Public Lab Research note

Balloon mapping at the Department of Development Studies, Olomouc, Czech Republic

by JirkaPanek | April 01, 2014 11:06 01 Apr 11:06 | #10246 | #10246

What I want to do

As a part of my course Participatory GIS at the Department of Development Studies, Palacky Univeristy in Olomouc, Czech Republic, I wanted to show students low-cost mapping techniques. One of them was balloon mapping. We didnt succeed in our first attempt, but as a scientist I believe also failure is a good lesson, so I decided to share it with you...

My attempt and results

We had basic balloon kit from PublicLab, as a camera I used Canon A2500 with Simple Interferometer Script uploaded via CHDK. We had only limited amount of helium - that was our main problem, we used 450l of helium = 0,45 m3, which should lift up to 0,5kg, but it didnt. The outside temperature was about 10 degrees Celsius and we were in altitude about 200m.

Questions and next steps

I guess we should used much more helium and be much careful with filling in the balloon, but if you have any other suggestions, please let me know. It was my first attempt!

Why I'm interested

As I work as junior-lecturer at the department I focus on open-source GIS and low-cost spatial technologies, which can be used in developing countries. Any hints, ideas, collaboration proposals are welcomed.


Glad to see you tryiing! the balloon will hold up to 2400 liters (87 cu ft). 450 liters will lift almost 500g, but the balloon weighs 350g. with hardware, line, and maybe a little loss at filling, that doesn't leave much spare lift.

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Yes we realized that lack of Helium was our main challenge, but we will try it once more, with double the amount, I hope that will solve it...Thanks for advice!

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