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Pocket GPS World :: View topic - high altitude balloon gps tracking
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high altitude balloon gps tracking

 
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HF_ATL
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Joined: Oct 03, 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:09 pm    Post subject: high altitude balloon gps tracking Reply with quote

Hello,


I want to launch a high altitude balloon and my question is.. what is the cheapest way to get live gps information from the balloon to a pda or a computer for instance in the ground? I think using GSM (tracking via sms) won't work due to the horizontal facing cell tower gsm antennas so the coverage may be zero at high altitudes..


Thanks!
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mikealder
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Joined: Jan 14, 2005
Posts: 19638
Location: Blackpool , Lancs

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, what do you class as "High Altitude" GSM/ GPRS probably won't work too well depending upon how high you intend to go, you could fit a lGPS logger to the ballon if its going to return to earth but you would need to locate it once it returns (not easy) to recover the data. Also battery performance would be a major issue as you would encounter well below -50 degrees C once you go above 40,000FT - Mike
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Pocketgps
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Joined: Nov 16, 2004
Posts: 2145
Location: Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have a look at these web sites.

HERE

Tracking electronics from HERE

May give you some ideas and info Laughing
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HF_ATL
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Joined: Oct 03, 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all thanks for your reply!

The balloon has a burst altitude around 30km. Many aspects have to be taken into consideration, like the temperature (will certainly reach easily -50șC at about 10-14km) and the winds it will encounter.
However, a gps/gsm system will work for initial and final phases but as far as I read, above ~5000ft the gsm coverage will be extinguish.
I would like also to carry a camcorder to take videos and some photos since launch till landing.. So the weight of the entire gps system cannot be too large, since payload for this balloon is around 250g.
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imhotep531
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Joined: Jun 28, 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, I have been researching the exact same thing. For some reason a lot of people don't understand what you are trying to do at first and you get some very unhelpful answers. I've had to run threads on various forums to make any progress.

By the way, this is the video that inspired me to do my own camera launch. Maybe you have alerady seen it....

http://vimeo.com/12421661

That guy used a Spot tracker. More on that below. Here are some options I have found:

http://www.pocketgpsworld.com/ontrak-ptd.php - this one works with any prepaid SIM card. So you would go buy a pay-as-you-go cell phone with a GSM SIM card, then stick the card into this device and get going. I do not know what the operating temperature range is, but I am planning on insulating the payload to some degree, which will be necessary to prevent fogging on the camera lens anyway. So this one may an option and does not require you to sign up for an expensive rate plan just for the tracker.

http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=101 - This is Colin used to track the Pacific Star missions in the video above. The unit is $100 and then there's a $100/year service plan, so you are spending the same as the OnTrak device even though there's a rate plan. This option may actually be better because it will be easier to get working. The downside is you owe them $100/year indefinitely.

The only other option I have found in this price range is to use Google Latitude which can track several different kinds of smart phones, including the Droid, iPhone, blackberry, and certain Nokia smart phones. The phone must have the Latitude app installed, and the phone must ride along inside the payload, effectively acting as the tracking device. If there is a way to get a pay-as-you-go smart phone that works with Google Latitude, this may be the way to go.

Please let me know what you decide to do and I will keep following this thread. I am probably several weeks away from doing a test launch using a much smaller balloon, but my ultimate is like yours - to send a camera 20 miles up and take photos, then track it once it lands and retrieve the data.
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