Balloon & Kite Mapping

Balloon mapping is a low-cost way to take aerial photos using a camera, attached to a balloon, on a spool of string. People have done this from a few hundred feet up all the way to over 4,000 feet in the air. **** Our whole toolkit is linked out below, but really fast: 1. [Assemble your own](/wiki/balloon-mapping-materials), [buy our balloon kit](, or [buy/make a kite](/wiki/kite-mapping). 2. [find a good camera](/wiki/camera-selection). 3. [determine how you will trigger the camera](/wiki/camera-trigger), (we suggest a rubber band) or pick out a [timelapse app for your smartphone](/wiki/timelapse-apps). 4. build a [simple housing from a plastic bottle](/wiki/pet-bottle-rubber-band-rig). 5. find a site to map that is five miles from an airport and [not Washington D.C.](/wiki/mapping-curriculum-regulatory) (or [learn about the regulations](/wiki/balloon-mapping-regulations) yourself) 6. [follow the pre-flight checklist(pdf)](/sites/default/files/Balloon%20Mapping%20Pre-flight%20Checklist%20&%20Packing%20List.pdf) and [quickstart guide(pdf)](/sites/default/files/BalloonMappingQuickStartGuide1English.pdf) to safely fill up your balloon and fly! 7. [maneuver your balloon at your site]( 8. sort your images on your desktop ([Mac](/notes/mathew/1-30-2012/efficient-image-sorting-finder-preview-mac),[Windows](/notes/eustatic/06-08-2014/tips-on-sorting-on-windows-including-re-naming-filenames)) or with [Mapmill]( 9. make them into a map with [Mapknitter]( 10. Print a poster of your map from Mapknitter, see your map join the public record in our [archive](/archive), and if you'd like, even in [Google Earth]( [Willie Schubert over at the GeoJournalism Handbook has made a printable walk-through including many of these steps]( ## Activities [activities:balloon-mapping] **** ### Questions about balloon mapping: [questions:balloon-mapping] <b>Browse maps and data generated with this technique in the</b> [Public Laboratory Archive](/archive) <b> Browse [Research Notes on Balloon Mapping](/notes/balloon-mapping) </b> <iframe width="640" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> _A short video by [Mathew Lippincott](/profile/mathew) on setting up and launching your balloon._ **** ###Grassroots Mapping Toolkit### Our aerial mapping toolkit is a simplified kite and balloon aerial photography system for easy and accessible high-resolution map-making. The tookit consists of: <b><i>Flight platforms:</i> </b>Assembling a balloon kit will cost from $100-200, including helium. * The Public Laboratory [Balloon Mapping Kit](/wiki/balloon-mapping-kit) is assembled from our preferred parts. * For alternative and low-cost materials, see the [Balloon Mapping Materials page]( * [Use this chart to calculate the lift you'll need.]( <b><i>Camera housings:</i></b> Single Line systems: [The PET Bottle & Rubber Band Rig](/wiki/pet-bottle-rubber-band-rig) wraps around the small and medium sized cameras (up to micro 4/3) for crash protection while firmly mounting it in a position for vertical images. For heavy cameras, a [Trash Can Rig offers more protection.](/wiki/trash-can-rig-heavy-cameras) Multiple Line Systems: these are more complex to build but can provide added stability, especially useful for video. [Several people have created Picavet rigs.](/wiki/picavet-rigging) <b><i>Cameras:</i></b> A small camera that supports continuous shooting mode and a large storage card, or an excellent camera phone are our preferred options. * Help [selecting a camera](/wiki/camera-selection) * Different ways of [triggering the camera shutter](/wiki/camera-trigger) <b><i>Mapmaking software:</i></b> Public Laboratory's [MapKnitter]( is easy to use browser software for map making. Continue on to [MapKnitter Guide]( and [MapKnitter Help]( for more information. * When mapmaking, efficient image sorting [either on your desktop](, or using [Mapmill](/wiki/upon-return) is a must. * Some people also use proprietary software such as Photoshop, [Hypr3d](, or [PhotoSynth]( For a freely distributed desktop option, check out the <a href="">GNU Image Manipulation Program</a>. <b><i>Useful guides:</i></b> Our latest guides can always be found on the [Guides](/guides) page, including: * The four-page [Grassroots Mapping Guide]( * The [Balloon Mapping Quick Start Guide to filling and flying]( (pdf) and [editable Google Doc]( * The [Balloon Mapping Check Lists]( (pdf) and [editable Google Doc](, which are extremely useful in planning field expeditions, even for experienced fliers. * We also maintain a [guide to FAA regulations](/wiki/balloon-mapping-regulations) page. <b><i>Curricula and workshops:</i></b> Our [Curriculum-Guide](/wiki/mapping-curriculum) covers the entire process and some theory behind mapping. It is still in beta. ###Advanced Techniques### * [Near-infrared imagery](/tool/near-infrared-camera) for vegetation monitoring and other uses. * [Image analysis](/wiki/image-analysis) - Try some of these techniques for bringing out detail and compositing your images with [near-infrared imagery](/tool/near-infrared-camera). * [Ground control point targets](/wiki/ground-control-point-targets) for correlating on-the-ground measurements directly with photos. * [Balloon telemetry](/tool/balloon-telemetry-kit) for recording GPS and gyroscopic data. * [Kite Balloons](/tool/kite-balloon-hybrid) experiments in wind-stabilized balloons * [Hydrogen ballooning](/wiki/hydrogen-balloons) - be very careful! ...

Learn more »

Title URL Last edited Edits Page Views Likes
Sky Camera /wiki/sky-camera over 6 years ago by mercyorangi 12 1,252 7
Balloon Mapping Media /wiki/balloon-mapping-media almost 8 years ago by warren 4 109 1
3d Mapping /wiki/3d-mapping almost 8 years ago by warren 3 88 -1
North Shore, Mass, Mapping Meetup: Pavilion Beach, Ipswich -- April 6, 2013 /wiki/plum-island-meetup almost 8 years ago by wward1400 18 183 0
Tidmarsh Farms meetup /wiki/tidmarsh-farms-meetup over 8 years ago by pablo 18 201 -1
State of the Map, my slides & notes /wiki/state-map-my-slides-notes over 8 years ago by mathew 1 164 0
Vermont Public Lab Organizing: Toxics Action Center and Public Lab! /wiki/vermont-public-lab-organizing-toxics-action-center-and-public-lab about 3 years ago by cfastie 11 207 1
Bamboo/tyvek kite and solar balloon construction workshop /wiki/bambootyvek-kite-and-solar-balloon-construction-workshop over 8 years ago by liz 32 292 -1
Helium /wiki/helium over 2 years ago by Bronwen 11 670 2
dual camera trigger /wiki/dual-camera-trigger almost 9 years ago by mathew 4 139 1
NDVI from the PLOTS near infrared camera /wiki/ndvi-plots-ir-kit about 5 years ago by cfastie 35 4,417 3
Canon A495 Tips /wiki/canon-a495-tips over 8 years ago by cfastie 14 491 0
GrassrootsMappingBelizeFeb21 /wiki/grassrootsmappingbelizefeb21 almost 9 years ago by warren 2 67 2
GrassrootsMappingBelizeFeb25 /wiki/grassrootsmappingbelizefeb25 almost 9 years ago by warren 2 35 3
GrassrootsMappingBelizeMarch5 /wiki/grassrootsmappingbelizemarch5 almost 9 years ago by warren 2 60 2
GrassrootsMappingBelizeMarch10 /wiki/grassrootsmappingbelizemarch10 almost 9 years ago by warren 2 53 2
Payload Weight /wiki/payload-weight over 8 years ago by mathew 3 104 -1
Hydrogen Balloons /wiki/hydrogen-balloons over 8 years ago by mathew 6 7,033 0
Grassroots Mapping Coal River /wiki/grassroots-mapping-coal-river over 4 years ago by mariakatosvich 3 90 2
Helium Kite /wiki/helium-kite over 8 years ago by mathew 4 347 0
Google Earth Publishes Community-created Maps from the Public Lab Archive /wiki/google-earth-publishes-community-created-maps-public-lab-archive almost 9 years ago by Shannon 1 60 2
Air Column Monitor /wiki/air-column-monitor about 8 years ago by liz 10 3,755 0
Editing OpenStreetMap with your own aerial maps /wiki/editing-openstreetmap-balloon-maps over 7 years ago by liz 12 733 2
Picavet Rigging /wiki/picavet-rigging over 5 years ago by cfastie 10 1,865 1