First of all, what I'm asking here is not trivial, I know. If it was, someone would have invented it before. Im looking for ideas to solve the problem.
The story: What I actually want is to measure wind on different levels, up to a few thousand feet. At the moment, we do this with a so called WindReader from the WindsWay (or so) company. This is a device mounted on a tripod with a monocular. We fill a balloon with a normed amount of helium and let it go. We follow this ballon by moving the monoculars and the device loggs this motion and calculates (actually a software on the PC) the wind directions and speeds. If it is early in the morning, we add a LED-Throwie (small LED and battery, we do not even try to retrieve them) to the balloon. Unfortunately, those devices cost a hell lot of money (I heard something about 10k) and only a few of them exist.
I was thinking about ways to measure winds, but sure is, we need to get something up there. I thought about drones or something similar, but something expensive always needs to be retrieved, and we're such in a hurry that there is no way waiting for the drone to come back. This also excludes a GPS attached to the balloon. So I'm back to this WindReader concept.
The known WindReader is quite a "simple" thing to rebuild. Mount monoculars on a two axis device, attach wheels to turn these axes and some gears, measure the time and numbers of turns and make the calculations. Let's forget about the calculations part for now, I do know this will be complicated, but not now
I am now thinking about something which does this fully automatically. And here I need your help. My ideas for now are: Add an IR-LED to the balloon and follow this with a sensor. Problems here will be that I guess there is no chance following this over some thousand feet and the sun also emits IR-rays which will overshine the LED during day. Another idea would be with a camera and object recognition (and a zooming lens of course), but I know this is beyond Arduino possibilities.
Does anyone have another idea? Or could help me find the right corner for the camera recognition part?
Every input is appreciated!