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Digital Open Winners:

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Boing Boing teamed up with Institute for the Future and Sun Microsystems to create the Digital Open, an online tech expo for teens 17 and under around the world. Now, meet one of the winners. Eric Chin and I'm 16. Rebecca Xing and I'm 17. David Cao, I'm 17. Catherine Lu, 17. Raymond Zhong and I'm 17. So this year, we've just been working on this device. We have called it Skittles. Reason being is because the spine of helium balloons along the middle is very colorful. We went through a lot of names before we actually settled on Skittles. Or more precisely, I settled on Skittles, [laughter] and they just kind of like, came along with it. --Right. This is Skittles the Second. We were doing a routine, kind of, test flight outside of Raymond's house, but we didn't do any failsafes, and we were flying, and an updraft caught it and it flew away. Later on, we actually found out our device turned up about three hours' drive to the east. Two-thirds of the way to Yosemite already. [laughs] When we heard about how far it was, we basically looked at each other and said, "Road trip!" [all laughing] I'm the only one who can legally drive other people around, as of now. We initially started off with the idea that if we were to use an airship, it would have to be light. But the real weight determining was how much our electronics would weigh. And so we decided we would use two blimps, because we calculated the lift capacity and two was sufficient. And so then we proceeded to try to make everything else as light as possible. And so first we decided on carbon fiber for the frame. We decided on propellers for propulsion. And this is, basically, store-bought, small foam airplane motors here. We could not find a commercial speed controller that would suit our needs, in this case, being-- be able to run in reverse. And so we basically hand soldered, yes, the speed controllers, which are these guys up here. We used a standard LiPo battery... That's [unintelligible] there. And right now we're thinking about upgrading this. These two, up and down, control the motions of each individual propeller. And in this case, on the back we have a set of buttons. --We have vertical here, so up, down, basic left-right. I heard that just last week the US Army is gonna be deploying a hybrid airship to Afghanistan. It'll be saving lives, basically, because we don't have to send soldiers in. I think my piece of advice would be: It's your life, so do with it what you will, basically. Don't let anybody else control or dictate what you should do. And, please, do try this at home!

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 47 seconds
Year: 2009
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Boing Boing Video
Director: Boing Boing Video
Views: 250
Posted by: boingboing on Oct 14, 2009

Institute for the Future teamed up with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing to create the Digital Open, an online tech expo for global teens. In this video, you'll meet a winning team: "Hybrid Airship" by robotic blimp builders "The Funky Shiitake Mushrooms."

The Digital Open is a project of Institute for the Future, in partnership with Sun Microsystems and Boing Boing.

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