Tethered Arduino Weather Balloon

I was think of doing a project where the arduino was attached to 10 helum filled water baloons. Tethered to the ground which transmits sensor data to another arduino on the ground. Please tell me if the are any problems with this project. Or if you have any questions.

Assuming you're in the US, if the tether is too long or you are too near an airport, the FAA has restrictions on what you can do without an FAA waiver. I assume other countries will have similar restrictions.

One large balloon (look at those at car lots) is better than several small ones for efficiency, but if the 10 party balloons will lift the payload, go for it. Don't forget the tether will be a significant part of the payload if you go very high.

I've flown Arduino-based hardware on balloons over 120,000', so they work just fine in the air (and even above most of it. :)

-j

Thanks so much. Now, should i use a radio transmitter or some kind of data logger? Yes i'm in the usa

That depends entirely on what you're trying to accomplish. We've done it both ways. Since we fly high altitude balloons we use ham radio gear for telemetry (mostly tracking, payload temp and battery health) because we can get much higher power and better range with the ham gear.

It's also common to use an EEPROM (see examples on the arduino site) or the VDIP module for datalogging. If you don't have too much data to log, you can save it to the Arduino processor's built-in EEPROM.

-j

Yes, ok if i didn't use a data logger can i have an lcd show the values recieved.

Sure, no reason why not, but you’ve got a lot of hardware to integrate and software to write to make it all work. If this is your first excursion into electronics, I’d start with a simpler wired version before going wireless (unless you use bluetooth), as wireless typically has a complete set of headaches all by itself.

-j

Okay.

Im thinking i might use these. http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=7813

As the cheapest out there, they are of course the most difficult to use. Check the forum (and maybe the playground) for info, as someone has done a lot of work to make a package to work with this type of device to make them easier to use.

-j

I've flown Arduino-based hardware on balloons over 120,000', so they work just fine in the air (and even above most of it. :)

-j

Wow, 6k more feet and you would have set a new amateur ballooning record (assuming you are an amateur). Any project logs or anything of that sort?

I'm very afraid of the tether breaking and sending 50$ of equipment into the sky. Is there any precautions i can take before doing this experiment.

Wow, 6k more feet and you would have set a new amateur ballooning record (assuming you are an amateur).

That one was on a NASA zero pressure balloon; we just built the payload. The HASP projects gets several academic (including student designed and built) payloads onto one of these each year. I just pitched in and helped an aerospace engineering student with some microcontroller glue for his sensors and the telemetry downlink. Got another one going up on this year's HASP in a few weeks.

I think the best we've done with a latex balloon is around 110k (can't find the record at the moment, I want to say something like 106k or 109k or maybe 112k).

-j

I’m very afraid of the tether breaking and sending 50$ of equipment into the sky. Is there any precautions i can take before doing this experiment.

I understand - our payloads are typically US$500 to $1000 to build. That includes a $200 tracker (sometimes two) so we can make sure we get the payload back. What’'s even more important to us than the equipment is getting the data, so it’s not all for nothing.

Make sure the tether line is rated for the load. This will include free lift plus the wind load.

Make sure you know the correct way to tie knots (e.g. this is one of the times it’s important to get a square knot instead of a granny knot).

Secure knots with a couple of half-hitches and a small piece of tape.

Make sure you fly a “backup recovery system” - a “reward, please call!” sign that includes your phone number and address.

That’s just off the top of my head; I really haven’t thought about it too much. The only tethered flight I’ve done was inside the 3 story foyer of a building, and the inflated balloon wouldn’t fit through the door. :slight_smile:

-j

Wow, 6k more feet and you would have set a new amateur ballooning record (assuming you are an amateur).

That one was on a NASA zero pressure balloon; we just built the payload. The HASP projects gets several academic (including student designed and built) payloads onto one of these each year. I just pitched in and helped an aerospace engineering student with some microcontroller glue for his sensors and the telemetry downlink. Got another one going up on this year’s HASP in a few weeks.

I think the best we’ve done with a latex balloon is around 110k (can’t find the record at the moment, I want to say something like 106k or 109k or maybe 112k).

-j

Thats pretty sweet actually. Yeah this is what I was referring to. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617120433.htm

I am currently building a high altitude balloon as well except the payload is a custom glider. It will navigate itself back to the launch site so no recover needed (hopefully). Its a pretty in depth project and requires 3 arduino’s for the onboard flight computers.