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High Altitude Ballooning

 
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jackwardell
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Joined: Mar 24, 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:40 pm    Post subject: High Altitude Ballooning Reply with quote

I'm sure this topic has been asked to death, so I'm sorry.

So I'm new, and I have a project on my hands. Use a weather balloon to launch a 'payload' (with a camera in) up to 100,000ft (30km).

The question is:
1. Can I track the flight precisely? (Don't worry if I can't).
2. When it lands I need to find it. Should I use: radar, radio direction finding, or GPS?
3. When it lands the module need to be on, I don't mind if it blacks out above 60,000ft or something, as long as when it has landed it's on.

P.S:
1. It goes as cold as -50 C. (I will use lithium batteries, hand warmers and insulation. Nethertheless, it needs to be robust).
2. It can travel up to 35km in the sky and 50km across the land.
3. I'm not a pro at circuits, etc. So if you recommend a some sort of GPS module, it will need to be pre-wired or I'll need a guide.
4. AFFORDABLE. (Less than 30/$50).
5. I'm from the UK.
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mikealder
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Joined: Jan 14, 2005
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Location: Blackpool , Lancs

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Line item 4 makes this unachievable IMHO, you will need a GPS with a GSM modem fitted capable of transmitting an SMS text message, unless you can find a very cheap secondhand PDA style SmartPhone equipped with integral GPS receiver and resolve the issue of extream cold at altitude it won't work.

Even with a PDA based phone you would need to script some software to send out a text message containing the GPS data - Mike
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jackwardell
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I moved my budget upto: $100. Would this be more achievable?
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Darren
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of what you wish to achieve is possible but there is no pre-built module that could offer it that I am aware of. You need GPS obviously and ideally a GSM module that can transmit the location so that you can retrieve it.

You seem to be aware of the issues regarding tracking above a certain altitude.

And lastly, you will struggle to find a GPS receiver board for under 30 let alone the GSm module that is also required. I'd guestimate at closer to 4 or 5 times the cost all in.
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mikealder
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One other option is This style of OEM GSM/ GPS module assuming you can program in Python, but even 100 won't get you very far.

As for a SmartPhone within your budget (but will still require software for the given task) look at This as its got built in GPS, you will just need to keep it warm and powered for the flight - Mike
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jackwardell
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, doesn't sound great. Is there a webpage/forum page that explains concisely and thoroughly how GPS and GSM work, and how they function?

Thanks for all the information. Are there any suggested websites to buy from for affordable(ish) hobbyist GPS equipment?
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Darren
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given your lack of experience in programming and building circuits I'd suggest this is way too complex to achieve as a starting project.

A self contained tracker like this may fit your needs but it costs nearer 200 and I'm not sure it has any datalogging functions. Do you need the flight to be logged or just be able to retrieve the balloon/payload after landing?

This device has datalogging but costs 275.

Both devices can send their location in an SMS message. So you could poll the device every 5mins and it will send its location, that would be enough to locate it upon landing.
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jackwardell
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would this work? Or have I caught the wrong end of the stick?
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Darren
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It 'might' do but there isn't enough information to tell. Nowhere does it say how you interrogate the device remotely.

Might be ideal but you'd be taking a gamble to find out.
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Skippy
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out what the guys over at http://www.sparkfun.com/news/389 got up to.

There are loads of details from people who have been there. Watch out because some GPS units have software limits of 60,000 ft coded into them but I think there are a few two that don't.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed, but not a project for someone with no experience of electronics projects?
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