Loss Proof High Altitude Weather Ballon!

Hey everyone!

I am looking to build a HIGH ALTITUDE (Near Space) Arduino Weather Balloon. This Balloon would contain an Arduino and a Camera, (To record AMAZING Near space shots!) as well as alot of room for other stuff!

Now. I am concerned about FINDING said balloon. It would be TERRIBLE is I lost the footage to a tall tree or the Atlantic Ocean.

SO. Rather than having a GPS to retrieve the balloon, I am thinking about picture sending BACK to a ground control. So that if I was unable to retrieve the craft, I would still be able to have MANY NEAR SPACE pictures sent BACK to ground control.

This balloon would be LOSS PROOF! While I may not recover the hardware of the craft, I would have MANY NEAR-SPACE images sent back to ground control.

How could I take and SEND such images back to ground control? Also, since the craft IS in the Stratosphere, I would not need these images to be sent in real time. The craft could launch, take pics, parachute down, land, THEN start sending a stream of images back to ground control. (Because sending images WHILE in the uper atmosphere may be a little ambitious! :confused: )

ANY HELP WOULD BE SOOOO AWESOME!

WesleyRTech: Hey everyone!

I am looking to build a HIGH ALTITUDE (Near Space) Arduino Weather Balloon. This Balloon would contain an Arduino and a Camera, (To record AMAZING Near space shots!) as well as alot of room for other stuff!

Now. I am concerned about FINDING said balloon. It would be TERRIBLE is I lost the footage to a tall tree or the Atlantic Ocean.

SO. Rather than having a GPS to retrieve the balloon, I am thinking about picture sending BACK to a ground control. So that if I was unable to retrieve the craft, I would still be able to have MANY NEAR SPACE pictures sent BACK to ground control.

This balloon would be LOSS PROOF! While I may not recover the hardware of the craft, I would have MANY NEAR-SPACE images sent back to ground control.

How could I take and SEND such images back to ground control? Also, since the craft IS in the Stratosphere, I would not need these images to be sent in real time. The craft could launch, take pics, parachute down, land, THEN start sending a stream of images back to ground control. (Because sending images WHILE in the uper atmosphere may be a little ambitious! :confused: )

ANY HELP WOULD BE SOOOO AWESOME!

But if the balloon lands, it could have an on-board GPS that you could use to find it. When our ASCEND project launches near the end of last month that is exactly what they are going to do. They are putting one of those Sparkfun Iridium phone modules on board to facilitate communication with the payload.

Well, work out how many pictures you need, what size the pictures are and how long you have to transmit them. That will give you the baud rate required. Then find a telmetry system which will do that baud rate.

The kinds of distances you are working with on these balloons is outside the range of all the cheap ISM band units. You simply can't get those distances for ground-based antennas due to the curvature of the earth, so longer ranges are rare.

MorganS: Well, work out how many pictures you need, what size the pictures are and how long you have to transmit them. That will give you the baud rate required. Then find a telmetry system which will do that baud rate.

The kinds of distances you are working with on these balloons is outside the range of all the cheap ISM band units. You simply can't get those distances for ground-based antennas due to the curvature of the earth, so longer ranges are rare.

I don't understand altitude based issues with connection. Terrestrially based radios that easily exceed 10 miles on the ground failed above 45000 feet in our last experiment. Anyone have an explanation/rationalization?

ChrisTenone: I don't understand altitude based issues with connection. Terrestrially based radios that easily exceed 10 miles on the ground failed above 45000 feet in our last experiment. Anyone have an explanation/rationalization?

it is not distance, but speed. what mode of transmission would you use to send the data back to the receiver. taking the photos is the highest priority. sending them back the lowest. getting the photos, by whatever means is paramount. getting the craft, not so much.

[op's, you asked about why on the horizontal, a radio wave can be received 10 miles away, but in the vertical, it would not go 8 miles. tropopause/troposphere boundary issues ?

I have a different issue. the balloon is disposable and will be lost. it is not even close to a loss proof ballon. the OP mixes up the words when I think he means loss proof data.

Ok. So. Once the craft lands, could I transmit the photos using SMS (Text Message)

Go up> Take Photos> Land (Or low altitude) > Insert Photos into SMS message> Send Photos to my Phone Number

OR… could I encode photos to TEXT (Remember, photos must be of DECENT quality. Nothing HD, but not blurry!) Like this:

Go up> Take Photos> Land (Or low altitude) > Encode photos to Serial Text> Insert text into SMS message> Send text to my Phone Number > Use another Arduino to Decode text to image

Would SMS even WORK for what I need to do? (The craft would have to land in a Cellular Provided Network… Right?

Jettison and parachute land the instrument package.

MorganS: You simply can't get those distances for ground-based antennas due to the curvature of the earth, so longer ranges are rare.

At an altitude of 45,000 feet, your line of sight to the horizon is 300 miles.

aarg: At an altitude of 45,000 feet, your line of sight to the horizon is 300 miles.

So then your saying I could use RADIO transmission to send the image telemetry back to ground?

Yup, just like NASA.

But I thought that radio had to be within line of sight… oh wait…

aarg:
At an altitude of 45,000 feet, your line of sight to the horizon is 300 miles.

So I could have radio telemetry sent to ground within a diameter of 300 miles! (There is no possibility that on a calm day my balloon will EXCEED 300 miles… right?)

But, could I send my Near Space IMAGES using Radio Telemetry? (Also, I would have to send at the peak of flight to be within that 300 mile line of sight.)

You could use a standard rescue beacon using satellite.

Recovery/rescue charges could be somewhat high though if you do not negotiate first.

Ameteurs have satellites, perhaps a combination of gps reciever and ameteur band satellite tranciever would work.

GPS is good for 10 M or so, why use photographs.

Wait. I'm very confused. Won't the radio systems require some Legal authorization??? Also, I would only be able to transmit at peak, would there will be interference? (And I would not be able to capture the way down because the line of sight would end!)

Remember my SMS idea? (No, I am not abandoning radio, I would just like to hear an opinion on the SMS idea!) Could that work? What are problems with that? (Only send the SMS AFTER the craft lands!) The SMS could transmit GPS data, and Images. So I would like to hear thoughts on the SMS idea, as well as more detail about radio. I don't understand

Boardburner2: You could use a standard rescue beacon using satellite.

Recovery/rescue charges could be somewhat high though if you do not negotiate first.

Ameteurs have satellites, perhaps a combination of gps reciever and ameteur band satellite tranciever would work.

GPS is good for 10 M or so, why use photographs.

Remember, if the thing lands in a tree, GPS will be of no help removing the SD card filled with Data! So please provide some input about the SMS idea, and some more explanation of radio! Thanks SO much for all the help so far!

WesleyRTech: Wait. I'm very confused. Won't the radio systems require some Legal authorization???

Remember my SMS idea?

GPS receivers require no authorisation. Transmitting the signals using SMS or telephone does not either.

Both depend however of being in range of a telephone tower however and the range is small.

If the balloon comes down out of range of a tower then something else is needed.

Global satellite providers offer data solutions for that at cost.

Amateur satellite may be an alternative.

Flying balloons at these altitudes requires approvals of the appropriate authorities and NOTAM's being issued.

dave-in-nj: it is not distance, but speed. what mode of transmission would you use to send the data back to the receiver. ...

Next launch the kids are installing a Sparkfun Iridium phone module. I am not confident that it will be able to send much data, but since they have the money it's worth a try.

WesleyRTech:
But I thought that radio had to be within line of sight… oh wait…

So I could have radio telemetry sent to ground within a diameter of 300 miles! (There is no possibility that on a calm day my balloon will EXCEED 300 miles… right?)

But, could I send my Near Space IMAGES using Radio Telemetry? (Also, I would have to send at the peak of flight to be within that 300 mile line of sight.)

Yes, that’s what I was trying to say. If one antenna is high (on the balloon) then you can get enormous range. If both antennas are on the ground then the range is much shorter, which is why it’s rare to see “300 mines range” on a radio’s datasheet.

Your balloon could easily spend a couple of hours above 45,000ft, so there’s plenty of time to send images.

Once it crash-lands on the ground, could you be sure that it lands in an area with cellphone coverage? You also have a range problem - with the antenna altitude now just a few inches, you need the cellphone tower to be very close by.

ChrisTenone: Next launch the kids are installing a Sparkfun Iridium phone module. I am not confident that it will be able to send much data, but since they have the money it's worth a try.

That looks awesome! But... $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I rest my case. Is there anything similar out there for less?

MorganS: Yes, that's what I was trying to say. If one antenna is high (on the balloon) then you can get enormous range. If both antennas are on the ground then the range is much shorter, which is why it's rare to see "300 mines range" on a radio's datasheet.

Your balloon could easily spend a couple of hours above 45,000ft, so there's plenty of time to send images.

Once it crash-lands on the ground, could you be sure that it lands in an area with cellphone coverage? You also have a range problem - with the antenna altitude now just a few inches, you need the cellphone tower to be very close by.

As for the radio... WHOO HOO! Can you give me any suggestions on where to get the hardware for such a system? What would i be looking for? How would I code such a system? Could this transmit images as WELL AS GPS telemetry? Heck... could It transfer VIDEO???

As for the SMS stuff. If I launched this in my Suburban Town near NYC, would that count as "close" to a radio tower? (I stupidly thought this would be like a cell-phone, where you can get service nearly ANYWHERE. Now I see that an Arduino Mega is no iPhone 4S!)

Check with the FAA if you are planning a balloon launch. They have been very helpful with our project.

Boardburner2: Amateur satellite may be an alternative.

Use of the amateur satellite bands are not permitted for terrestrial use (including sub-orbital altitudes). The usual band that they use for balloons is the digital sliver of the 2 meter FM band, where APRS hangs out at 144.350MHz if I recall the frequency correctly. There are a lot of off the shelf devices like packet modems that will work well with a small transceiver and make a tiny, lightweight package. The existing amateur packet network will even repeat the signal if the balloon gets too far away. Satellite band equipment is heavy and expensive, no good for a balloon. It's been done quite often. But it's off limits unless someone on the project has a ham radio license.