Public Lab Research note

Android smartphone/Python Script to capture images from a balloon.

by LummiGIS | July 31, 2014 22:34 31 Jul 22:34 | #11002 | #11002

We used an old Android smartphone, the Scripting Language for Android (SL4A), and Python to auto trigger the phones camera while suspended from a balloon. This was a nice alternative to purchasing a camera since I had the old phone sitting around and no rubber banding the camera button was needed. While there was an app available from the Google Play store to auto capture images, the app only captured low resolution images with a max 10 second delay.

The phone needs to have SL4A installed ( and Python ( The installation instructions are available from the download sites.

The script when executed, will prompt the user for a delay time (seconds before image capture begins), the total number of images to capture, and the number of seconds of delay between captures.

Be sure to set the phone settings to ensure that the phone will not go into sleep mode. I had to design a holder out of foam, duct tape, and a sheet of plastic to ensure that the screen did not touch the foam, nor were any buttons pressed during flight.

You are welcome to write me for the script. I tired to post the script below but this site is not treating it very well. I am sure you hackers can figure it out! Gerry:

try: print "Android/SL4A Balloon Camera Auto Shooter" print "Created by Gerry Gabrisch GISP, GIS Manager Lummi Indian Business Council." print "" print "Copy? Right! 2014, No rights reserved."

import android
import time
droid = android.Android()

delay = droid.dialogGetInput('Input 1','Delay before starting?','60').result
numberOfShots = droid.dialogGetInput('Input 2','Total images to capture?', '20').result
delayBetweenShots = droid.dialogGetInput('Input 3','Delay (Seconds) between captures','30').result
droid.ttsSpeak('taking pictures in'+  delay +'seconds')
counter = 1
droid.ttsSpeak('taking pictures now')
while counter <=int(numberOfShots):
    droid.cameraCapturePicture('/sdcard/DCIM/Camera/'+str(counter)+ ".jpg")
    counter +=1
    if counter != int(numberOfShots):

print "done without error..."
droid.ttsSpeak('Finished without error...')
del droid

except: print "error!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" del droid


This is really neat. have you tried our own Skycam? it will take higher res photos.

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Be sure to put parantheses around the print or it will error out in line 23 of the code.

print "done without error..."

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Well, the best smartphone to take good camera in 2018 is between Huawei P20 Pro or the Galaxy Note 9. You can check out their comparison below;

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