Signal Fish Tutorial: Constructing the rig

Version 5

    Our rig is constructed of several custom 3D printed parts. We went through several designs, tested things out, experimenting with different sizes and shapes. You can print out our rig using the 3D files we used to create ours. You can find the resources to all of our printed material at the end of this tutorial.

    When we started, we had many ideas as to how we wanted our balloon to fly. To get our creativity flowing, we imagined several concepts as to how our final construction would look. Here’s an early rendering of how we imagined our Signal Fish when completed:


    When creating the concept designs, we weren’t aware of any of the implications of getting the balloon off of the ground. We simply wanted to explore the possibilities before getting into specifics. For example, the our early rendition was only symmetrical along the X-axis. We learned quickly that there was trouble with asymmetrical shapes. We ended up keeping two axes symmetrical, and only had asymmetry along the Y-axis.

    Any envelope that is not vertically symmetrical will naturally want to orient itself so that the side with more helium is on top, so our early shape would have been very unstable as the larger bottom side would always want to try and move to the top. Also things like the weight of the rig, the size of the balloon, the amount of helium, and other factors all play into a successful flight.

    We also wanted each piece of the rig to be replaceable if necessary. In order to do this, the design for the platform needed to be able to snap on and off using interlocking pieces. We’ll first start with the most important part: the actual rig that will be holding all of the components for the Signal Fish.

    < Building a custom fishCircuit platform >

    Part 1: XBee configuration
    Part 2: Rig construction
    Part 3: Circuit