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: