18-Jun-2010
photos by jwz


Look at my Zeppelin. My zeppelin is amazing.

The kit is by Aerobase, and I got it at New People in Japantown.

It wasn't that complicated to build, except for the fact that it's so incredibly tiny. It's only about 9" long, so the act of assembling it closely resembled threading a needle several hundred times. (It was way simpler than the ornithopter!)

It took me a while, though, because I couldn't stand to work on it for more than an hour at a time. I had to build it while looking through a magnifying glass, meaning I could only see it through one eye, and after a while the lack of depth perception would start to drive me batty.


What building it looked like.

That hypothetical needle I mentioned, for scale.

Cutting the pieces out of the sheets and trimming off the flash was also challenging. Looking at my tiny scissors under such intense magnification made me feel like I was trying to cut plywood with cinder blocks. What I formerly thought were sharp objects looked like rough, round-edged blocks. All those rough edges and flashing that I could see under magnification are completely invisible to the naked eye. But I know they're there.

A couple of times I made the mistake of trying to bend something over with my finger, only to realize the hard way that the thing I was pushing down on was actually as sharp as a sewing needle, despite looking nice and round up close. Then I'd stop bleeding and use the tweezers next time.

I think the hardest part was applying the glue. There are only a few spots that needed glue, but they were of course very tiny. So I'd mix up some epoxy, and then try to pick up the smallest-possible blob of it with the tip of an xacto knife, and then transfer that from the knife to the model without making a big smeared mess on everything. At these scales, the glue was like bread dough.

These look a little sloppy, but that engine pod is only about 4mm long:

So that was fun. If only it flew!