Mar 012013
Dave and Anthony sealing up the full balloon

On Wednesday of this week, I went to film Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk launching two high altitude weather balloons. One of them had a Raspberry Pi inside a TARDIS as its payload.

It was cold. In the video you’ll see it looks almost as if Dave is smoking at one point. That would have been a bad idea as the 70 kg red cylinders are full of highly explosive Hydrogen gas.

TARDIS and Hydrogen cylinder

Slight cheating on the Vid

I confess in advance that I did have to cheat slightly with the video. Dave was really keen to get footage from the webcam on launch, so I didn’t get much of the TARDIS balloon going up. But I did some ascent shots of AVA, flight 1. Most ‘film producers’ wouldn’t tell you that, but the balloon enthusiasts will notice different balloon shape and payload, so I’m declaring it here. ;)

It was cold

My fingers were cold and I was wearing gloves (albeit full of holes because they are old so I could film). Anthony and Dave had quite a few intricate, fiddly operations to do – tying bits of cord and connecting electronics. At times it was quite hard in the cold.

They worked together really well and as if they’d been doing it for years.

I got to hold the balloon

At one point they both needed to be involved in attaching the TARDIS and webcam to the balloon so I held the “large latex balloon full of Hydrogen” for a few minutes. That was quite a thrill and honour.

The Chase

I had to leave at 12 to go and teach a Year 5 ICT class. So we parted ways at that point and Dave and Anthony went off in Dave’s chase vehicle to what was to be a fairly simple retrieval about 2.5 hours later.

Mobile mission control

In the meantime, the balloon and TARDIS rose to ~35.5 km above our heads. It was a successful flight and Dave got some great photos from ~35km up. You can see more of them here…

Tardis in space – well, nearly

About 35 km up

You can read Dave’s account of the flights first-hand on his blog here

Dave and Anthony sealing up the full balloon

I had a lot of fun. Thanks Dave and Anthony for having me along :)

Here’s a few more photos…

  12 Responses to “Raspberry Pi in near space 35.5km from earth”

  1. Great vid as always. I tracked the Pi on the day using the online map and listened into the IRC chatter. Great fun!

  2. Well done Alex ! I was almost expecting a Raspi.TV flag waving out of the TARDIS!!
    Interesting to see 3G only works 303m up!

    • Thanks Paul. Now there’s an idea. ;) Dave explained about the 3G towers. We were at 180m to start with and the signal only goes about 100ish metres above ground level because of the height and directionality (is that even a word?) of the signal from the 3G towers. So it was planned for and expected (by Dave). 3G streaming was switched off at a certain altitude and the camera went into stills mode.

  3. If anyone here is looking to get a Raspberry Pi, why not win it instead? 123-reg has a contest and it’s giving out 5 of these. Just submit a video saying how far you’d go for one (space is pretty far already!).
    Contest is here:
    Submissions end March 15.

    • What the heck. I’ve entered for a laugh. :)

      • I got my Raspberry pi when I bought a VPS from them. I’m still going through the beginners manual and it’s been two months already.

        Good luck to you, Alex!

  4. […] in the Sky” Akerman was there as well, also bearing gifts. Dave gave Eben the TARDIS from his recent balloon flight and the recently retired “Pi in the Sky” Raspberry Pi all nicely framed up. He also […]

  5. […] nos planteamos ir al espacio, podemos mandar la Raspberry Pi a más de 35 km de altura como en este otro proyecto de ciencias. Más información […]

  6. […] nos planteamos ir al espacio, podemos mandar la Raspberry Pi a más de 35 km de altura como en este otro proyecto de ciencias. Más información […]

  7. Is there any chance for an indepth tutorial on how you did this. from start to scratch. I am just getting into using Pi, and Electronics (have some programming knowledge), however I feel this is a big more than I can chew to just jump into. I am sure it will be a great learning project.

    Cheers..great stuff

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