featured sponsor:
The Balloon Council



EIS Flyer

EIS Flyer Balloon Car

Entry # Driver Name Car Name Mass
Distance Traveled
Running Time
1 31 Homer Hummel EIS Flyer 109 19 12 3.5 11.50 10.12

Balloon car designer Homer Hummel writes:

The design of my balloon car is a very simple air rocket approach. It has a triangular frame with three wheels, two leading, one trailing. Until the last week before the contest, I had a couple of air motor designs, which I had to drop due to lack of time (I realized that I already had a life outside of JPL).

The frame is constructed of tubes made of ordinary 8 _ by 11 inch recycled copy paper, rolled and glued (unique in this contest?). The axles are piano wire. The wheels were fabricated from an aluminum yardstick using a hacksaw, file and drill. Nylon bushings were used in the wheels.

Lessons learned: Make it lighter. I used a whole sheet of paper per tube, when less than a whole sheet would have been sufficient (the cylinder is a very strong structural shape). Use better wheel bearings. And there must be a simpler way to make wheels!

It seemed to me that some of the better entries could have benefited from some sort of radio-controlled steering, though this may have violated the rules.

There appeared to be two major classes of entries: 1) air-filled balloon and 2) stretched or twisted balloon. It would be interesting to see category ranking in each class.

I would like to see a mass X distance product ranking (and prize) as suggested by Mark Balzer (had Dream Roller entry). It seems to me that this would say more about how well the car was designed, than how well the design was implemented.

One of the most exciting parts of this contest for me, was just thinking about different design approaches, given the wide-open rules.

Congratulations to the winners and kudos to Paul MacNeal and all those who helped him put on this contest. This contest was lots of fun; let's have this again, Paul.

MB 1/9/99