Feeds

Raspberry Pi used as flight computer aboard black-sky balloon

PENGUINs in SPAAAACE!

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Pics A Brit amateur balloonist has pulled off two major achievements: getting his hands on a wallet-sized Raspberry Pi computer and then sending it heavenwards to 39,994m (131,200ft).

Over the weekend, Dave Akerman's PIE1 payload was carried aloft into the stratosphere under a latex meteorological balloon, sending back live webcam images - something which Dave notes "hasn't been done very often".

Dave Akerman and his Pi payload

Dave (pictured) explained:

In early May I received my first Raspberry Pi computer, and having flown several high-altitude balloons before I thought about using one as a flight computer. In almost all of my previous flights I used Arduino Mini Pro boards, and these are ideal – tiny, weigh almost nothing, simple and need very little power.

I looked at the Pi and saw none of these desirable features! What I did see though was a USB port offering quick, easy and inexpensive access to a webcam, meaning that for the first time I could have live images (Slow Scan Digital Video) sent down by my payload.

Concerned that the low-heat dissipation at altitude might cause the cheap-as-chips ARM-powered Pi to overheat, Dave added some heatsinks to his board...

The modified Raspberry Pi board

...then rigged a "Radiometrix NTX2 radio transmitter to send the telemetry and images down to the ground, and connected that to a simple GPS receiver":

The radio transmitter and GPS

The launch was from Dave's home village of Brightwalton, in Berkshire. Dave told El Reg he was using a 1200g Hwoyee balloon, and expected a burst altitude of around 34,000m (111,500ft).

The launch of the Raspberry Pi payload

In the event, it soared to an unexpected peak altitude of 39,994m, not far short of Dave's "Buzznick" balloon that reached 40,575m in December. He says he's since beaten that height twice: his BUZZ6 flight in May hit 43,639m (143,172 feet).

The webcam proved a great success. Here's an image transmitted from altitude before the Linux-powered Pi payload finally came down in a field north of Oxford:

An image from Pi webcam

Dave's orb was filled with hydrogen, as indeed were all of the mighty globes currently occupying the top six positions in the UK altitude record chart.

Doubtless this will renew efforts by inflammable gas experts to convince us to use hydrogen for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, but we're sticking with cigarette-friendly helium, thanks very much. ®

Bootnote

All snaps are © Dave Akerman, who we thank for permission to reproduce them here.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.