Raspberry Crusoe: how a Pi got mislaid during sea

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The story of a tiny HAB that could and a three-month tour from Portslade Aldridge

High-altitude ballooning

Some of we might be informed with Raspberry Pi being used as a moody computer, or tracker, of high-altitude balloon (HAB) payloads. For those who aren’t, high-altitude ballooning is a comparatively elementary activity (at slightest in principle) where a tracker is trustworthy to a vast continue balloon that is afterwards expelled into a atmosphere. While a HAB ascends, a tracker takes cinema and information readings a whole time. Eventually (around 30km up) a balloon bursts, withdrawal a cargo giveaway to deplane and be recovered. For a improved explanation, I’m handing over to a students of UTC Oxfordshire:

Skycademy

Over a past few years, we’ve seen schools and their students try a possibilities that high-altitude ballooning offers, and behind in 2015 and 2016 we ran Skycademy. The programme was elementary enough: get a garland of educators together in a same space, uncover them how to launch a balloon flight, and afterwards send them behind to their students to try and repeat what they’ve learned. Since a initial Skycademy event, a series of participants have carried out launches, and we are intensely unapproachable of any and any one of them.

The box of a declining PACA HAB

Not any launch has been a 100% success though. There are many things that can and do go wrong during HAB flights, and examination any launch from a comfort of a bureau can be a harrowing experience. We had such an knowledge behind in Jul 2017, during a launch achieved by Skycademy connoisseur and Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Dave Hartley and his students from Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA).

Dave and his group had been operative on their cargo for some time, and were available suitable continue conditions. Early one Wednesday in July, all aligned: they had a slight window of good continue and so set their launch devise in motion. Soon they had fabricated a cargo in a propagandize drift and all was prepared for a launch.

Just before 11:00, they’d finished their final checks and expelled their cargo into a atmosphere. Over a march of 64 minutes, a HAB usually rose to an altitude of 25647m, where it prisoner some extraordinary cinema before a balloon detonate and a fast skirmish began.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi

Soon after a cargo began to descend, a group beheld something worrying: their likely skirmish trail took a cargo dangerously distant south — it was melancholy to land in a sea. As a cargo continued to remove altitude, their distributed formula kept shifting, alternately presaging a alighting on a belligerent or out to sea. Eventually it became transparent that a cargo would narrowly mistake a land, and it finally landed about 2 km out to sea.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

The trail of a balloon

It’s not odd for a HAB cargo to get lost. There are many ways this can happen, quite in a slight nation with a prevalent eastward breeze such as a UK. Payloads can get mislaid during sea, land somewhere inaccessible, or simply run out of energy before they are located and retrieved. So normally, this would be a finish of a story for a PACA students — even if a group had had a speedboat to hand, their cargo was certainly mislaid for good.

A summary from Denmark

However, this is not a finish of a story! A integrate of months later, we arrived during work and saw this twitter from a colleague:
Anyone mislaid a Raspberry Pi HAB? Someone found this one on a beach in south western Denmark yesterday #UKHAS https://t.co/7lBzFiemgr

Good Samaritan Henning Hansen had found a Raspberry Pi cleared adult on a remote beach in Denmark! While walking a widen of seashore to collect cosmetic waste for an environmental monitoring project, he came opposite something surprising nearby a seaside during 55°04’53.0″N and 8°38’46.9″E.

This of march irritated my interest, and we began to examine a picture he had common on Facebook.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

Inspecting a print closely, we beheld a tiny item tag — a kind of tag that, over a year earlier, we’d stranded to any and any bit of Skycademy margin kit. We excitedly claimed a pack on interest of Dave and his students, and contacted Henning to arrange a liberation of a payload. He told us it contingency have been carried ashore with a waves some time between 21 and 27 September, and substantially on 21 September, given that day had a top waves over a period. This meant a cargo contingency have spent over dual months during sea!

From a print we could tell that a Raspberry Pi had suffered poignant corrosion, carrying been unprotected to salt H2O for so long, and so we felt desperate about a chances that there would be any recoverable information on it. However, Henning pronounced that he’d been means to review some files from a FAT assign of a SD card, so all wish was not lost!

After a few weeks and a series of complications around dispatch and smoothness (thank you, Henning, for your gigantic patience!), Helen collected a HAB from a internal Post Office.

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

SUCCESS!

We set about perplexing to review a information from a SD card, and eventually became disheartened: notwithstanding several attempts, we were incompetent to review a contents.

In a last-ditch effort, we gave a SD label to Jonathan, one of a engineers, who primarily laughed during a awaiting of recuperating any information from it. But 10 mins later, he returned with news of success!

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi

Since then, we’ve been means to reunite a cargo with a PACA launch team, and a students sent us a ideal summary to finish this story:

Portslade Aldridge Community Academy Skycademy Raspberry Pi High Altitude Ballooning

Source: Raspberry Pi blog

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