Joshua Gigantino, Fab Academy 2011, Final Project


Iterative series of high altitude balloon flights using Fab and open source components where possible and an open parts list for the entire project. Provide design, engineering and scientific opportunities for the Fab Academy and other interested parties. Finally, create flotilla of 3 balloons that interact, measure the space between them and attempt a trans-Atlantic flight.

Basic goals are to create a balloon platform that anyone with access to a Fab Lab can build while providing instrument space for artists and scientists.

Further goals are to build a flotilla of 3 balloons that are able to interact and perform together while taking measurements of GPS, altitude, attitude, temperature, pressure, heading, ground track imaging and other imaging. Ideal configuration includes 360ยบ video or stills.

Planned Flights:

Flight 1: Single Balloon test. Mid April?
Flight 2: Three-envelope test with full instrumentation. Mid May?
Flight 3: Three unit, trans-Atlantic flight. Persuant on funding (kickstarter or NSF)

Proposed instruments:


JP Aerospace and their AWAY balloons
Other hackerspaces that flew balloons last summer

Log from old Google Wave: Josh, Hoyle, Anna:

Hoyle: High altitude balloon project:

Sparkfun's project:

Oct 2, 2010

Hoyle: I have no idea what I'm doing with this yet, but we'll figure it out as we go I guess Oct 2, 2010

Me: larger balloons and other high altitude tech: Oct 2, 2010


That's retail $89 for a really nice balloon. Ebay has similar or lesser for $6-$50. Oct 2, 2010

Me: These ideas were interesting last night: - multiple light, integrated balloons - active measurement between the balloons (light or carbon pollution, particulates, positioning, data xfer) - live telemetry during flight (HAM/wifi/cell or ??) maybe/unlikely live images - 360-degree video - night flight/launch party - visible display - strobe/LED - changes with environment - standard sensors - must do "something more" than other balloons Oct 2, 2010

Me: Harder to implement ideas: -active control - live video/images - visibility at altitude - 3+ balloons as performers - rocket launch at altitude Oct 2, 2010

Me: CubeSat could be an interesting platform but is probably to restrictive for this project. Oct 2, 2010

Me: JP Aerospace latest balloon flights - in terms of practical experience these guys are probably the best amateur-science balloonists in the world: Oct 9, 2010

Hoyle: Oct 30, 2010

Me: Nov 2, 2010

Me: Two things: should we buy the Sparkfun board or build our own? And who is going to pay for the materials that we don't have on hand? I've got some friends that might chip in, should we do it informally or with Kickstarter? Dec 15, 2010