Any ideas for near space (weather) balloon telemetry?

Hey guys, I'm considering a project like the recently popular near space balloon project. The only twist is that it could float for several days/weeks at a time. The major problem I have is that I need some way to reliably communicate with the system. The balloon would have to send climate data, gps data, and maybe photos. A video feed would be good too. I'd have to be able to control its descent and control its cameras.

The issue I see is that many common systems are only good to about 40 miles which would still be way too short of a distance. Cellphones are obviously out of the question (way too unreliable up there). Satellite phones would break the bank. Power consumption is also a concern I have. I would consider getting an amateur radio license if you guys think it would help. 

Note:
I plan to use arduinos.

JP Aerospace does some of the stuff I want to do with this potential project. The photo is their Away 46 mission.

Picture of Any ideas for near space (weather) balloon telemetry?
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frollard4 years ago
Look up APRS radio.
DIY Emilio (author)  frollard4 years ago
Do you know how this is done with arduinos and similar microcontrollers?
The arduino/microcontroller doesn't make the radio...it would form the sensor measurements and provide the data to the radio. You still need a packet radio to get the information back down to the ground.
DIY Emilio (author)  frollard4 years ago
Sorry, that question was a bit vague. It's not an easy answer, but I was wondering how you would implement the signal into the code. It seems like it would be a bit more complicated than the xbee.
its identical to an xbee. The aprs radio has a serial port that you feed the data you want it to transmit, hence why I said, look up aprs radio.
DIY Emilio (author)  frollard4 years ago
Ah. Okay. I don't know how I missed that. Thanks for the info. It will be really useful if the project goes through. :)
gburchuk4 years ago
We use two methods, APRS via a Yaesu VX-8GR and a Spot tracker. Check out our website for everything you need, we have it all! www.sky-probe.com

We also have Arduino's, which I use to log the flight and show the flight path after the recovery.
DIY Emilio (author)  gburchuk4 years ago
You've got a cool selection of products. One thing that I'd like to see is a ham TV transmitter for balloons. All that I've seen would be too heavy if it wasn't the only thing on the balloon. Thanks. I may just order some stuff whenever I start my project.
rickharris4 years ago
Several projects for this here

http://www.picaxeforum.co.uk/search.php?searchid=314637
DIY Emilio (author)  rickharris4 years ago
The link doesn't work.
Soory it seems you have to be registered to make the search - Free and no bother hough there are several balloon projects described.

if not try this

http://www.hexoc.com/pages/apex/apex-ii.php
DIY Emilio (author)  rickharris4 years ago
That's pretty helpful. Thanks.
bwrussell4 years ago
Several issues here.
1. You will need an entirely different style of balloon/payload system. The payload on a string concept will be completely uncontrollable due to the moment around the string. You will need a blimp style with propulsion on balloon.
2. The balloon will continue to rise until it pops due to pressure differential. You could try to balance the weight of the payload and lifting ratio of the balloon (neutral bouncy) but that only works for one altitude, unless less you can adjust either of those properties mid flight and the ratio for a higher altitude will not lift the mass at sea level. You could set it for a very slow ascent but then you have no control over when it comes down.
3. Air traffic regulations. To launch a single shot up-down balloon you need the local FAA's approval so you don't interfere with scheduled air traffic. This is easy enough to do but what you would have to do is get approval for every air space your balloon traveled through. Since you don't know how the wind will change and carry your balloon this means you will have to try and get approval as it approaches each new region. The problem is exacerbated when you enter international or foreign air spaces.
4. Air currents. Air currents don't just move in a circle around the globe. The chances of your balloon coming back around the globe in the same continent, let alone country or state, are very low. The attached image shows how easy it would be for it to get caught going in circles over the ocean and if it gets caught in a jet stream I very much doubt any propulsion you can attach to will be sufficient to get it out.

Unless you can solve these questions, plus the communications I think this project is a one-shot. You send it up and it streams data until it loses power or crashes. Even then if you want it to stay up for longer than most of these launches you will need to solve the communications, air space approval, and bouncy issues.
DIY Emilio (author)  bwrussell4 years ago
I'm fine on 1-3. I figured out how to make a custom balloon envelope last at a predetermined altitude, and I've got FAA regulations sorted out. 4 is another concern though. I'm trying to figure out how to keep the balloon on track with only minimal solar power from flexible PVs. Thanks for the input. Do you have any suggestions?
And here's the pic I forgot. :D
Wind Map.jpg
Kiteman4 years ago
If you want it to be up for that long, you're going to lose it several continents away!
DIY Emilio (author)  Kiteman4 years ago
That's why I need to be able to control it with long-range radio. It should come back around, or I may come up with some propulsion.