Making the Study Models.

Preferred Shape

Airshippers want to build a shape which represents their opinion of the lightest and strongest shape possible which also donates some aerodynamic lift to the SkyBoat. An airship body with a shape that has the aerodynamic qualities of an airfoil is called a "lifting body." The Meece SkyBoat is a lifting body design so that it is heavy on the ground and needs some forward velocity to take off. This makes it easier to control when it is on the ground.

Keep the shape simple so that it will be easy to make. Spend all the time and energy you wish on graph paper sketches and making 3D models with Google's free program, Sketch-Up.

Second Life is a virtual 3D online world which has a useful 3D build editor. It is also great fun for pretend-flying of your own airship creation.

You may find software to play with airfoils and lift body design and you can get involved with the mathematics of flight and learn all sorts of technical terms about aircraft but remember, the sooner you finish the planning, the sooner you will fly.
Since it is not possible to design the perfect dirigible on the first go-around, all dirigibles are "field-engineered." They are flown first and perfected later. This applies to the SkyBoat also. The test flights will teach you how to make it better.

As for the SkyBoat Project, this "fat diamond kite on steroids" is currently the preferred shape and I will make a model of it with very cheap materials; bamboo sticks, string and masking tape and polyurethane glue in a caulking gun.
PVC pipe, available at hardware stores is a good medium for making models too.

A faceted Personal Ultralight Dirigible design by Meece while learning the 'Sketch-up' 3D drawing program. 3D virtual models are cheap and easy and fast ways to help the designer to visualize his ideas.

This drawing was done with Google's free Sketch-up 3D program. Learning to use 3D provides more knowledge about how to put your actual SkyBoat together and helps you understand the spatial aspects of a big floating envelope.

Make a Model

Choose cheep! materials for your models and make one now. It will enable you to see how the pieces will fit together in the real world and will show you how many pieces you will have to include in your "weight budget." A weight budget is a necessary chore because it will tell you how big the lift gas volume has to be to get the whole dream off the ground. You gotta know how big it's got to be before you can build it otherwise you will waste a lot of effort building a lightweight structure that only sits on the ground. You can enter it in a sculpture show but you cannot fly in it.

Glamorous life of an Airshipper constructing a model of an UltraLight Personal Dirigible. UPD

Allen is using bamboo bean poles and string to construct a 25% scale study model of his UPD. The 3 mil thick polyethylene film in the background is a 10 X 25 sheet of Ace Hardware dropclothe and costs about six dollars. It will be used to cover the model to study the form further. Later, that type of cheep! film will be made into lift bags for helium or H2 gas preferably. Airshipping is supremely affordable.

Knee joints connect SkyBoat spars. They are represented in the model by corrugated plastic board fixed with cable ties. In the Test Bed dirigible, knee joints will be fiberglass-covered boards of styrofoam and buckled nylon belts. One side of the knee is permanently attached to a spar while another side uses a removable buckle. The Skyboat thus will be disassemblable. [My word]

Model spars of bamboo sticks are joined by knee joints.

Tail surface mounts a pannable electric motor which turns the UPD left and right.

Tail of the UPD "SkyBoat" mounts a motor on a lever which pans the motor thrust.

As the model progresses more understanding is gained as to how the TestBed Unit will be put together. The answers come as you build. Experience is a teacher, bringing solutions into your head which you could never imagine while using just pen and paper. After a few days, pen and paper drawings become excuses not to fly. Same with mathematical computations and spreadsheets. They cannot build anything except excuses to stay on the ground where it's safe.

Gondola floor is where the rigging meets at the mast base.