Tom Gibson from Bloomberg came along to my last launch to video the proceedings and interview me for this nice little article that went live today. Click the above image to view on the Bloomberg site, or watch on YouTube below.
Probably my most unusual flight to date, this one began when I was contacted on Twitter by a media production company Sitcom Soldiers who asked for my help in launching a high altitude balloon for Wreck My Dress. They wanted to fly a wedding dress into the stratosphere, and I agreed to do it for them provided the dress was a small model, and not a full sized one (which would act as an unpredictable parachute – the payload could have landed anywhere!). After a few emails back and forth, they applied for launch permission from the Lake District and built a payload structure with 3 GoPro cameras on board. A date was set but the predictions didn’t allow for a safe flight, so we delayed till the following weekend. Even then, predictions weren’t ideal but an alternate launch site was found and the CAA kindly switched the permission to there for us. The end result is just great as you can see below:
Julie and I travelled up the day before, staying at a B&B in the village local to the launch site. After breakfast we set out to find … snow and sideways winds. Not ideal launch conditions! After meeting up with the film crew (a total of 18 people including cameramen, make-up etc.!), I was mostly heard to mutter “too cold”, “too windy”, and “can’t launch in this!”.
However, with all that lot having turned up, I didn’t want to disappoint, and a failed launch is only likely to waste a balloon and gas so why not just have a go? I then thought about how to give us the best chance of a successful launch, and decided to fly just the one payload (originally I was going to add a separate tracker and perhaps a separate camera/tracker payload). By putting 2 trackers into the camera rig I could have a backup to the main tracker without having a separate payload. Also, using shorter lines than normal would further reduce the chance of launching sideways into a tree. Finally, we found a partly sheltered launch spot where the wind would take the flight over a dip in the ground, giving it more clearance as the payload line swings down.
So, the aim of the day was to record enough footage for a promo video. The idea for the shoot was that a woman decides to “wreck her (wedding) dress” by sending it up into the stratosphere and then searching for it after it lands. My part of course was the launch and recovery, and as I said that was of a miniature dress specially made for the day. Here’s the make-up team working on the actress in a box van:
Here she’s being videoed preparing her dress (a real one) for flight:
While all this was going on I got the trackers and chase car set up and then payload line connected up, all in the relative comfort of the make-up van. It was then time to venture outside and fill the balloon. We’d positioned the filling area downwind of the van so it offered some protection, but even so I was nearly pulled over by the balloon a couple of times!
And here’s the very nicely made miniature dress, hanging from the camera rig:
For the launch itself, we walked the balloon down to a partly sheltered area where the balloon had plenty of space to rise up over any trees. It was so windy I had a “minder” walking right behind me, making sure the wind didn’t pull me over as I held the balloon!
As you can see, it was pretty windy but eventually the wind calmed enough for a safe launch.
So with that done, we packed up the cylinders and launch kit and headed off cross-country to where the prediction said the flight would land, in the Yorkshire Dales. It was an “interesting” drive and I was glad of the fairly knobbly tyres on the 4×4!
I’d deliberately over-filled the balloon to get it to rise quickly and to burst early, in order to avoid it landing near some MOD establishments to the south-east. As we chased the balloon burst even earlier than planned, so we had to change our route. We then got to a closed road with no diversion signs, and found that the tiny roads we needed were unknown to the car sat nav! 3G and indeed any phone contact came and went all the time, so at one point we resorted to a proper paper map to plot our route! This then took us between some large water reservoirs, and past a small forest, at which point my heart sank as I realised that we were unlikely to recover the flight if it landed in either of those! In the event it flew over Hury Reservoir, avoided the trees and landed on a hillside within 150 metres of a road. Result! We were quite close at the time and it pretty much flew over our heads (but invisibly due to the low cloud cover). We parked up as my direction-finding app said the payload was directly to our right. Some of the locals seemed quite interested in what was going on:
Wellies donned, we set off up the steep, muddy hill, me carrying a yagi and receiver for direction-finding, plus a GPS app on my phone loaded with the landing position. It was a hard slog, with not much visibility, but we found the payload safe on the snow:
We brought everything back down to the cars so everyone (including the sheep) could see the rescued dress:
Now, on a regular flight that would be it – pack up and go home to view the photos! This though, as you’ve probably already gathered, was no ordinary flight, and the film crew had more to do to finish off the storyline. On route to the landing spot they’d spied a nice location with a stream and waterfall, and decided to video the recovery scenes there. So we drove a few miles back to there, parked up and warmed ourselves with tea/coffee.
Meanwhile, once make-up had done their stuff, it was down to the actress to “find” the dress in the snow …
Then another delay for make-up (if you think HAB time is slow, you should try waiting for make-up….) before a final video shoot …
This was my fifth “Pi In The Sky” flight and originally was to be an altitude record attempt using an extremely light photographic payload, however such a flight this time of year is likely to end up in the North Sea. Been There Done That don’t want to do it again. Now, most flights (nearly all of them actually) follow a simple profile – go up –> burst –> come down, but there’s another option which is to go for a “float” (in the air, not the sea). The simplest method of achieving a float is to underfill a large balloon, and what happens is that as the balloon approaches the stretch limit of the latex, the tiny amount of free lift reduces to zero at which point the balloon stops ascending continuously and instead just bobbles up and down. If the balloon survives until sunset then it cools and drops substantially in altitude to float at a lower level, before ascending again after sunrise. Typically the balloon then bursts but it is possible for it to float another day.
As far as I’m aware, no previous floaters have carried cameras, and my plan was to do just that with a Raspberry Pi camera using the live image transmission system (SSDV) that I’ve used before. I decided to take fairly large images and to send those at 300 baud which is known to work over large distances, but to use 2 radio transmitters to effectively double the bandwidth. Essentially the hardware was the same as in my Raspberry Pi-shaped tracker (which will fly very soon) but in a better insulated container with more batteries for the longer flight. I was expecting a flight beyond Poland and for the tracker to run for about 24 hours by which time it would be out of range of our receiver network anyway.
With a workable flight I contacted Liz and Eben Upton of the Raspberry Pi foundation to see when they were free to to launch with me – something all of us have wanted to do for some time. Saturday was that day, and with predictions from my home looking a bit risky (a fly-past of some minor provincial airfields called Luton and Stansted) I asked Steve Randall if it would be OK to use his site in Cambridgeshire (convenient for the RPi guys of course!). He said yes, and Anthony Stirk was available to come and launch his AVA payload, so the plan had come together. I love it when that happens …
The weekend approached quickly and I didn’t get time to make the tracker till the Thursday, and then built the payload container on the Friday evening. No rush then! I even managed to find time to program in a late Easter Egg (more on that later). Liz publicised the launch on the RPi site and Lester Haines did the same on The Register. I didn’t get much sleep on Friday night, having to get up in time to finish packing the 4×4 and then leave for Cambs at 7am. We needed to get there in time to launch in the morning as the winds were going to get up in the afternoon.
We arrived first, a few minutes early to find the wind rather stronger than expected. Anthony was next and we waited for Steve to arrive as he’s launched there many many times before and knows the best spots to launch according to the wind direction. Here he is using his patent-pending wind-direction-finding technique:
Eben and Liz were next, then Tom from Bloomberg who was recording the event for a news item, Graham (another balloonist) and James (Pi Camera Coder).
With the video streaming and tracking stations set up, we put our payloads together. Here Eben’s holding PIE5 for me whilst Anthony works on his AVA payload at the front:
With payloads working and tied to the parachutes, it was time to get inflating those balloons. You’d have thought that a hydrogen cylinder would be lightweight what with all that hydrogen in it, but apparently not …
Now, a normal flight (one intended to burst) has a “neck lift” in the range 1-5kg, typically about 2kg, and those are usually easy to measure by hanging a suitable weight from the balloon filler. here though we wanted a neck lift of around 300g, which becomes a problem when your filler weighs nearly twice that! So we had to use the scientific method known as “guessing”, followed up by removing the balloon and hanging a weight (2 reels of duct tape!) below. Here Anthony is helping me at a delicate part of the procedure:
We filled Anthony’s balloon first, and then asked Eben to hold it whilst we worked on my balloon:
Once my balloon was ready and both payloads tied to their respective balloons, I handed my balloon to Liz and we got the two of them to pose for us:
After checking that both payloads were still running fine, we were ready to launch. Steve called Air Traffic Control for clearance, and they said we had 5 minutes to launch in or wait a short while. We were ready, and after waiting a minute for the wind to drop we both launched:
(thanks to Alex Eames of raspit.tv for recording the video stream for us).
What you don’t see in the video is the resulting excitement and panic. Whilst my flight ascended at the expected rate, Anthony’s didn’t. See his exciting write-up for details, but suffice to say that it just cleared a tree 500 metres from the launch point!
With that over I did a piece to camera:
and Eben did a piece too. We all then packed up, and Anthony, Liz, Eben, Julie and myself made our way to Milton Keynes (why, you may ask?) to an excellent Dim Sum restaurant that Liz and Eben recommended (there’s your answer) and is probably the only reason to visit that place.
In between the many, many rounds of dishes we talked ballooning and Raspberrying, and kept tabs on progress of our flights. PIE4 was out over the North Sea transmitting some nice images as it went.
We then noticed that AVA had stopped transmitting and that uXABEN (Steve’s flight) had lost GPS. That was running a pre-preduction unit and a failure wasn’t a big surprise, but we were disappointed that AVA had hit trouble so early. After the meal we all set off to our respective homes, and during a short stop for fuel Julie and I noticed that AVA had updated on the map again and was near the Dutch coast. AVA carried 2 radio transmitters one of which is not allowed over the UK and was programmed to switch itself on only when legal to do so. We called Anthony with the good news, then went home.
At home I spent pretty much all the rest of the day watching the progress of both flights. PIE5 settled into a float at around 40km, gently going up and down with a peak altitude of 40,350 metres, comfortably above my previous “live images” record of just under 40km!
The images weren’t all as good as I’d hoped, principally because I’d used auto exposure and that faces an enormous challenge to find the correct settings with the vast difference in luminance between the clouds and the blackness of space. The flight was over a lot of cloud which makes that task almost almost impossible, and I’ve seen many poor images before with other cameras in this situation. It would have been better if I’d used manual settings, which I will do next time! Also, the flight seemed unusually stable (normally the payload swings around a lot) resulting in a lot of images with a lot of black and a little cloud. So in the even it would have been better to have the camera aimed downwards slightly. Nevertheless there were some interesting images including these apparently of a gigantic raspberry!
By now AVA had apparently died altogether, with neither RTTY or APRS transmitters running. After sunset my balloon descended as I’d hoped, achieving an excellent second float:
After that I waited eagerly for 9pm to arrive. Why? Because knowing that the sky would be completely black by then, I’d copied some specially chosen space-related images to the SD card the night before, and programmed the Pi to select and transmit images from the set. Needless to say this caused some confusion, consternation and amusement, as intended of course!
The missing segments are down to the fact that by now the flight was a long way from home and we only had a couple of listeners in range. I’d expected the flight to go towards Poland, but it had floated so high that the winds brought it south over Switzerland instead! When I awoke in the morning the last listener reported that PIE5 had finally stopped transmitting data, and that would have been because the batteries had given up. Here’s the last image it managed to transmit:
By now it was still over Switzerland and beginning to rise in the sun. Most likely it then burst, with a landing across the border in France. It does have contact details on it so it’s possible though unlikely it’ll find its way home!
Of course, if you do find the payload or know of its whereabouts, please contact me (details in the About page!
With PIE5 “lost in space”, attention turned to AVA which wasn’t as doomed as it had seemed. It suddenly appeared on the map over the Czech Republic, and was then tracked down into Austria where it burst and landed atop a 1500m high hill! Here’s the map showing the paths of both balloons – note how different they are despite both being launched from the same place at the same time!
We all assumed that was that, but we weren’t banking on International Rescue arriving in Austria in the form of a Slovak balloonist called Radim and his intrepid team. After driving from Bratislava they hiked up the snow-covered hill to rescue AVA! See Anthony’s account.
So, an awesome ballooning weekend, with records broken (highest live images, highest landing spot) and the most incredible recovery I’ve seen. Now we just need PIE5 to be found!
All being well I will launch the 5th “Pi In The Sky” this Saturday morning from Cambridgeshire. The intention is to get the balloon to float all day rather than burst, and the projected flight path takes it over Holland and Germany. The batteries will last for 24 hours by which time it will be out of range of our radio receiver network anyway.
The payload will carry a model A Raspberry Pi, plus an Arduino Mini Pro, a UBlox GPS receiver, and 2 Radiometrix NTX2 transmitters. The latter will be on nearby frequencies primarily to avoid conflict with some other flights this weekend, but also to allow those with SDR (Software Defined Radio) receivers to listen to and decode the signals from both transmitters.
If you have an SDR and want to do this, check my article. If you’ve not tracked amateur high altitude balloons before, check the UKHAS tracking guide.
This will be one of 3 flights from the same location on Saturday:
On Saturday the 13th of April there will be three launches from the Cambridge area under meteorological balloons. Two of these (PIE5 and AVA) are configured to ascend to a certain altitude (>100,000 feet) and then float rather than burst. The expected path takes the balloons out of UK air space and continue onwards over Europe. The final flight (XABEN) will be a slow ascent and then a burst to land in Holland.
All balloons will be transmitting RTTY telemetry on the 70cms band.
The first balloon is flying a Raspberry Pi which will be transmitting live SSDV images back to the ground by a pair of transmitters to double the bandwidth. The data is RTTY 300 baud 8N2. The frequencies will be at 434.070 and 434.074Mhz. The balloon call sign is $$PIE.
The second balloon is flying a 70cms tracker on 434.450Mhz 50 baud 7N2, additionally once it enters air space where the airborne use of APRS is permitted a second APRS transmitter will enable with the call sign M0UPU-11.
The third balloon is callsign uXABEN, 434.350MHz, 470Hz shift, 7N1.
Last week I helped out at a balloon launch, providing the tracking and video streaming from the launch site. Normally I do that stuff from the back of my car, but this time the site was some distance from the car parking so I ended up with my netbook and radio on the ground, with the webcam balanced precariously on a bush. Not ideal, especially as on the ground nearby was the largest poo since mammoths roamed the Earth.
This got me thinking about setting up a boxed tracking station, and then I remembered that I have an unused Peli case which I bought for my laptop computer when there was a big panic about airline security and all laptops had to be put in the hold. Well if any laptop of mine is going in a hold then it’s going in a Peli case, so I bought one and cut the foam to fit. Then the panic subsided before I had to fly anywhere, so the case stayed unused in my loft.
For a tracking station I need a netbook or laptop, radio receiver with aerial, and a 3G connection. Ideally I’d also have a webcam to stream the proceedings, and some spare batteries. After a while arranging the parts to fit, here’s what I came up with.
With spare batteries below the netbook:
And here in “operation” mode. The 3G access point moves from its holder to the top-right slot; the receiver moves to a small cradle that held the audio cable; the webcam just happens to fit perfectly in the Peli case hinge bracket:
Since I started using the Raspberry Pi as a radio tracker, I’ve been wanting to try two things both in the interest of reducing payload weight. As a simple telemetry tracker the Pi just cannot compete on weight with say an Arduino Mini Pro, which weighs almost nothing and has low power requirements, but as a photographic tracker it starts to come into its own.
This two things were the model A Pi, which has been available for a few weeks, and the new Pi camera which a few lucky souls (including me) have been sent pre-production models of. The model A has about 1/4 of the power consumption of the model B, thus potentially (hah!) using smaller batteries. The camera is a lot lighter than a webcam whilst using about the same power, and doesn’t connect by USB meaning that I can dispense with the 5V rail altogether (saving the weight of a 5V regulator and allowing the use of fewer batteries. A lighter payload means less gas which in turn means a greater peak altitude before the balloon bursts, meaning a good chance of beating the “live” picture altitude record and perhaps the “highest pictures” record too.
The Pi camera also offers much higher resolution than the webcam I was using, though the limited radio bandwidth means that such images would need to be stored only and not transmitted. However I still wanted to take advantage of the increased picture quality over a webcam, and that means increasing the radio bandwidth. First option is to increase the baud rate, so for my TARDIS flight I tested that by doubling the rate from the 300 baud of my earlier Pi flights to 600. Practically, that’s practically as high as I can go with the existing rtty system since 1200 baud uses almost the entire audio bandwidth of the decoding software, thus making it very difficult for receivers to remain tuned in. Then Anthony Stirk came up with the idea of using 2 radio transmitters on the same tracker, to either interleave a picture between 2 radio frequencies or to send separate pictures on each. Either way the end result is double the amount of image data being sent, and I thought it was a brilliant idea. After a quick chat with Philip Heron (who wrote the SSDV imaging software I use to encode/decode the images for transmission) to confirm that his system would work using either method, I set about making it happen.
Now, my method for transmitting rtty from the Pi is to connect the serial (UART) port more-or-less directly to a Radiometrix NTX2 radio transmitter, thus avoiding the need for application software to maintain accurate timing. Although the Pi has 2 such ports, only one can be mapped to the GPIO connector at a time, so I needed some other technique to get both radios running. My solution was to add an Arduino Mini Pro as a de-multiplexer so, essentially, telemetry gets sent at double speed to the Arduino which then sends packets to the correct NTX2. The coding was a bit more complex than that, with the Arduino maintaining 2 buffers (1 for incoming and one for outgoing) per radio channel, and handling a simple protocol with handshaking, the result of which is no gaps between transmitted packets thus making full use of the available bandwidth. Here’s the Arduino wired up:
to two of these NTX2 radio transmitters
Here’s the model A Pi. Note that most of the connectors are missing (save more weight!):
and the pre-production Pi camera in action:
For GPS, I used a minature UBlox breakout board from HAB Supplies, hacked to connect via i2c instead of async serial:
and the lot is going into this themed payload container:
Earlier this week I went along to the Oxford Geek Night where they had a Raspberry Pi themed night. The Pi is obviously popular in Oxford (despite any possible Oxford – Cambridge rivalry – the Pi was born in Cambridge), and the place was absolutely packed. The only spot I could find to stand wasn’t even in sight of the stage, though it was quite close to the bar, so that balanced things up somewhat.
I only stayed as long as the break, because my main reason for being there was to meet Eben who has been very kind in mentioning my name at every possible opportunity! He is a self-confessed “Space Cadet” so we have that in common, and I saved him from having to eat his hat if nobody put a Pi up into near space under a weather balloon. By coincidence that first Pi flight was the very next day after the publication of that article, so he didn’t have to worry about the long term viability of said hat for long.
I mentioned here before that I intended to retire my model B Pi from active duty after 4 successful flights, and it was about that time that I hatched the plan to present that Pi to Eben. I decided to get it framed and I spent 2-3 hours (about the same time as a flight!) scouring various shops for a suitable (deep, and preferably with 3 sections) frame. In the end Julie remembered that we’d bought such a frame before, from Tesco of all places. I should mention though that no horses were harmed in the making of this frame.
I also decided to present my TARDIS to Eben, after Liz Upton had asked for suitable items for their demo table. Of course I’d removed the Pi, so it wasn’t functional, and I decided to remove the tracker components too (so I can use those again). I did however leave the battery pack in place so the flashing LED could be brought to life anytime.
So, come the break, I made my way forward towards the stage against the flow of people making a break for the bar and/or toilets. Eben was chatting with a few other geeks including Alex Eames of raspi.tv who covered my TARDIS flight, but eventually he spotted the TARDIS and then guessed who I was! So I explained that the TARDIS was his to take away, and I then reached into my bag for the framed, original, “Pi In The Sky”. Here he is holding his new goodies:
We had a brief chat about my progress with my next tracker – a model A Pi with a pre-production Pi camera – and we talked about flying that in a few weeks time so Eben and Liz can see what it’s like to launch and chase a weather balloon flight. I’ll post again soon about the hardware and plans for that flight, but it should be a good one!
Just a quick post about a launch I did late last year for the TV production company Glasshead. It was for part of a new educational programme aimed at 8-11 year olds, to encourage them to program by showing them exciting software applications including an F1 simulator and CGI graphics for Doctor Who.
Raspberry Pi in a TARDIS takes stratospheric self-portrait
For my fourth Raspberry PI weather balloon flight I wanted to pack as much into the flight as I could, making full use of what the Pi has to offer:
3G link for video and backup telemetry
Send telemetry over 3G from the launch site
A live video stream from payload itself, with telemetry overlay, before and for the first few seconds of launch site, over 3G
Radio telemetry and SSDV images as usual
Transmit larger photos than before, using twice the transmission speed
Switch to taking and sending even larger photos when above 30km
Take full-size images for storage on the SD card
3G to automatically reconnect on landing
Send the landing position over 3G
Live video stream from the landing site (hopefully in the middle of an empty field)
Upload all images to a web server by ftp after landing
That’s quite a lot more than before, and with all the overall control software written the day before launch I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see things go wrong! In the event, the only part that failed was the ftp upload (the very last thing I added).
With more electronics than usual to pack inside the payload, what better choice than a TARDIS? Sadly I must have missed my university class on transdimensional engineering, so I had to build a fairly large TARDIS to fit everything inside. Actually the real reason for choosing the TARDIS over say an Apollo Command Module (that’s for next time) was that it’s easy to make from flat sheets of extruded polystyrene! Unsurprisingly, the internet is full of plans and diagrams so it didn’t take long to find what I needed, including the vital fact that the correct colour paint is Prussian Blue . A flashing white LED completed the construction.
For the inside I built mounted the electronics either side of corrugated plastic sheet. One side carried the Pi itself (a model B – I needed both USB ports), plus switched-mode regulators for the 3.3V and 5V lines, and a USB 3G dongle for the live video stream and backup telemetry:
On the other side went the 6 Lithium AA cells plus a custom board carrying the NTX2 radio transmitter, UBlox GPS receiver, BMP085 pressure/temperature sensor and an A/D to monitor the battery voltage. A second temperature sensor was added outside the base.
Last but not least I needed a camera to photograph the TARDIS, and again I used a Logitech C270 webcam this time mounted in a fluorescent pink ball (easy to spot at distance after it lands!). You can see that mounted precariously at the back of this image:
The launch day was overcast and cold, but my main concern was the flight path. Too far west and the landing spot would be near Bath; too far east and it would be near Salisbury Plain (where men play with their toys). So I planned the ascent rate//descent rate and burst altitude to land between those extremes. Anthony Stirk (who helped out on my first Pi launch) came along to help, and to launch his own balloon too which he successfully got to float and was last seen flying over Germany. Also Alex Eames of http://raspi.tv/ came to record the launch on video. We launched Anthony’s flight first and then the TARDIS:
The live video streaming from the payload worked well for the launch, though it soon hit the low cloud and then the 3G dropped out (as expected). At 4km the flight software stopped trying to connect through 3G, closed the streaming program, and started to take still images which were then transmitted over the radio link. I’d tested all this stuff with a pretend flight but it was great to see it actually work for real! I’d chosen to transmit images and telemetry at 600 baud, which may sound slow but it’s twice the rate normally used for images and 12 times the normal telemetry speed, and I was concerned that we’d lose lots of image data. However we lost very little – more than on a 300 baud flight, but not enormously so especially considering it was a midweek launch with fewer listeners than normal. here’s one of the images it sent:
With the launch kit packed back in the car, we stopped by at home so I could tune my receiver there in to help with the downloading, then we set off in the general direction of where the flight was supposed to land. We took my 4×4 which has a car PC installed with a touchscreen on the dash (top of the pic below), plus a Google Nexus 7 mounted below for the map. Anthony had his netbook plus mine to use.
We took the wrong road out of Marlborough which did slow us a little but the flight path meant we had enough time. Once the balloon burst we could see that the landing point was going to be near Melsham, so we headed there, and then on to Whitley as the landing prediction homed in. After a short stop for fuel, and a shorter stop for another purpose (the garage didn’t have a toilet!) we parked up by the main road expecting the payload to land about 300 metres away. In the event it was about 1.3km away, so we didn’t see it. The radio signal dropped out on landing, and the last position we had was for it 200 metres above the ground. We jumped back in the car and headed there, and very soon the map updated with the actual landing position, sent over the GSM link. About that time the live video link burst back into life too! Here’s a still from that:
We parked up about 200 metres from the payload. I entered the co-ords into my Android phone and we followed the directions from that, but pretty soon Anthony spotted the flight lying in the field:
Here’s the flight path to the landing spot (top-right downwards) and the path we took carrying the payload back to the car. Note the HV electricity lines! By my calculation the TARDIS was 37 metres above the ground when it crossed them ….
And here’s the video that the Pi streamed live as Anthony and I recovered it!
That will be the last flight of that particular Raspberry PI – after 4 successful flights I think this is a good time to retire it! My next Pi flight will be a model A with the new Pi camera. Watch this space!
Thanks go to Anthony Stirk for helping with the launch and providing his backup tracker, Alex Eames for recording the launch and preparations, Philip Heron for supplying the SSDV software and recording the landing video stream for me, and the CUSF team for their work on the infrastructure that all us UK HABbers (and some abroad) rely on.
Stop Press Alex just now put up his story and video. Thanks Alex!
If you want to watch the live action during my next launch, this is what you need.
The flight will be the fourth outing for my Raspberry Pi tracker. As usual it will be sending down GPS telemetry plus live images. New for this launch it will also:
Send a live video stream from the launch site, over 3G
Send telemetry over 3G from the launch site
With luck, the above will work again when 3G reconnects on landing
Upload all images to a web server after landing
Include extra telemetry (temperatures and pressure)
The payload box is a replica TARDIS from BBC TV’s Doctor Who series. Made from extruded polystyrene with printed sides and painted roof and base, it even has a flashing roof light .
There will be 2 live video streams. One will be from the payload itself, using an external webcam aimed back at the TARDIS. This one will be live from the launch site and the first moments of the flight, after which it will be automatically switched off so the webcam can be used for the live image download over the radio link. This stream has the altitude overlaid. The second video stream will be from a laptop at the launch site, and will switch to a windscreen-mounted webcam for the chase.
If you want to follow the action, you need the following web links: