of selling the rest of us a blimp. Naturally they don't want to give away their sources or give us A-Z instruction on how to build one of the larger units for fear of creating competition (worst case scenario) or losing a potential sale to you or others reading the post (probably an even worse scenario). And there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

It's like walking into a car stealership and asking the mechanic to tell you how to fix something. They could tell you, but then you'll spend your money at a discount auto parts house (instead of their parts shop), and do the work yourself. They didn't gain anything from it. Occasionally you might run into someone willing to give you the answer, but that is the exception, not the rule. I think for Guga to provide info that he has (and he has helped me in private questions) is commendable. I think it speaks even higher of any company willing to sell parts of a blimp to give the consumer the ability to build their own wheel, not necessarily reinvent it. When we buy a complete RTF system, we hope to be buying experience, success, and proof of concept that was tested before it left the factory/warehouse/backyard shed. And we'll have to pay for that. There's not a thing in the world wrong with charging for services. But some of us are DIY'ers who would prefer to build components ourselves. I'm no envelope builder or designer, so I know my limitations.

Spend the money to buy an envelope from one of these manufacturers, and they'll likely gladly give you info on what glue works best, how to apply it, and give you other pointers along the way. Build a relationship with one of them first (which means spending $$), and I'm sure in private they'd be more than willing to assist.
May 25, 2006, 11:08 AM
Registered User
philgib's Avatar
Hello Graig,

I perfectly understood your "business" point of view and did notice that some people here were blimps sellers. I actually like the fact that they do not try to hide it, which at least is sane / honnest and thus may not affect absolute beginner's judgment like mine.

My point is that I am a member of various forums on various subjects, and this is the first time I stumble on such a limited shared knowledge and I wonder why.

Does that mean that new members have tried and failed, then disappear from the forums ? If that would be the case, then would it be a lack of previous preparation, as hinted by Guga, or a disappointing blimp behaviour in the air, because new comers can only afford small blimps and not mnimum 30 feet blimps as suggested by Guga ?

I nevertheless do not share your "Build a relationship with one of them first (which means spending $$), and I'm sure in private they'd be more than willing to assist". That sounds quite venal to me. Shouldn't the purpose of a forum be to shared in public and not in private ? Thus my use of the word "embarassed".

So I still fail to understand, but I did appreciate that you took some of your personal time to answer to me and to explain the situation quite clearly.

Hope you won't charge me "fat" for that tough - Hey, I am just kidding, stop swearing ! :-)

Best regards

May 25, 2006, 01:45 PM
Registered User
Greg McNair's Avatar
Phil, remember that each manufacturer is reading the same text you are reading at this very moment. If Brand A tells you to buy your supplies from Supplier X, then Brand B learns that they've been buying from a more expensive supplier Z all this time. Now Brand B can catch up to why Brand A was less expensive in the first place, so Brand A has lost the competitive edge. It's just simple business. Minizepp doesn't want to give away industry secrets to Airship Solutions, and Airship Solutions doesn't want to give away their secrets to Mobile Airships. Business. Those are the "seniors." Those who are not in business to make you a blimp are going to be folks like Tom (Majortomski) who are of a rare few who even participate in the forums. And thanks for it Tom! The rest of us are in the same boat as you my friend. We're all here to learn as well, but if the only teachers are business folks who don't want to give away industry secrets in public, then I can respect that. Now that I've spent some dough with one of them, I know that they'll be there to help me in some of the construction phase. But I won't be so arrogant to think that I should expect them to teach me how to build something they would have rather sold to me. It would be improper for me to ask them that.

And while it may seem to be a "limited shared knowledge", that's also because this is the only active r/c blimp forum in the world. It's not like a Harley owner's association, or even an r/c sailboat group with hundreds or thousands of active users. There's just not that many participants in this aspect.

May 25, 2006, 05:03 PM
Registered Optimist
Hmm. In answer to the original question, I don't think the problem is as much to do with business and profits as Greg does.

The US military can build fabulous airships that stay up for months because they're looking at all the academic research and paying people to spend a lot of time finding out what's best, and then once they've found that out they can buy the best fabrics available and have them made up professionally by companies with equipment designed for this sort of thing. For both them and us, the question "what material do we use?" has an answer determined by budget, suppliers, availability of machines and workspace to build it with, time for testing, etc.. But for them, the ranges of those factors are so different that they're answering a completely different question. I could ask the US military what the best fabric to use for an airship is and they might say 'Tedlar/polyester/mylar laminate" and I'll go "oh. I have no idea where to get any of that, and no way to join it together, either" and be back at square one.

In other words it's not so much problems with shared knowledge (I have a book here called Airship Technology which has a whole chapter on materials and what's best to use; I'm sure anyone else in this forum could get it out of the library too) as problems with applying the shared knowledge in a local situation. It's not re-inventing the wheel, it's working out how best to build a wheel given the contents of your particular local shops, given the size and nature of your workspace, given your previous wheel-building experience, given what you want the wheel to do... I think some people may come to a forum like this looking for a set of easy answers, when any project like this is a design problem, which means you have to work out what your own best answers are. If people want easy answers, they can go and buy a kit where all the design work has been done.
Last edited by shermarama; May 25, 2006 at 05:09 PM. Reason: clarifying
May 25, 2006, 06:42 PM
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philgib's Avatar
Thanks for the explanation.