Public Lab Research note

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Youth Balloon Mapping Workshop Complete!

by mjain26 | July 28, 2014 17:00 28 Jul 17:00 | #10986 | #10986

What I want to do

I created a balloon mapping workshop for youth.

My attempt and results

I spent about a month creating the cirriculum. Here is the link to the first draft. Here is the link to the second draft. On July 21st and 22nd, I tried leading a workshop to 12-15 fifth through eighth graders with Benjamin Sugar. On the first day, we had them build 4 different camera housings. On the second day, we flew one "good" housing and one "bad" housing. Our goal was to show the participants how small errors in the beginning can lead to larger errors in the final result. Unfortunately, the pictures did not turn out well. Also, we found on the second day, there simply wasn't enough for the participants to do, so there was always somebody who was bored. Other than the issues with the participants, we found that 1. the images were overexposed and 2. the balloon was traveling further horizontally than vertically. Benjamin Sugar is going to post a note that I will later link to mine with the results.

Pictures from construction







Pictures from flight








Questions and next steps

Our goal is to be able to host this workshop for other student groups. Any suggestion, comment or critique would be greatly appreciated. We are trying to refine the curriculum. Also, regarding the technology, how do we get the balloon to travel further vertically (rather than horizontally)? What settings should the camera be on so the images do not turn out overexposed (we had it on infinity and continuous)?


Here are the files used in the workshop! The file titled "tailoredoutlineshwanrda" is a condensed version of the outline. The file titled "outline1" is the expanded version. The file titled "MASTERTEMPLATE" is the handout for the participants.




Suggestions thus far

These suggestions are from the research note comments and the public lab lists (chicago, education, and grassroots mapping) 1. On a windy day, try using a kite. 2. On a windy day, try using 20-30% more helium. 3. To address the overexposure, try taking a picture of the horizon before the flight to use as a guide to adjust the contrast and focus settings. 4. On a windy day, fly the balloon off of a kite to maximize height and range. 5. Suggested exposure settings on a bright day: For a bright day, typical settings might be: ISO at the lowest (80 or 100), white balance on sunny or cloudy, focus mode on infinity, and exposure compensation on 0 or -2/3.

NOTE: I wil try to keep updating the suggestions as much as possible.

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Sounds fun! here are a few pointers re: your problems. IT helps to take a first picture of the horizon to set the contrast and focus.

always try to put in about 20-30% more lift in the balloon than your payload so that it can travel more vertically and stay up without being effected by the wind.

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