Between now and the end of the summer term, as a school project, we will be attempting to plan, design, build, launch, fly and retrieve a high altitude balloon. The balloon will carry a payload consisting of items such as a GPS tracker and Raspberry Pi computer, programmed to take photos and video, as well as collecting scientific data during the flight.
High Altitude Ballooning
High Altitude Ballooning, or HAB for short is a hobby that is growing worldwide and provides an opportunity for enthusiasts to carry out their own NASA style mission to explore the upper atmosphere. Lift is provided by a helium filled weather balloon that will rise to approximately 100,000 feet. Once at this height the balloon will burst and descend back to Earth controlled by a parachute.
Attached to the balloon is a payload containing a mini computer (A Raspberry Pi or Arduino is most commonly used), GPS and Radio Transmitter. Also attached is at least one camera which will hopefully take some fantastic photos on route. The GPS and Radio Transmitter enables the flight to be tracked live over the Internet via a web site (HabHub). This tracking is used in order to facilitate an overland chase and hopefully a successful recovery of the data. More information on what this will involve can be found here.
Dave Akerman (the writer of the page previously linked) is a HAB subject matter expert, we have already been in touch with Dave ref our project and he, along with others, will be on hand to provide technical assistance. Dave lives to the east of us (Somerset) and has said that he will keep an eye out (so to speak) for our balloon as it goes past. Here is a video showing Dave launching one of his balloons.
The project is being led by members of the schools Pi, Code and Chips club, an after school computing club. However to ensure maximum gain from this unique experience, it is anticipated that many more pupils will be involved along the way and the launch will be a whole school event, not to mention the opportunities for HAB based lessons! Some ideas of the learning opportunities across the school are highlighted here.
In order to meet the costs (approximately £600) we will be holding several fund raising activities, details of which will be promulgated once they are confirmed.
To stay up to date with the project take a look at our weekly blog which can be found by clicking on the updates menu (top RH side of this page).
And to wet your appetite even more here is another video: