Ever since around about the end of 2010, I’ve wanted to build a near space weather balloon project like this one: http://space.1337arts.com/ . And I haven’t.
Well, you say, aren’t you lazy Lochie! Get off your bum and do what you want to do. So I am. It is now that I announce to you my grand plan.
Most weather balloon projects are incredibly complicated. They usually involve individual tracking, communications and data logging boards. And at least a handful of arduinos and wires. Well, I’ve decided to keep to the keep it simple stupid (KISS) concept with this one. The only bit of custom electronics will be a USB power supply. The main brains of the project will be a cheap Huawei X1 smart phone. They’re cheap, run android and are small and light. These are all really useful things. It’s really important that something like this is kept cheap for a couple of reasons:
- I’m a cheap kind of guy. I guard my money closely.
- Balloons don’t always come back.
- And when they don’t come back they are often just sitting in the little “to be sold on ebay” stash of some guy. He’s more likely to give it back to you for a reward the cheaper it is.
The project will also have on board a small spycam that I showed off in my previous blog post. It is also light, cheap and hackable. This balloon is going to be pretty awesome.
The phone is going to be a Huawei X1 purchased from Optus for $71. It will handle the tracking and communications side of things as well as taking some pretty pictures. The phone will be loaded with the Real Time GPS app along with the IP webcam app and the where’s my droid app. Real Time GPS will supply the tracking and where’s my droid will act as a backup tracker. IP webcam will be used to provide a kind of live stream of events. The phone will have external power via USB and some RC plane batteries. The main reason that I am using the Huawei X1 is that I already own one so I can test tracking etc (it’s been working so far) before buying another one for the project. I’ll also probably have to crack it open to solder in an external antenna for better range. Or I could just use my current one and take the risk. I do like my phone though…..
The Power Supply
I’ll be using a similar circuit to the one I used for my Leanlight project. There’ll be an individual power supply for each device as shown below.
As for the balloon and parachute, I’m not really doing that bit. I’m doing this with my electronics teacher and he’s figuring that stuff out. Once I’ve built the power supply for the electronics and done some testing, the balloon and parachute rig should be ready.
So there you have it. My rushed and rough explanation of what I’m building. There will be more. I promise. I’m sorry I don’t write as much for the blog as I have been the last few weeks. It’s just that I have to go to something pesky called school now, whereas before I was on holidays.