Eric Hodel in Seattle is doing 34 things including…

Build a zeppelin

11 cheers


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Eric Hodel has written 4 entries about this goal


I’ve built two ribs, so my hands are now thoroughly covered in superglue. I laminated three layers of 3/32” x 3/8” balsa in a spiral. Each rib is about 20” in diameter.

While building the spiral I used pins to hold the balsa in place while the glue set. The first rib was a bit more difficult as I pinned down the strips in too many places. The second I only pinned the ends down and glued longer sections. This gave fewer voids in the lamination, too.

New Tools!

Today I went out and got some balsa wood and various tools to begin construction of my zeppelin. I started by cutting a piece 3” by 6” by 1/32” sheet of balsa into 3/8” strips using this method, then I put some nails in a 4’ x 4’ sheet of plywood in a circle. I stopped after seven because it seemed too loud.

With 36” strips this thin, I won’t need to soak the balsa to get it to bend, which means I won’t need to clean my tub for soaking.

I’ve already sustained an injury, which can only be a good omen, as almost every other time I’ve built something awesome I’ve drawn blood. This time it was from hitting my elbow on my counter as I retrieved my x-acto knife.


Hydrogen has a lifting capacity of 1.1 kg/m³, and Helium has a lifting capacity of 1.02 kg/m³.

At 3m long and 1m in diameter, that’s ~ 2.1 m³ of gas, or 2.14 kg lifting capacity. I could probably increase the diameter to 1.5 m and still be able to make it out the door, giving 5.3 kg lifting capacity.

Zeppelins are cool

Much cooler than blimps, which are big gas bags with some motors draped off of them.

With a zeppelin you can put motors anywhere because they’ve got this frame around them. It should be easy to build a zeppelin frame from balsa wood, then attach some model-airplane motors to it. Plus, with the rigid structure you could probably even attach things like cameras to them.

You also get to hang ropes off of them for mooring, just like in real life! Oh, and I can even get a cool zep captain hat, just like ‘ol Ferdinand himself!

Eric Hodel has gotten 11 cheers on this goal.


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