HacDC Spaceblimp 5

From HacDC Wiki

Sb5 IMG 9220.JPG

Spaceblimp-5 Launched: July 9, 2011


This time we were going for altitude, and we got it! The max recorded altitude was 118,533 ft!

The launch site was: Strasburg VA, in a open area near the town on Rt 11, near the I-81. Lat: 38.9968 N Lon: 78.3508W

Sb5 launch still.jpg Sb5 track.jpg

There were two radios on board the blimp that transmitted out the GPS data:

  • The primary radio was tied to the GPS and transmitted out to a network of amateur radio enthusiasts who then passed the location information on to get mapped here: We also ran some custom software that passes this data on to a Twitter account (once per minute!) which you could follow on your phone: DC Spaceblimp Primary Twitter Feed. (Click the link in the Twitter to pull up a map!)
  • The secondary radio was actually a GSM cell phone module, and broadcasted its data when in range of a cell tower. It broadcasted both GPS data for tracking, and a lot of the sensor data for science. It also twittered through Society Of Robots Twitter Feed.

Pictures and Video



For now, here is the raw accelerometer data: Media: spaceblimp5_accelerometer.csv.gz

Analysis to come in the next few days....

Flight Tracker

Launch Plans

Planned launch date: Saturday, July 9, 2011
Launch time: 10:00 AM, Launch should take less than an hour.
Launch Location:

Strasburg, VA

Coordination/Talk-in: 146.685 MHz simplex (this might change, please monitor Twitter (@HacDCSpaceblimp) and mailing list for updates.
Planned Altitude: 120,000 Feet
Planned Ascent Rate: 1,000 feet/minute
Planned Descent Rate: 1,000 feet/minute
Primary Beacon: Son-of-WhereAVR with ublox GPS. Yaesu VX-1 handi-talkie with 1 W Transmitter, call sign W3HAC-11 (map), Frequency 144.390 MHz
Secondary Beacon: GSM mobile phone modue, uBlox GPS
Payload: 9 DOF IMU, Geiger counter, temperature, pressure, humidity, and light sensors


The payload contains a couple cameras:

  • a video camera (Canon Zi6)
  • a still camera (Canon Powershot A-480) running custom firmware to get better exposures from space

and a lot of instrumentation:

  • a geiger counter
  • 9 degree-of-freedom IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit on Wikipedia)
  • high-speed (50 sample/sec) accelerometer
  • internal and external temperature sensors
  • humidity sensor
  • air pressure sensor
  • IR and visible light sensors
  • a solar panel, hooked up to measure the voltage
HacDC Spaceblimp Project:
Main Page Press Page First Launch (Found) Second Launch (Successful)
Third Launch (Successful) Fourth Launch (Successful) Fifth Launch (3% short of goal) Sixth Launch (Successful) Seventh Launch (Successful)

HacDC Spaceblimp Team Contact Info:
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