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Remote Control Blimp

All my life I have been extremely interested in gadgets. My dad and I would goto Frys Electronics all the time just to walk around and gaze upon all of the useless things that we thought we needed. I would stare at all the voltmeters and the various type of desk lamps they offered. Funny enough the one in Woodland Hills was designed like you were walking into the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland and I always thought that to be appropriate. As a freshman at UCI I happened to run into a remote control blimp at Frys in Fountain Valley. It cost like $80. Here is the story.

Now I have no real passion for blimps, but I do love and adore remote control electronics. I used to be very heavy into R/C cars and spent many hundreds of dollars, or my dad’s dollars, trying to win the races behind the target and losing to the fat kids who had more money. In R/C car racing, just buy the best motor and you can do well. Electronic R/C that is. The coolest thing I got out of R/C life was getting my neighbor Matt involved who had some serious sponsorships from the parental units. He bought the best car, the best motor, and the best everything. We celevrated this by convincing him that he should line it up towards my friend Len’s 8 foot quarter pipe. An R/C car that weighs around 10 pounds going 45 mph up an 8 foot ramp that is vertical at the top is a freaking awesome combination. The car cleared the 100 foot oak tree and came down on the ground so hard it cracked the concrete. But I digress…

But let me digress one more time… I used to have an online journal in high school where I would write each day about random things that usually made no sense but was generally an entertaining read for the population at my school. I swear I had beat the blog scene but never capitalized, oh well. Either way I had a web cam in my room that you could control from the web page which I thought very cool. I had a contest that asked people to take pictures of me and send them in. I planned to give no prizes but people sent me some pretty hilarious pictures. Most involved the use of MSpaint and poorly drawn or pasted pictures of penises in front of my face. But I digress…

So I really wanted to venture into the realm of flight with R/C vehicles but planes and helicopters were so expensive. So when I saw this blimp I thought it was perfect at $80 while I was a broke freshman. I show up at the dorm and open the box. First I had to buy some 16 AA batteries brining my cost up another $14. This was for the remote and the mini fans. The next problem was that the balloon was not filled with air. The balloon had the dimensions of 3.5 x 2 x 2 feet, pretty fuckin big, nice and shiny with some really slick lightning bolts on it which obviously was to give it the impression that it would be moving really fast.

So UCI had a flower and balloon stand which I hoped would help me out. I brought the balloon down there and begged to have it filled up. They finally obliged for some over priced fee, damn bureaucrats, and I was walking back with a giant silver balloon with lightning bolts. I was very careful to not let this thing fly away and even tied a string to it and my shirt. I was getting really excited.

Back in the dorm I attached the main unit with the engines to it. you then need to attach weights (washers) to the balloon otherwise it floats away. After a while I got the ballast right and in my dorm room was this huge balloon with a small black unit on the bottom of it and it just hovered there, dead still. It was pretty cool. I would hang notes to the bottom of it that said things like “Go fuck yourself Geoff” or some other really poor taste thing like that. I would then fly it out my door, down the hall, and then into the next room making best guesses as to where it was. Keep in mind that this thing moved INCREDIBLY slow. It was too slow really but who wants a missle blimp? Just imagine, sitting at your desk, hearing this buzzing sound, and you look to your left and all you see is this giant silver balloon slowly turnin to face you telling you to fuck off. Perfect.

So now the time came to take it outside and really see what this thing could do. It was at this time that I learned some basic physics. Helium will act differently under different temperatures. So in our lovely california sun, the balloon basically started to rise and never changed it’s course. I had the fans at full speed and was running through middle earth (the dorms) as fast as I could to stay under it. Suddenly the lightning bolts were telling the truth and the balloon was moving at gulf stream speeds. I ran for about a mile staring at the sky with a ludicrously large and ineffective remote control screaming at an inanimate object which apparently only I could see. Only once I saw a plane fly underneath it did I give up and consider the balloon a loss.

What did I learn from this lesson? Nothing. I have broken several mini R/C helicopters, bought an R/C helicopter USB thingy that was the biggeest waste of time, went back to frys to get another balloon but was denied at the counter when I didn’t have any money, spent hours researching R/C helicopters and other things to fly like UFO’s, and much more stupid stuff that I shouldn’t waste my time on or even want.

Published inLukeUCI