The aim of this project is to create a beginner's high altitude balloon tracker. We hope to document our code well enough that other users will also be able to follow our work. The tracker uses an Arduino, which is a low cost, USB programmable microprocessor. We also are using an FSA03 gps module, as this happens to be what we had access to, and a standard radio transmitter.
Our future plan is to create an easy to follow user guide, with plug and play code, allowing schools or people interested in high altitude ballooning to get started easily.
The tracker was first tested on Nova 19. However the payload is currently stuck in a tree, so full data is not available.
The process of the tracker is:
A sample output of the tracker is:
$$<Call sign>,<ticks>,<time>,<lat in DD.DDDDD>,<long in DD.DDDDD>,< altitude (m)>,,<No. Sat>, *<CRC16 Checksum>
A summary of the set backs:
We had many setbacks, hopefully you can see these below!
Arduino Proto shield
FSA03 — datasheet
Radiometrix NTX2 Radio Transmitter. datasheet
Canon A560 With CHDK hack. CHDK
A Radio Aerial (A quarter wave whip, with Radials). Amateur Quarter Wave Ground Plane Antenna Calculator For a 434.650 MHz frequency, each whip must be 164mm. We used a bazooka dipole, with radials at the central node. Will explain with a full write up at a later date.
This is incomplete
You also need to write the software. You are welcome to use some of the code in the code here if you want, on the other hand if you follow the information at the start of this page, then you can also write your own following the steps shown.
Note, need to press the print button to engage secret menu, and trigger button to start program. If in canon mode the display button is pressed to turn the screen off, this will ensure that the battery is saved.
We are running with a 512MB card. Will probably use M1 (5MP), with JPEG compression on the medium (fine) option. It should take 327 photos, so an interval of 20-30 seconds required, so to get approx 2hours of photos.
On ground with Energiser single use lithium batteries (the posh expensive type!) the card capacity was the limiting factor. However operation at low temp was not tested.
We use ultra intervalometer code of the CHDK website. This seems to work well.