fiber optic balloons

Alright so I had an idea of having white balloons floating in the sky with a rgb led in it to make it change colors. Depending on the height of the balloon I can foresee IR losses cropping up. So instead of putting the led in the balloon I was thinking on running fiber optic up to it.

Does anyone have recommendations on what type of fiber to use and what would be the best way to drive it? I want to have multiple lengths from 20ft to 500ft. Could I just use single mode jacketed fiber with an led shining on one end?

Thanks in advance!


I was trying to figure out why infra-red losses would be a factor and then I figured out that you meant resistive voltage loss. XD Since the resistance of a given bit of wire is reasonably constant, you can deal with that by increasing the supply voltage to produce whatever voltage you need at the far end. Hundreds of feet of copper wire will be quite heavy, but so will hundreds of feet of fibre optic.


Not sure about the ins and outs of your project but ou ain't going to float 500ft of fibre very well as at that lengths it will get heavy for a balloon.

I had planned on using larger balloons depending on the needed lift. Maybe a specially made balloon is required i'm not sure, but I'm sure it can be done.

Last year I’ve been playing with hot air solar balloons. Can barely lift a Nano with GPS. I like your idea better.
Why not aim a laser at it instead?

Or maybe a laser mounted on a servo that automatically tracks the balloon?
or use something other than ir although ir is probably the lightest for that distance, anything else may need a bigger battery
but then again the only way to get signal farther is with more power, either the same power ultra concentrated in a laser or just an actual wireless rf solution
why not have the controlling board on the balloon itself? Do you need to change it midflight?

Well lasers at a balloon be cool but it would be an uber challange to track a bunch of balloons with even the slightest amount of wind. I guess what I'm looking for is the right type of fiber optic and coupling method with a high powered led in which I can control with an arduino. Possibly just regular ol' single jacketed network fiber optic. I'll just have to experiment with different types of balloons and fiber optic cables.

Maybe an idea for them if there's alot would be to get a decent high power transciever on one that would broadcast lower power comms to the rest of the balloons, while receiving commands from the ground for it and the rest

If you get the baloon to lift the fiber, you need some kind of diffuser for the tiny little dot of light coming out of the fiber

Which is heavier, 100m of fiber, or a watch battery and Nano?

sbright33: Which is heavier, 100m of fiber, or a watch battery and Nano?

I dunno, they got some pretty big watch batteries out there. =P

I think some kind of radio communication would be the best way to go, even with a "large balloon" Cause theres no way you could lead any kind of signal wire up 500ft to a balloon unless you were going for something truly massive.

The newer xbees can reach over a mile range IIRC, and they're mad easy to use, though they are a bit power heavy if you were gonna run off a watch battery. Though, how big is this balloon gonna be.

MikMo: If you get the baloon to lift the fiber, you need some kind of diffuser for the tiny little dot of light coming out of the fiber

Good point, this might be an issue, it might not.

I'm going to start small and scale up. I have these 3watt rgb leds hooked up to a constant current source circuit that is connected to a tlc5940 > arduino that I have been using but not sure what the best way to couple it. Right now I have pen shaft glued to the led to channel in side emitting fiber optic but i'm not sure how it will work with the smaller diameter jacketed fiber.

I got a bunch of 3ft white latex balloons but the 3mm fiber is not lighting it up. The thicker latex might not be transparent enough. I think I'll just try putting a blinky led in it for the moment.