Rigid Airship Ceiling Light

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About: Ordinary guy, who turned his world upside down, and decided to make woodworking a matter of all his life. Come along, it will be interesting and fun

Hi everyone! To begin I’ll tell a story happened in my childhood. There have always been a lot of books in our house. Most of them were about mechanics, nature, history. I often singled out my father for the books, the meaning of which was not clear to me. Once I came across a book about the history of airships. I was interested with it right away, because on its pages I found a lot of interesting schematic pictures. I decided to certainly read it. Being a little boy, I still did not know what impact this book will make on me in the future.

Years went by. I tried myself in different professions and by the will of fate I changed my city. Together with my wife, we settled in a small colorful and historic town, where crafts are valued. And that's what happened. Who would have thought that 20 years later the same book about the history of airships met me at a flea market 700 km far from home? I felt myself warm and comfortable as soon as I picked it up. Airships! That’s what I wanted to use for the basis of the lamp, which I had long dreamed of doing. At first I was looking for a long time, which model to choose. I looked through one after another with interest and stopped on the British airship R101, built in 1929.

Supplies:

Step 1: What You Need

○Laser cutter

○Laser cutting software

○Software for design details of rigid aircraft

○Acrylic glass about 40x40 inches

○Corrugated fiberboard 40x40 inches (the extra will not hurt)

○White tissue Paper

○3хLightbulb socket

○3хLED light bulb

○Double-sided tape

○A little bit electrical wiring

○Walnut board half an inch thick

○Bolts with nuts (for installation in place)

○Thin chain

○Small eyelet screws

Step 2: Editing Dimension Airship Ratio

I decided that my airship would be a height or diameter of 30 cm (approximately 12 inches). But to meet the proportions of the original model of the airship, its length should have been more than 65 inches. Therefore, to make it not very large, the length had to be reduced to 45 inches.

Step 3: Cardboard Model

Usually, I make all my models firstly from regular cardboard in full size. I'm testing. This is a cheap, affordable material, it is quickly to cut, you can always change the details and it only takes a few minutes. So I did with the airship. After the work on the cardboard model was completed, problems immediately appeared.

Step 4: Design of the Final Model for Plastic Cutting

In the original cardboard model there were 14 arcs. In order to fix the 4 tail blades I would have to develop a special belt for fastening 4 blades, and even more - every detail would need to be fixed in two places. This means that two additional belts are needed. I decided to go a simpler way: attach the tail blades on the arcs themselves. All I needed to do was to change the number of arcs to a multiple of four, which means 12 or 16 arcs. 16 arcs - sounds great! So the design will be stronger, not so angular. In addition, more parts will make the design more complicated and as for me more beautiful.

It was also necessary to rethink the system of fastening parts together. For this, I decided to develop a special clip that wouldmake “a click” to hold the two parts together.

The cardboard model was divided into 4 compartments, I decided to divide the plastic body frame into 5 compartments. Also, bulkheads between the compartments were heavily reworked, holes for lighting installation were added.

In order to connect the parts together I needed to develop plastic spring clips. The idea is this: the clamp must freely pass through two layers of plastic to expand on the other side. To do this, the clamp must be flexible, but at the same time be strong, securely connecting parts together.

In the course of working on it, I tried more than 20 options before it worked properly. Too thin locks broke at the first touch, thick ones broke due to the fact that they bent badly and didn’t want to fit in any way, but a suitable variant was finally found. It was possible to begin work on the tail blades.

With the empennage was a bit easier, its shape was easy to repeat from photographs and drawings. Installation on the ship also did not cause problems. It was necessary only to change four of the sixteen tail arcs, adding to them increased clamps. In addition, I developed a special hinge for the vertical tail blades. It will allow them to rotate in the range of 10-15 degrees.

Then I started drawing two parts for the open hatch on top of the airship for the release of warm air from the heated lamps and fasteners for electrical wiring inside the airship.

And here we are - all the drawings are ready, all connections are tested. We can start cutting plastic.

Step 5: Laser Cut

Cutting plastic did not cause any problems, but it took a lot of time. More than 700 parts for the erection work. All this needs to be cleaned from the protective cover-upand you can proceed to the erection work.

Finally, I cut out all the elements I need. I start to erect the nose of the airship and then add details until I assemble the ship completely. The first belt is put around one small ring, and then in turn down to the tail. A special hinge on the vertical lobes of the tail will allow changing their position, imitating the tail of a real airship. The erection work is quite easy due to special clamps, they securely fix all the parts in place.

Step 6: Paper Cover

Now we can proceed to the covering airship with paper. For this I will use tissue-paper. Unfortunately, I could not find enough long sheets of paper, and I would have to glue them together. For sticking paper, I will use double-sided tape, 3mm thick. I will glue them one by another - 16 sectors that form the outer surface of the airship.

To start I cut the paper into 3 inch wide strips. Then I glue the two strips together. Now glue the two strips of tape to the longitudinal edges of the airship, and fasten a long strip of paper on them. When the paper is fixed in the right place, cut off the excess paper and repeat all operations with the following sectors. The upper two sectors are not completely covered with paper. This was done on purpose so that the hot air from the lamps would have a place to go.

Now, when the airship is covered with paper, you need to pull the paper to remove the folds on it. The trick is to wet all paper quickly and evenly as possible. If you apply water too slowly and unevenly, then the paper will begin to tear and you will need to repeat everything from the very beginning. To quickly moisten the paper, I will use a spray bottle with an additional pump. It is able to release 1 liter of water in just seconds. I hope this is enough. Suspend the airship at one end, and quickly moisten with water.

Now we justneed to wait for the paper to dry.

Step 7: Final Assembly

In the meantime, you can do two caps, which will be installed at the beginning and end of the airship. I will make them from polystyrene. Firstly, I make cones that repeat the end and the beginning of the airship. Then, fixing a piece of polystyrene in a plywood frame, I put it in the oven and heat it to 140 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, polystyrene becomes soft and plastic. Now you can press the cone into the center of the frame with polystyrene.The plastic will exactly repeat the shape of the cone; you just need to wait a few minutes for it to cool. Now I cut off all unnecessary, grind and give final shape. It remains to cover the white matte paint. That's all, the parts of the airship are fully prepared, you only need to fasten the caps, install the socket for lamps and conduct the wiring.

The only thing that this airship lacks for it to become a lamp is the basis. For it, I used a 0.5-inch-thick walnut board. On a laser engraver, I cut the plywood according to the shape of the future base, then with a mill I copied the plywood form onto the board, added several acrylic parts imitating the airship hull, and installed hooks for the airship suspension. It now remains to install the base and hang the airship on it with the help of four small chains.

Step 8: Final Photos

And finally, all the work is over. Looking at my product and remembering all the work done, I felt pleasant fatigue in my body and satisfaction in my soul. At such moments, you realize that you can achieve anything. The main thing is not to give up all dreams, and the images of childhood can be realized in adult life and, as I believe, quite successfully. I am happy to answer all your questions.

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    8 Discussions

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    Rituguptascs

    3 months ago on Introduction

    For a second there I thought it was a surfboard! But I reckon that kids who like this sort of blimp would find it pretty cool!

    This gives me the idea of building a similar lamp but of different vehicles. I reckon the kids would be amazed with a UFO on their ceiling lighting up through the night amidst an ocean of stars.

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    karlbamforth

    4 months ago

    Excellent project. Love it.

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    jessyratfink

    4 months ago

    That is stunning! It's so delicate looking for its size :)

    1 reply
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    alexey.podorozhniyjessyratfink

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thank you, Jessie. What a difficulty it was to collect all 700 parts together, sometimes I was even afraid to breathe on the airship. But everything turned out and the work is finished.