No matter whether you call them “picosatellites” or “high altitude balloons” or “spaceblimps”, launching your own electronics package into the air, collecting some high-altitude photos and data, and then picking the thing back up is a lot of fun. It’s also educational and inspirational. We’re guessing that 264 students from 30 high schools in Aguascalientes Mexico have new background screens on their laptops today thanks to the CatSat program (translated here by robots, and there’s also a video to check out below).
The package on each balloon was roughly similar — consisting of an Arduino with a custom shield, a GPS, accelerometer, temperature/humidity sensor, and a LoRA radio unit. (Full details on the technical page of the wiki — it looks like a great general-purpose setup.) Armed with this basic platform, the schools added cameras or built intricate capsules, or otherwise customized their payload, and then it was time to launch.
It must have been really fun to watch them go up, one after the other. And you can hardly overestimate how many young engineers or hackers an experience like this will create.
Thanks to [Andrés Sabas] for the tip, via El Heraldo.