The NanoBlimp

Posted: January 24, 2013

Admittedly, when I think "dogfight", the next words that pop into my head aren't typically "helium balloons". However, I am learning to be more creatively minded. For example, I recently applied cream cheese to my all-beef frank*. So when I first heard about dogfighting with the NanoBlimp, a nearly weightless apparatus held aloft by a helium-filled balloon and guided by human thumbs on remote control, I committed to watching at least 15 seconds of its 2-minute video before writing it off as BS. What I found is that NanoBlimp dogfights are...

...a little BS. But not altogether un-fun looking to take part in. They move at the speed of my grandma after a few puffs of the peace pipe, but I'll grant that navigating them and taking one's enemy down does require an appreciable amount of focus and skill. And as always, when one of the balloons pops, the effect is both exhilarating and very scary.

The NanoBlimp itself comprises 3 tiny propellers with 3 RC motors that enable precision indoor flying. A small amount of weight is also added so that the airship can maintain neutral buoyancy, neither rising nor falling, but simply hovering in mid-air once a balloon is attached. Any standard latex, helium-filled balloon affixes aloft of the gondola with double-sided foam tape. The primary downside to the system in my critical, yet fair, mind is that its regular use requires an at-home helium tank to enable on-call balloon inflation.

NanoBlimp's Nano-X controller has 4 User Selectable Frequencies so that multiple dogfighters can fly en masse in the same room. It also includes 3 Mix Modes, 3 Mapping Settings, and Beginner and Exponential modes (? not sure if Exponential is a manufacturer's typo, and they really mean Expert, or if "to the power of" is truly their intended advanced user setting). A built-in charger comes on the remote for plugging the receiver into the transmitter's charge cord after flight.

*OK, what really happened is that the hot dog vendor misheard my request and smothered it in cream cheese by accident, but I ate it. Well, one bite of it anyway. The rest I threw back in his face.

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