This has been something I’ve been working on for almost 6 months now, and I still haven’t gotten a single successful launch over 100 feet (and even then I didn’t know where it was if it wasn’t for my own sight).
The goal is to get a SBC (Single Board Computer, remember we talked about them in my past posts?), most likely a Pi Zero since it’s super light, add some microprocessors to it, and then attach it to a big helium balloon where it can theoretically get up to 100km (which is basically space – you can see Earth from a third person perspective).
But I haven’t gotten anywhere close. Ok, so you need to use GPS (so the device knows where it’s at, but GPS is one-way, so it can’t send that info to you). So then you use a combination of other technologies, like GSM (we are all familiar with that one, that’s what our cell phones run off of, but minor problem, they only work up until 10k feet (3.3k km) which you’ll remember if ever landing or taking off from a plane). Once you go to a certain altitude, it just flat out stops working.
So then you have LoRa and ARPS. Both are consumer communication technologies, but you don’t need a license to use them (careful, I’m speaking about the US, in other countries, like the UK, you do need a license). Now these can only send very small amounts of data, but that’s all you need, you just need to know where it is. The photos you don’t actually try and download while it’s up there, they would take an hour a piece to download. And even those technologies don’t work all the way up, so basically you track it as far as you can until you lose the signal, by doing some simple math you can tell when it should be returning to Earth (and therefore when to start looking for it again). It needs a parachute (you don’t want it to get destroyed) but that’s a good thing because it slows the decent down to give you time to connect to it again. And hopefully you do, and hopefully it’s in the same state. Lol.