Blimp Event at Championship

I am looking for some FRC grads that are in college that might be interested in beta-testing a blimp competition at the FIRST Championship this year. I had this in a different thread earlier, but relocated it to this thread where it is more applicable.

Some video of the platform can be found at one of the competing team’s Blogs.

The event involves programming a custom circuit board attached to a small blimp to achieve a series of competition tasks. The platform that will be used by the university based teams is the BlimpDuino, a very low cost open source autonomous blimp. BlimpDuino consists of an Arduino-based blimp controller board with on-board infrared and ultrasonic sensors and an interface for an optional RC mode, a simple gondola with two vectoring (tilting) differential thrusters, and ground-based infrared beacon. The history of the project is detailed at the project sponsor’s web site ( BlimpDuino Project

The project is the brainchild of Wired magazine’s Chris Anderson who attended last year’s Championship where he convinced Dean to try blimps at this year’s event. Chris was impressed by his 2008 visit to the Championship and made a detailed record of his experience. The project is open source, and uses the Arduino microprocessor which was detailed in a recent issue of Wired Magazine.

Twelve teams, comprised of university faculty, staff and students, are currently being recruited to compete at the April event as a component of the FIRST Championship. Each team will be provided, at no cost, with the blimp control board, motors, sensors, IR transmitter, and blimp envelope, as well as the programming code for the system. Teams would need to cover their transportation and housing costs for the competition.

The competition will consist of a series of five tasks that test the team’s ability to achieve optimum performance in autonomous and manual control. Details of the competition will be forwarded to the competing teams. It is envisioned that the full set of competition guidelines will be developed in collaboration with the competitors as an open source dialog.

The project is meant to be very achievable and I would expect FRC grads to be able to put up a good showing at the event with as little as a week or so working with the blimp kit.

If anyone is interested in being one of the twelve teams, please contact me (vincent.wilczynski AT, or via PM) for more information. The blimp kits are available and will be shipped to teams that commit to attending the April event. For those at the Championship, the blimps will be in the Pits on FRI and move the Georgia Dome for the SAT event while the FRC Divisional matches are taking place.