PIE5, Dave Akerman’s latest high altitude balloon with a Raspberry Pi Model A payload, was launched on Saturday morning in rural Cambridgeshire with the aid of his usual team and special guests Eben and Liz Upton from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Dozens of viewers watched the launch live via streaming video (available here, courtesy of RasPi.TV) and then tracked it using Spacenear’s map. The balloon headed East, crossed the English Channel and took in The Netherlands and Germany. It was last tracked over Switzerland just South of Berne. Apart from the distance, the other big news is that PIE5 broke the record for the highest amateur balloon broadcasting live images. The live images (including some joke pics at the end) are available here and were taken using an official Raspberry Pi camera module given to Dave by the Foundation.
It’s maximum altitude was 40,350m. This was slightly unexpected as it was supposed to “float” significantly lower than that. It is unknown where the balloon currently is but given it was over 20,000m at the time, it could have travelled significantly further and made it to France somewhere between Lyon and Dijon. (This is just speculation on my part given it’s course when contact was lost).
PIE5 was accompanied on its travels by another balloon called AVA. They diverged over The Netherlands and AVA headed in a more Easterly direction over Germany before flying over the Czech Republic. It eventually crashed into the side of an Austrian mountain where it was recovered by some hardy enthusiasts who skied out to it.
I really enjoyed watching the launch and tracking it – keep an eye on Dave Akerman’s blog (or this one!) for the next launch.