Throwing Pis into the Stratosphere

It’s always exciting to see the photos from High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) outings. While it’s no surprise that the Raspi is a popular choice—low cost, convenient USB jacks, etc.—this is the first build we’ve seen that uses an OLED during the trip to show real-time data on-screen to be picked up by the on-board webcam. (Though you may have to squint to see it at the bottom middle of the above image).

[Fabrice’s] payload made it to 26,000m, and the screen he chose, an ILSOFT OLED, performed admirably despite the extreme conditions suffered (temperatures can reach -50C). The last time we saw a near-space Raspi payload was a couple of years ago, when [Dave Akerman] was closing in on UK balloon altitude records. [Dave] hasn’t stopped launching balloons, either, testing new trackers and radio modules, as well as his most recent build that sent a Superman action figure to the skies—all recorded in glorious HD.

Check out both [Dave] and [Fabrice’s] blogs for loads of pictures documenting the latest in High Altitude Ballooning, and stay with us after the jump for a quick video of [Fabrice’s] OLED in action.

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High Altitude Balloon Keeps Going

Here’s a post from the AMSAT-UK high altitude balloon blog. It’s a great story about a balloon cruising at about 12km above the Earth completing its sixth circumnavigation of the planet. That post is from October 4th, and two weeks later the balloon is still going strong. Right now it’s over the Baltic heading into Russia with no sign of stopping or popping any time soon.

globeThe balloon was launched July 12, 2014 from Silverstone, UK. In the 100 days since then, this balloon has covered 144168 kilometers and has crossed its launching longitude six times. Even if this balloon weren’t trapped at high latitudes (including coming within 9 km of the pole), this balloon has still travelled more than three times the equatorial circumference of the Earth.

The balloon was built by [Leo Bodnar] a.k.a. [M0XER] with a self-made plastic foil envelope. The solar-powered payload weighs only 11 grams. It’s an exceptional accomplishment and one that has smashed all the amateur high altitude balloon distance records we can find.

Workshop 88 hosts a near space balloon contest

hackerspaces_in_space

Launching high-altitude balloons to take pictures of the Earth from space is great fun. Heck, even credit card commercials are now suggesting you cash in your rewards points to organize a space balloon adventure for you and your friends.

Capturing snapshots of the Earth from space is such a good time that Workshop 88, a hackerspace located in the Western suburbs of Chicago, is making a contest out of it. They recently kicked off their second annual “Hackerspaces in Space” competition, a contest to see who can build the best near space balloon for under $250. The contest pits individuals, groups, and hackerspaces against one another, assigning each team a score based on the performance of their high-flying rig.

The winner of the contest will have their design replicated by the crew at Workshop 88, who will then hand out the space balloon kits to randomly selected K-12 schools around the country.

If this sounds interesting, but a contest entry just isn’t in the cards, you can always support the kit distribution by funding their Kickstarter project here.

Play-by-play of a high altitude balloon flight

[Greg Intermaggio] and [Shumit DasGupta] at Techsplosion launched a high altitude balloon last week that climbed to 90,000 feet above sea level somewhere over California. The play-by-play of the flight is one of the better stories we’ve seen on high altitude balloon builds.

The balloon, christened VGER-1, carried a SPOT satellite GPS messanger to send telemetry back to the ground. We’ve seen a few home brew balloon tracking devices, but [Greg] decided to use an off-the-shelf solution for the sake of simplicity. Like other balloons the VGER-1 carried a CanonPowershot camera with CHDK firmware.

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Balloon based satellite

balloonsat

This project provides an opportunity to conduct near space experiments. The flight computer, BalloonSat Extreme, is controlled by a BASIC Stamp 2pe. The complete BOM with PCB artwork is provided. There is enough hardware to control cameras, servos, a Gps, and five digital I/O. The computer is also equipped with a 12 bit ADC to log experiment results. The device seems limited to 30KB of storage. Though the author suggests this memory limitation is more than adequate, we are wondering if an implementation of the Nyquist sampling theorem is in use at all. For further reading the author has provided information regarding Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning.

[via adafruit]