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#60462 - 02/22/06 04:23 AM Re: Survival Balloon?

Just keep safety in mind. A balloon could be used as a high signal panel if tethered to the ground. Just remember that if it's raining, wet string will conduct electricity, i.e. lightning. If you are using a wire tether as a radio antenna, be aware that clear air lightning strikes have been known to happen. Rather than toting a tank of compressed helium, I was thinking of producing hydrogen by a chemical method. I haven't got the details worked out yet, but I'm thinking that a metal & a powdered acid could work (you add a little water to activate). Any chemists in the forum?

#60463 - 02/22/06 06:18 AM Re: Survival Balloon?
massacre Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 781
Loc: Central Illinois
There are several ways to produce hydrogen without too much hassle. Perhaps the simplest and easiest to acquire is putting electrodes into saline solution. A battery and salt water. Doesn't get much simpler. Actually plain water will do or you'll get chlorine on the O2 electrode if using salt.

Iron and low concentration sulfuric acid will do the trick as well. You can use calcium hydride and water, but that's not as easy to get nor as safe as either of the 2 above, I'd say.

Collecting the pure gas and putting it in a baloon in a field expedient manner may prove troublesome, however. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I remember one very stressful final when I saw my chem prof running a battery through water. The electrodes were directly under an bottled filled with water and wraped with electrical tape. The gases displaced the water in the bottle forming a very pure ratio of 2 parts H and 1 part O. Funny, but when you hold said mixture in front of a bunson burner it causes the most unforgetable bang when the gasses reform into water. It's like a canon going off in a confined space. I'm just happy I had the test finished and saw it coming. Everyone else about soiled themselves on the spot.

That reminds me, I think there's a water filtration device that basically creates it's own chlorine in the manner described. Using a primer of some highly saline solution - capfull of water and a salt pill - and a quick zap of electricity, you get a whole lot of chlorine - useful for purifying water.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#60464 - 02/27/06 08:21 PM Re: Up with the Airliners!
ScottRezaLogan Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 01/07/04
Posts: 723
Loc: Pttsbg SWestern Pa USA N-Amer....
Concerning the links you have given, -I especially recommend the second one. I believe that it best conveys the Accurate picture by far! And does the best job of Myths Dispelling. Such Myths and Inaccuracies are prevalent enuff in your first link. Even so, I think that it too, is often pretty good.

Within that second link, -Especially as well refer to the "External Links" section at the bottom of the page. Here I especially recommend the following two, -"The Official Site of 'the Lawn Chair Pilot' ", -and "Snopes.com 'Up Up and Away' ".

For all of these specific URLs in themself, -go to these sources. (Small Errors could exist in my description here).

Again, -I feel that these are Far Better concerning the Accuracy of this topic, -than your first link, -Good though it also is!

Beginning last week at our original postings, -I've just become a Larry Walters and Kevin Walsh Buff! Add that to D. B. Cooper. [color:"black"] [/color] [email]massacre[/email]
"No Substitute for Victory!"and"You Can't be a Beacon if your Light Don't Shine!"-Gen. Douglass MacArthur and Donna Fargo.

#60465 - 02/27/06 09:08 PM Re: Survival Balloon?
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Did someone call a chemist?

The Germans filled there airships with hydrogen (they very limited amounts of helium) by reacting iron with HCl (hydrochloric acid) and/or sulfuric acid. To calculate the amount of hydrogen you'll produce you need to know the concentration of the acid in "moles". For every one mole of HCl you'll get 1/2 mole of hydrogen gas. For each mole of sulfuric acid you'll get one mole of hydrogen gas.

The next step is calculating the number of moles of hydrogen gas needed to fill a volume. The equation there is V=nRT / P where
V = volume in liters
T = temperature in Kelvin (75 F = 297 K)
P = pressure in atmospheres (atm)
n = moles of hydrogen gas (mole)
R = Universal gas constant = 0.08206 L*atm/mole*K)

So, on a nice day let's say you want to fill a 55-gal drum with hydrogen. 55 gallons is equal to 208 liters, the temperature outside is a pleasent 75 F and there are no hurricanes in the forcast so the barometric pressure equals 1 atmosphere. This makes your equation:
n = PV / RT

n = [1 atm*208 L] / [(0.08206 L*atm/mole*K)* 297K]

n = 8.5 moles hydrogen gas

Calculating the amount of acid required to produce this many moles of hydrogen gas is being left to the reader, however you can PM me if you want detailed calculations.

Um, it goes without saying that you shouldn't be smoking while attempting this.

-Mark, who still claims the ten years of college wasn't a waste. <img src="/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#60466 - 02/27/06 10:14 PM Re: Survival Balloon?
massacre Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 781
Loc: Central Illinois
To continue the chemistry lesson:

A mole is an expression of a specific number of particles. Since Atoms are so tiny, to humans doing any sort of significant calculation, we need something a bit more tangible. 1 Mole is defined as 6.023 X 10^23 particles (this can be atoms or molecules which are combinates of atoms). It is also equal to the formula mass of a substance expressed in grams. For example:

1 mole of H2O = 6.023 X 1023 molecules of H2O = 18 grams H2O

So, for chemistry, you want to know both the physical weight and the numeric count of those atoms. You want to be able to count out the atoms by tare weight since you cant really pick them out individually except in high-end research.

It's not much different from saying, I know that there are a dozen eggs in a standard carton, and based on that number can calculate what those dozen eggs weigh if I know how much an egg weighs. A mole would be the count and in our case, the weight of an atom is MUCH more predictable than the weight of any given egg, so we can calculate it's weight to a high degree of certainty.

H2SO4 is the formula you want for sulfuric acid

The mass of H2SO4 can be calculated by the atomic weight of its constituent atoms.
2 x 1.00794 (Hydrogen)
1 x 32.065 (Sulfur)
4 x 15.9994 (Oxygen)

Thus 98grams. It just so happens that those thoughtful people who brought you the periodic table of the elements also brought you the weight in grams of 1 mole of each atom. That's what that strange number with all the decimal places is.

So, 1mole H2SO4 = ~98.1g H2SO4

Neat huh?

Blast already told you that you need 8.5 moles of H2 to fill a 55gal drum (volume by liters) and that H2SO4 gives off 1 mole of hydrogen gas.

So 8.5 moles of H2 are produced by reacting 8.5 moles of sulfuric acid with iron under nominal conditions.

You have the weight of H2So4, so you multiply it by the number of moles needed.

You get 833g or .833kg

Not bad for a pound and a half of acid.

Haven't touched on the iron side of the equation yet, but the SO4 reacts on a 1:1 basis with Fe. So you'll need the same number of moles of pure (non-oxidized) iron.

Oh, and H2SO4 has a relative density of 1.8 compared to water (1.0). This oily looking acid (oil of vitriol is it's ancient name) has a density of 1.83kg/L at a 17.6molar (near 100%) concentration. I don't recommend carrying a half liter of full concentration Sulfuric Acid under any circumstances. But I can think of a ready source of H2SO4 when traveling. Make sure to bring some steel wool and use it with a different kind of battery (9V for starting a fire and 12V for the balloon) *wink*

So, how much iron will you need to fill that drum?
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#60467 - 02/28/06 04:11 AM Re: Survival Balloon?
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
And yet we still can't find a way to fix the boat and get off this damn island! <img src="/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#60468 - 02/28/06 04:52 AM Re: Survival Balloon?
massacre Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 781
Loc: Central Illinois
The stupid professor should have had the captain losing a few extra pounds adzing boards and gilligan making pitch in a homemade kiln. They could have repaired the Minnow or built a new boat.

Professor my a**.
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.

#272996 - 11/23/14 08:16 AM Re: Survival Balloon? - "Rescue Me Balloon" [Re: bones]
rafowell Offline

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: bones

Location Marker Balloon

Developed for the UK MOD, the BCB location marker balloon is a bespoke product designed to meet exacting military requirements.The balloon's primary function is as a visual beacon for helicopter pilots extracting personnel from dense jungle. The balloon floats above the canopy creating a radar signature and can be fitted with light discs (see below) for low light / night time operations. The smallest and lightest product of its kind available today.

136 litre radar reflective balloon
75m (250ft) teather line
Flow regulated valve
Can be operated in minutes
Non-flammable / non-toxic helium gas
Vacuum sealed
Length: 35.1cm (13.5")
Max diameter: 8.06cm (3.1")
Max operation time: 120 hours
Weight: 1.6 Kg (3.5lb)
NSN: 4240-99-366-5580

The URL seems to have moved here: BCB Marker Balloon
This Fox News report says the price is "under $300".
The "Rescue Me Balloon" people are trying to get their product started, claiming a price point of under $50 for their emergency signaling balloon / rescue balloon.

Their Kickstarter campaign is here: Rescue Me Balloon at Kickstarter

Here's their youtube video (also on the Kickstarter page):

and another version:

and their website: http://www.rescuemeballoon.org/
A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB) (Ocean Signal PLB)

#272997 - 11/23/14 08:26 AM Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Southern California
I did some research, and there has been a lot of thought put into emergency signaling balloons - there are nearly 100 US patents on various facets of the idea (mainly expired), with the first one in 1906!

Here's what I found. If you organized all this material, you'd easily have enough for a book! And I'm sure I didn't get everything - the foreign patent coverage, in particular, is pretty "hit or miss".

http://www.google.com/patents/US827350 (1906!) #
https://www.google.com/patents/US2398744 Sea Rescue balloon
http://www.google.com/patents/US2409166 (for searchers, colored)
http://www.google.com/patents/US2629115 (LIGHT: Distress balloon with flashlights
http://www.google.com/patents/US2646019 (LIGHT: signal balloon, compact, on person, fluorescent or luminescent)
http://www.google.com/patents/US2619303 (LIGHT: cited by patent US4787575 for hunters: illuminated balloon, radar reflective)
http://www.google.com/patents/US2842090 (with smoke)
http://www.google.com/patents/US2862531 (lost sportsman)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3002490 (bright color, reflective disk, flag)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3049227 (survival kit with breath-inflated balloons)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3132626 (carried by hunter )
http://www.google.com/patents/US3154050 (person in distress)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3181158 (distress balloon lofts radar reflector, tether acts as distress radio antenna)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3187712 (fluorescent balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3253573 (appears to show light (108))
https://www.google.com/patents/US3395877 (visible to rescue aircraft )
http://www.google.com/patents/US3461835 (rescue work at sea, water activated sodium borohydride)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3471854 (on the person of an outdoorsman personal rescue aid - balloon and flashing light)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3187712 (Fluorescent balloon for distress)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3526202 (with light: helium balloon, electrically illuminated, oscillating reflectors)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3592157 (Illuminated balloon for distress)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3604001 (balloon for rescuing downed pilots - optical corner reflectors <yeah!>)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3721983 (balloon for hunters in distress, illuminated, brightly colored, radar reflective)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3796181 (lost or help balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3929091 (drawing attention to persons in danger)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3941079 (canister for hiker lost or injured, bright colored balloon with radar/optical reflective foil)
http://www.google.com/patents/US3964427 (injured hunters)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4013035 (people lost, radar reflective, daylight fluorescing balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4020786 (people lost in forests)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4042882 (distressed person, radio transmitter)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4052955 (a person who is lost, smoke, "SOS")
http://www.google.com/patents/US4044711 (distressed hunters balloon helium/hydrogen, "SOS", distinctive color, radar reflective)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4094267 (distress injured hiker red/orange helium balloon "HELP" both sides)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4102296 (balloon lighter than air, radar retroreflector, safety device)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4123987 (distress balloon with reflective metallic, transmitter)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4178867 (LIGHT: cited by US 4787575 with light - claim 4)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4120259 (Res-Q-Devices, lighter than air balloon, hydrogen generator)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4219819 (lost overboard, lighter than air balloon, IR emitter, radio transmittor, radar reflect)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4416433 (LIGHT: cited by US4787575 lost hunters signalling light, strobe light)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4586456 (LIGHT: lost hunting lighter than air balloon, canister, "a lamp for illuminating the balloon")
http://www.google.com/patents/US4696252 (hunter injured distress helium balloon radar reflective streamers)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4697706 (hikers helium balloon life spotting package international orange helical reflective stripe)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4722498 (injured hiker)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4787575 (LIGHT (cited by US6523778) Signal Balloon device to locate a person in distress)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4800835 (distress balloon, radar reflecting)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4815677 (distress emergency locator balloon helium, radar strips)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4836128 (lost backpacker)
https://www.google.com/patents/US4872414 ( emergency signal balloon, "CALL 911", hunters orange, reflective silver faceds
https://www.google.com/patents/US4884990 (LIGHT: luminescent balloon - cites "long felt need" in Chetlan 2,646,019
http://www.google.com/patents/US4901664 (survival kit signal balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4917041 (outdoorsman, LTA balloon, get help when an accident occurs)
http://www.google.com/patents/US4944242 (mylar helium rescue balloon, orange and reflective mylar surfaces)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5005513 (canister, hydrogen emergency signalling balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5007367 (distress signal balloon, helium)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5020467 (Balloon with "I NEED HELP"_
http://www.google.com/patents/US5095845 (reflective to sight and to radar - really nice forest picture )
http://www.google.com/patents/US5262768 (LIGHT: rescue beacon balloon with electric-powered flasher bulb)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5301631 (injured person one hand rescue balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5429244 (lost hiker, balloon, cartridge of LTA gas)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5582127 (CANISTER: Balloon in cylinder for lost person )
http://www.google.com/patents/US5838275 (LIGHT: for distress: balloon with light, radar retroreflector, transmitter)
http://www.google.com/patents/US5857760 (LIGHT: locating victims in the woods, lit by fiber optic cable - functional illumination (REFS)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6082287 (balloon distress signals - glow in the dark)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6164239 (lost or injured hikers, spins to flash)
https://www.google.com/patents/US6178915 LIGHT: halogen strobe light, balloon, helium, "HELP", light on upper extent of each balloon
http://www.google.com/patents/US6195039 (LIGHT: strobe light, balloon, transmitter, radar reflective, downed or ejected pilot)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6244209 (crowded prior art)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6359568 (balloon with "HELP" on it)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6386137 (crowded art)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6384764 ( rescue operations - radar detectable balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6523778 ( The Night Fun patent: Illuminated Emergency Signaling device and flying balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/US6805071 ( victim rescue balloon in canister)
http://www.google.com/patents/US7886682 (balloon and chemlights)
http://www.google.com/patents/US8356569 (persons in emergency)

Foreign patents & applications
https://www.google.com/patents/EP0012744A1 1980 rescue balloon
https://www.google.com/patents/CA1245914A1 1988 Signal balloon
http://www.google.com/patents/DE4445885A1?cl=en ( 1996 - locating lost people, balloon with flashing light, antenna, radar reflector)
http://www.google.com/patents/WO1979000954A1?cl=en (1979 - two complementary colors, with "HELP" on it)
http://www.google.com/patents/DE2903384A1?cl=en (1980 distress balloon)
https://www.google.com/patents/DE3317500A1 (1984 balloon a height above the surfer in difficulty
http://www.google.com/patents/WO1986006041A1?cl=en (1986 radar reflective distress balloon)
http://www.google.com/patents/EP0303491A2?cl=en (1989) radar reflecting)
https://www.google.com/patents/WO1989006845A1 (1989 distress balloon)
https://www.google.com/patents/CA2022738A1 (1990 rescue balloon with fluorescent paint for night sightings)
http://www.google.com/patents/WO1991015266A1?cl=en (1991)
https://www.google.com/patents/DE3931690A1 (1991) Signalling balloon with line acting as electrical lead for signal light or transmitter
http://www.google.com/patents/EP0581340A1?cl=en (1994 radar reflecting distress balloon, helium or hydrogen)
http://www.google.com/patents/DE3625812A1?cl=en (1988) Distress Balloon
http://www.google.com/patents/EP0324593A1?cl=en (1989)
http://www.google.com/patents/DE19622642A1?cl=en (1996)
https://www.google.com/patents/DE19631790A1 (1998: LIGHT: Helium balloon including SOS blinking light for night)
https://www.google.com/patents/DE20021350U1?cl=en (2001) LIGHT: Emergency signal balloon
http://www.google.com/patents/WO2002002401A1?cl=en (2001 - Night Fun)
http://www.google.com/patents/WO2004072920A1?cl=en (2003)
https://www.google.com/patents/DE202008008311U1 (2008) Rescue balloon
https://www.google.com/patents/CN201974889U (2011) Emergency help balloon
https://www.google.com/patents/CA2776511A1 (2012) LIGHT: Search and Rescue Balloon - LED light inside blinks SOS
https://www.google.com/patents/US20130291787 (2013) LIGHT: Illuminated Emergency Notification Balloon
aircraft crash balloon:
http://www.google.com/patents/US4048565 ( LIGHT - cited by US6523778)
lit balloons:
========= misc
FR 2 372 075 discloses a helium filled distress balloon whose altitude is stabilized using air, and which is fitted with a transmitter.
https://www.google.com/patents/US20060231012 2006 Application - signal balloon with streamers
https://www.google.com/patents/US20110092257 helium lift antenna
https://www.google.com/patents/US3425390 Boat emergency signal balloon

https://www.google.com/patents/USD310641 1990: Package of rescue balloon kits
https://www.google.com/patents/USD313767 1991: Inflatable distress balloon kit
https://www.google.com/patents/USD335468 1993: Balloon distress signal kit
https://www.google.com/patents/USD332578 1993: Inflatable distress balloon kit
https://www.google.com/patents/USD353344 1994: Helium inflatable distress balloon
https://www.google.com/patents/USD476589 2003: LTA Survival Balloon, says "HELP".
U.S. Design Pat. No. Des. 335,468 to Cumming discloses a Balloon Distress Signal Kit.
A signal mirror should backup a radio distress signal, like a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB) (Ocean Signal PLB)

#272999 - 11/23/14 12:14 PM Re: Lots of ideas for emergency signaling balloons [Re: Anonymous]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2531
Loc: Big Sky Country
Wow! Lots of activity! I'll check out the kickstarter link tomorrow.
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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