Thursday, October 25, 2007

Airship Progress: The Boiler Setup

This week has been rather stressful. My wife's family has been on alert for evacuation in San Diego (though thankfully they have not needed to evacuate), my Great Aunt broke her hip and had a heart attack, and my son has been ill all week. during all this, I found some time to test my boiler for my airship model.

The boiler is a test tube with a rubber stopper at the end. A tube will then be extended from there to the turbine buckets, and give the overall thrust. So, in order for this to work, I need to have both a lightweight engine with fuel source, and have a fuel source that is powerful enough to boil the water sufficiently.

Luckily, we have some old chaffing fuel canisters handy, so I ran a test. I filled the test tube half way with water, and then held the tube over the fire from that chaffing fire. The water started to boil within a minute. Success! But does it have enough power to push a turbine?

I conducted another test, using the rubber stopper. I filled the water up again, and then put the stopper at the end. There isn't currently a hole in the end for the tube, so I wanted to see if enough power could be built to blow the end off. I had hoped that it would pop to the end of the counter, but instead it popped clear across the room! That was really exciting. Enough power can be built with the boiler to move the airship. Now, I just need to build the gondola of the airship, the turbine and propeller, and the bladder for the helium. Of course, that will be after my prototype has been built (a hot air version).

Why a hot air version? Because it's currently cold enough in West Valley to support a hot air balloon, it's easier to afford because of the cost of the helium, and there is enough hot air from the chaffing fuel to create some lift. Once I test it out, then I will make the helium version.

Yay! I'm on to step three!

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