Public Lab Research note

Collaboratively write the new Pocket Guide to Grassroots Mapping

by warren | | 628 views | 30 comments |

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As we gear up for the launch of our new Mini Kite and Balloon Kits, we're looking to revisit, revise, and update one of our most classic collaborative works -- the Guide to Grassroots Mapping with Balloons and Kites.

From early on, this illustrated guide helped get the word out on paper, and long before we began distributing physical kits, we spread this PDF far and wide. It's been translated into over a dozen languages (including Arabic, Spanish, Ukranian, Portuguese, Korean, Russian, Turkish, Dutch, and German) adapted, updated, and occasionally Frankensteined into many different versions.

For this campaign, we wanted to take some time to collate and organize the best of these guides into a new, pocket-sized guide. And we'd like to ask all balloon and kite mappers to help out, in a massively collaborative writing project!

image description

Start contributing!

Here's an editable Google Doc of the guide. To keep things simpler for now, we're going to ask people to leave short comments: ideas, corrections, and suggested text -- please break them up into 140 characters max, so we can try to respond to each separately!

To begin editing, open the document here.

And of course, leave comments below if you have questions in general! I'm sure there will be a LOT of things to figure out as we go.

See some of our oldest guides here: (the document above is based on our most recent 2.0 version

In Arabic: image description

In Ukranian:

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And our add-on "Quick start guide":

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I did this Help out by offering feedback!

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None yet. Be the first to post one!


Saw some great suggestions -- i also added a "wind scale" table riffing on the Beaufort scale, with advice on what to fly in what conditions (types of kites, balloons) and how to estimate the wind speed from things like flags, treetops. But it could use a lot more work!

Thanks for input @cfastie and @xose!!

We're going to try to prepare this at it's current state for the first printing with the AS220 Printshop. I downloaded this as a PDF and Word doc, and am trying to figure out the best way to reformat for booklet:



Final cover with CC-BY-SA, in negative and positive:



I can help with translation into Danish

Best regards

Modded illustration on p18:


OK, i set it up so you can print it 2-sided on letter paper, then cut the whole stack in half, place the top stack over the bottom stack, then fold and staple to make the booklet:

Intermediate step: booklet-publiclab-pre.pdf

Final: booklet-publiclab-final.pdf


OK, one more version with page numbers!


Tweaking the scale a bit (i know that's unfortunate, but I'm having some clipping issues) so I bookletize the above at 65%, then double up spreads (so four pages per side) at 220%.

Here it is with the final page reordering: booklet-publiclab-1-pagenumbers-reordered.pdf

And here, 4-up and ready for printing:


Looking good! The cutout front (which we may not go ahead with) doesn't line up exactly for me, but it's pretty close and we may be able to make it work... remains to be seen in the final prints:


Now with outlined text:


This is going to press! Final paper choices:

Interior: Rolland Hitech 140M / 70lb, letter size, True White, Smooth, 17.50M - 104 g/m2 Cover: Elements by Paperworks, at 80lb cover, kraft

Whoops! Missed a couple blue links -- here it is outlines, with all text black:


@xose -- it's actually Kite Month in the US -- -- so if you post your booklet (no rush, just excited!) we can do some outreach in both languages!

Also linking back to the announcement that these are now available!


Ooook amigas here it is. Just the text. I've just wrote the texts on the images in a paper and tomorrow I'll upload the edited images on the same document. I don't know if it's correct but i've signed "traducido por". If not, simply erase ;) A question @warren: second page must be translated or are just the guidelines for the past collective writing?

Guía de bolsillo para el mapeo colectivo con globos y cometas

I've just translated one page of the Flight log. I'm not a google docs savy user. I can't erase the lines, just the content ;D

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

OMGGGGGGG this is so exciting.

The second page I left in so people know even the paper version is open to change!

What an amazing job! The credit looks great too. What can we do to help?

Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Here's the PDF in spanish

I'm bookletizing it with this: CreateBooklet1.1.dmg

Here's the 1-column version:

And here's the 1 column PDF:


And paginated into a booklet!!!


My printer is out of toner 😂

I'll try later in the week!

It worked!




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