Helium Balloon project [In AIR! picture on page2!]

Me and a friend of mine will send a digicam up in air with a heliumballoon. These are some of the tools that will be used. Also the camera that took this picture is used as payload!

A fishing line, on a trawlerrod(spelling), that is 274 meter long wired and ready for attatchment via the whole rod and then to a balloon. The fishing line is only edit 0.21* mm thick and withstands loads of 44 kilos. We are going to let the balloon rise and then take it back with the trawlerrod. The balloon will have a bit over one cubic meter of helium. As I’m also interested in flying RC planes, the RC-plane transmitter will act a miniservo on the payload along the camera to take pictures with the help of one of the levers on the transmitter. This project is something that I was thinking on since some 4 years ago. Until now I realised that if we want this done we better get all whats needed. 274 meters isn’t that impressively high altitude, but the flatlands of this country -you are amazed if you get pictures 20 meter above ground.


  • Mechanism with miniservo must take pictures with a digital camera via the RC transmitter

Things missing:

  • Miniservo (will get it real soon)
  • >1 m^3 Heliumballoon
  • Helium (not a problem)

I will post some altitude pics here! Watch this space…!

//me watching

Thanks for the offer.

Yeah, I’'d love to see that ballon fly, but don’t you guys have any mountains where you live?The higher the better don’t you think. May the source be with you

You can make hydrogen with a battery and water… much cheaper and easier to come by compared to helium, just don’t get it near flames/static. :wink:

I’ve seen people do this with kites too, why not that?

well learned shbaz, how do you get the unpressurized H2 in the balloon?

Actually the price of helium for this project is very reasonable for a small amont like this!
And hydrogen is very cheap, you don’t need to produce it yourself. That can be very very dangerous, even fatally dangerous. Producing hydrogen if you aren’t a chemist is not a good idea. NaCl is usually splitted in water and clorine is nothing I recommend! Breath a fraction of a percentage of clorine in air and you won’t make it. The smell of swimming pools is not healthy at all!

Kites, that could work! But even winds aren’t great here, despite the flatlands! But a great idea! My dad and his friends played with candles as a kid making plastic bags rise in air! Even the small hotcandle itself went away in the night lighting up the whole bag! He said it looked nice. I must try that! Have to watch out for a wildfire as he mentioned!

No, the “mountains” are like 40 meters above see at most, even there the trees are hiding the horizon. My friend just got a camera working with a servo, but a miniservo will be used instead. The ordinary servo is way too heavy. I’m also thinking of making a balloon myself. Don’t really know yet what material must be used. The shape should look like a zeppelin, as the back is always pointing against the wind making the shape cut air - you will have a balloon that isn’t sensitive to winds.


One electrode emits O2 and the other emits H2. You can tell because the volume of one will be twice as much as the other (that one is the hydrogen). I can’t remember whether it was the positive electrode or the negative that emitted hydrogen, but I set up a simple rig with two inverted test tubes (filled with water and an electrode in each) to figure it out. After that I filled a balloon with water and had both electrodes in it, didn’t need a lot of water, and it pressurized itself. Even with the O2 in there it was still lighter than air and I kind of… intentionally blew it up later. Wouldn’t have wanted to be close to it when that happened. Having the O2 in there with the H2 made it ten times more dangerous and I definately don’t recommend anyone do this, but if you do be very careful not to let the electrodes touch in or out of the water and disconnect the power before attempting to remove them.

shbaz, did you use platina as electrodes!? Did you use any H2SO4, sulphuracid in water or salt, NaCl? If any other metal than platina was used as electrodes it was not pure O2 there. But an oxide.

5 years ago I made with a friend a hot air balloon. We used a hot air source (candle) a hairdryer, a quite big very light bag, some ropes and a little light weight box to make it fly. It ook us 1,5 hour to fill the very big bag with a quite heavy load of hot air, lighted some candles, small oens, put them in the box, and released it. It flew like 20/40 meters high. When we thought yeah it’s gonna stay longer then 30 minutes in the air, a candle made the little rope or something, set in fire.

In just a few miliseconds Woeesssh, one big fireball. Some people saw it and where like, OMG a flying firebomb. Someone called the police, but when we told it was an expiriment to test if we could make a hot air ballon fly, he laughted and said, well be more careful next time :slight_smile:

It took like 2 minutes before the burning balloon came down, pretty slow for something that doesn’t have a lifting source anymore. But sure it was fun.
me and my friend did a lot of expiriments. We did that hot air balloon, tested mini moletof cocktails, made a wachinemachine soap bomb that exploded when it became wet, little airplane running on an elastic rope rotating it’s propellor, basilisk, real hand sized catapult, a technic lego crossbow, a long range grape shooter, suicide lego car rocket driving with a real fireworks rocket with a ramp :smiley: and a lot more.

Sure those things are great to test, be sure to post some photo’s when it’s in the air. :stuck_out_tongue:

I used copper and zinc electrodes in distilled water, the oxides are solids that cover the electrodes, not gasses.

I will! Just bought a miniservo and very lightweight accumulator! Soon we are going to make the camera take pictures. After that we know what it all weight, and we just need to add the weight to the balloonweight and get helium for that - a bit more too so it can rise!
Shbaz, I see. I guess your better at chemistry than I am! I just thought that the surface of oxides wont release O2. Hydrogen would be fine for this project actually, any detailed tips of how to safely produce hydrogen? Suppose you produce it straight into the balloon!


  • Mechanism with miniservo must take pictures with a digital camera via the RC transmitter

Things missing:

  • >1 m^3 Heliumballoon
  • Helium (not a problem)

Well, no, I’m not, I just know because I’ve done it and experimentally verified that one gas was twice as volumous as the other, and the electrodes corroded very fast. Every metal oxide I’ve ever heard of was a solid too. Chemistry isn’t my strong point, I made a B in the one class I’m required to take and that was plenty for me.

I’m not really sure how the disassociation works, each electrode emits a different gas and it’s a curious process. Does the oxygen disassociate from the water and the hydrogen gas magically jump across the gap? I don’t know… maybe there’s some intermediate acid created during the process. It’d just take a bit of experimenting to get the hydrogen straight into a balloon, I suppose.

Ok, I only know that destillated water does not allow current to flow. But when adding H2SO4 that makes water accept current. NaCl (ordinary salt) allows current also to flow, but that shouldn’t anyone test - poison. Platina don’t oxidate, but the price of platina is twice of gold. But it can be found in car catalysators, and on some platina ‘ignitionbulb’.

you don’t really need a servo, you could do it with a thing called ‘muscle memory wire’ that contracts when you introduce an electrical current. weighs much less than a servo too.

I said I used distilled water but really it was our drinking water which was microfiltered and processed by reverse osmosis, which is supposed to be just as good. Maybe that’s why it worked anyway.

I wonder how hard it would be to go grab all of the catalytic converters from a junkyard and purify the pallidium? You could even do pseudo-scientific nuclear reactions with it later!

Aha! Thanks, I got to look at that. However the servo I’m using weights about 10-15 gramms. :o But opening the camera would be good, then the reciever can directly be connected to the shutter - there are two states. First you focus by gently pressing, after that a picture is taken. Right now I’m going to my friend and try to make the servo work with the camera!

i did this with the james bond 007 stealth camera. it weighs nothing and can be set to take a picture automatically every minute. my biggest mistake in the first run was using many small balloons, the whole thing will be much more stable if you just have one big balloon. i’ll try to dig up a pic…

the 007 camera has only 640x480 res so the pictues aren’t great but it sure is a fun project…

others have done this before, you can find some info about this with a search on google or slashdot. one guy just let his balloon go with a gps homing device. it recorded all types of flight data and other cool stuff.

good luck with your project. i want to see some pics!

just an idea


Yes I googled this and ofcourse anything is tested! Someone actually sended a computer with linux and transmitted gps, webcam, temperature and pressure signals so he could track it! That’s the spirit! This is far more simple, but it is something to look forward to.
I’m sure interested in a picture! Keep digging!

lukus001, Great stuff! I like the first one! Howevering around in house would be cool-