How to make your own solar balloon
That might sound like a pretty interesting, easy to do and awesome project for some of you guys, who always wanted to make some buzz in your little town one day. Actually, you can launch a big(its really up to you how big) UFO to fly over your neighbors heads and away for almost no price at all with this easy guide.
Soo.. Uhmm.. Solar balloon? What's that, huh? Well, we all know how does those perky hot air balloons work. Our new solar balloon will fly on the same principle, just we actually wont use any high-cost device to heat our air inside the balloon to lift it. Because we have sun, simple as that.
The launch of a solar worm by someone in Lithuania. Landzone: unknown ;)
Requirements and materials
There are only a few conditions your launching environment must meet. The first would be a sunny day. You can't make something starting with the word "solar" to work without solar power, can you? The air inside the balloon chills fairly quickly, so any greater cloud will pull your flying object back on the ground. Another and probably the last requirement I could think off right now would be wind. It's the best if there is no or only minor wind at the day of your launch. Remember, your balloon is really vulnerable, you will understand why when you'll get to the materials part.
- Polyethylene (For the body of your balloon. For the first time it's probably the best to use your trash bags, it's best to find as thin as possible ones.). If you're planning to make a really big balloon you'll probably want to order sheets of polyethylene from specialized shop. 18µm and 45 meters of length polyethylene sheet is used for a big solar worm in the video above.
- Scotch tape. You could also you some other kinds of tapes, but I find scotch tape at it's best here. Just avoid those heavy tapes like duct tape.
- Well..hm... that's probably it. The last thing you will need is a ballast to hold your balloon in right position. You could use anything for that like not fully filled coca-cola bottles or something.
Unleash your creativity
This should be the part which describes what exactly you should do step-by-step to make your own solar balloon. But, to be honest, there isn't anything to know here, just cut your trash bags into rectangular sheets and join them with your tape. I won't give you any schematics or something, because that would block your imagination a little bit in my opinion. If you're wondering about the shape of your balloon, then I'll answer - there aren't really any requirements for that, just use your imagination, you could build a worm type, like in the video above, or a traditional hot-air balloon shape, or a UFO shaped one. It's all up to you now. There are only few things to know about building and launching your balloon:
- Leave a hole at the bottom of your balloons' body. This is where the air will flow into your balloon. The hole should be around 1 and 3 inches wide(or 2cm and 7.5cm in metric). You will attach your ballast somewhere around this hole, so the hole will face the ground and won't let any air out. The weight depends on the size of your balloon, but I assure you it won't be heavy, you will have to experiment on your own at the site of your launch. The ballast should let your balloon fly, but it's idea is to hold the hole to look straight down.
- Filling your solar balloon with air. You could use a method of walking, like shown in the embedded video above, or you could use your imagination again, for example using an air fan would work. ;)
- Launching. After you somehow fill your solar toy with air, just turn its' hole to the ground and wait till the air inside heats up. Release and laugh now!