Public Lab | Wiki documentation


  • Follow
  • Like

Balloon & Kite Mapping

10 Oct 14:51 78,980 views | Last edited by warren 6 months ago

Pierre's plastic Picavet

by cfastie | 3 days ago | 0 | 151 views | 0

I have been positioning the Redstone Rig as an upgrade to the soda bottle rig for holding cameras...

Read more »

Picavet vermont KAP kite-mapping


New KAP'n Hook

by cfastie | 6 days ago | 2 | 351 views | 2

I destroyed some more 3D printed parts in the guise of science today. This time I put a spring ba...

Read more »

vermont KAP kite-mapping balloon-mapping


mapping urban biosphere in Jerusalem

by hagitkeysar | 8 days ago | 0 | 442 views | 0

As part of a joint project named "Maree-Makom" (Hebrew for Reference, literal translation is See ...

Read more »

balloon-mapping kite aerial photography


AMS Science Club: Toxics Skycrane + Projected Impacts

by donblair | 10 days ago | 3 | 393 views | 1

What I want to do Solicit help from Amherst Middle School Science Club students in designing an ...

Read more »

balloon-mapping



Union Square MBTA Mapping

by kgradow1 | 10 days ago | 1 | 462 views | 2

Brief overview On Sunday April 6 seven of us met up in Union Square to map the proposed MBTA dev...

Read more »

balloon-mapping somerville union-square kite-mapping


Mapping the NVCC campus using a flower pot as a camera rig

by gustrow | 14 days ago | 5 | 676 views | 4

What I want to do This was part of my internship project at the Northern Virginia Community Coll...

Read more »

balloon-mapping chdk field-test near-infrared-camera


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

by JirkaPanek | 17 days ago | 2 | 780 views | 0

What I want to do As a part of my course Participatory GIS at the Department of Development Stud...

Read more »

balloon-mapping CHDK failure field-test


KAP'n Hook fail

by cfastie | 20 days ago | 5 | 624 views | 1

Peter Bults of KAPshop generously sent me a message when he saw the 3D printed KAP/BAP rigs I st...

Read more »

vermont KAP kite-mapping balloon-mapping



More research on "balloon-mapping" »


Title Last edited Edits Pageviews Likes
Mapping Curriculum: High Altitude Mapping 21 days ago by gonzoearth 8 748 0
Publish in the Public Lab Archive about 1 month ago by gonzoearth 20 3,690 0
NDVI from the PLOTS near infrared camera 2 months ago by cfastie 34 10,731 0
Sky Camera 2 months ago by warren 11 3,708 7
Helium 4 months ago by warren 9 2,744 0
Kingsland Park 6 months ago by gdotoli 1 808 0
Vermont Public Lab Organizing: Toxics Action Center and Public Lab! about 1 month ago by cfastie 10 2,637 1
Editing OpenStreetMap with your own aerial maps 10 months ago by liz 12 3,217 1
Balloon Mapping Media 11 months ago by warren 4 1,741 0
3d Mapping 12 months ago by warren 3 1,825 0
North Shore, Mass, Mapping Meetup: Pavilion Beach, Ipswich -- April 6, 2013 about 1 year ago by wward1400 18 5,461 0
Air Column Monitor 6 months ago by liz 10 3,654 1
Tidmarsh Farms meetup over 1 year ago by pablo 18 3,212 0
Grassroots Mapping youth curriculum over 1 year ago by warren 3 1,287 2
State of the Map, my slides & notes over 1 year ago by mathew 1 1,413 0
Hydrogen Balloons 2 months ago by mathew 6 4,370 1
Helium Kite over 1 year ago by mathew 4 1,999 2
Payload Weight over 1 year ago by mathew 3 1,337 0
Picavet Rigging over 1 year ago by mathew 6 4,724 0
Canon A495 Tips over 1 year ago by cfastie 14 3,567 0
Bamboo/tyvek kite and solar balloon construction workshop almost 2 years ago by liz 32 4,807 0
dual camera trigger 29 days ago by mathew 4 2,461 1
GrassrootsMappingBelizeMarch10 almost 2 years ago by warren 2 1,041 2
GrassrootsMappingBelizeMarch5 almost 2 years ago by warren 2 1,047 2
GrassrootsMappingBelizeFeb25 almost 2 years ago by warren 2 1,024 2
GrassrootsMappingBelizeFeb21 almost 2 years ago by warren 2 995 2
Grassroots Mapping Coal River almost 2 years ago by warren 2 1,177 2
Google Earth Publishes Community-created Maps from the Public Lab Archive about 2 years ago by Shannon 1 1,124 2
March Mapping Madness-Boston about 2 years ago by warren 9 2,164 2
March Mapping Madness NY-NJ-CT about 2 years ago by liz 33 4,347 0

How Can I Do This?

Our whole toolkit is linked out below, but really fast:

  1. Buy our balloon kit, assemble your own, or buy/make a kite.
  2. find a good camera.
  3. determine how you will trigger the camera, (we suggest a rubber band) or pick out a timelapse app for your smartphone.
  4. build a simple housing from a plastic bottle.
  5. find a site to map that is five miles from an airport and not Washington D.C. (or learn about the regulations yourself)
  6. follow the pre-flight checklist(pdf) and quickstart guide(pdf) to safely fill up your balloon and fly!
  7. maneuver your balloon at your site
  8. sort your images on your desktop 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, and if you'd like, even in Google Earth.
  11. Share your expertise with others and help stitch maps by joining the Cartography Collective

Willie Schubert over at the GeoJournalism Handbook has made a printable walk-through including many of these steps

Why Balloons and Kites?

These tools are being developed to provide a low cost, easy to use, and safe methods for making maps and aerial images. Over the last two years, we’ve built a global community of mappers who are engaged in discussion around the development and use of this tool and others.

Normally aerial maps are made from satellites and airplanes. The balloon and kite ground-based approach introduces an on-demand capability where events or environmental conditions are mapped at a specific moment in time. Our community is particularly interested in applying this to civic and environmental issues.

Maps are often used by those in power to exert influence over territory, or control territorial narratives. "Grassroots mapping" attempts to invert this dynamic by using maps as a mode of communication and as evidence for an alternative, community-owned definition of a territory. To date, our tools have been used to contest official maps or rhetoric by enabling communities to map sites that are not included in official maps. In Lima Peru, members of an informal settlement developed maps of their community as evidence of their habitation, while on the Gulf Coast of the US, locally produced maps of oil are being used to document damage that is underreported by the state.

Browse maps and data generated with this technique in the Public Laboratory Archive

Browse Research Notes on Balloon Mapping


A short video by Mathew Lippincott on setting up and launching your balloon.


Applications and Example Uses

Residents of the Gulf Coast are using balloons and kites to produce their own aerial imagery of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill… documentation that will be essential for environmental and legal use in coming years. We believe in complete open access to spill imagery and are releasing all imagery from the oil spill mapping project into the public domain. Browse maps and data from the Gulf Coast and elsewhere in the Public Laboratory Archive

Lake Borgne, Louisiana

Get Involved

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:

Flight platforms: Assembling a balloon kit will cost from $100-200, including helium.

Camera housings: Single Line systems: The 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.

Multiple Line Systems: these are more complex to build but can provide added stability, especially useful for video. Several people have created Picavet rigs.

Cameras: A small camera that supports continuous shooting mode and a large storage card, or an excellent camera phone are our preferred options.

Mapmaking software: Public Laboratory's MapKnitter is easy to use browser software for map making. Continue on to MapKnitter Guide and MapKnitter Help for more information.

Useful guides: Our latest guides can always be found on the Guides page, including:

Curricula and workshops: Our Curriculum-Guide covers the entire process and some theory behind mapping. It is still in beta.

Advanced Techniques

Places to start contributing


Tags: warren Proven in the field tabbed:notes tabbed:wikis proven-in-the-field tool list:grassrootsmapping