balloon-mapping

Balloon mapping is a low-cost way to take aerial photos using a camera, attached to a balloon, on a spool of string. People have done this from a few hundred feet up all the way to over 4,000 feet in the air. **** Our whole toolkit is linked out below, but really fast: 1. [Assemble your own](/wiki/balloon-mapping-materials), [buy our balloon kit](http://store.publiclab.org/products/balloon-mapping-kit), or [buy/make a kite](/wiki/kite-mapping). 2. [find a good camera](/wiki/camera-selection). 3. [determine how you will trigger the camera](/wiki/camera-trigger), (we suggest a rubber band) or pick out a [timelapse app for your smartphone](/wiki/timelapse-apps). 4. build a [simple housing from a plastic bottle](/wiki/pet-bottle-rubber-band-rig). 5. find a site to map that is five miles from an airport and [not Washington D.C.](/wiki/mapping-curriculum-regulatory) (or [learn about the regulations](/wiki/balloon-mapping-regulations) yourself) 6. [follow the pre-flight checklist(pdf)](/sites/default/files/Balloon%20Mapping%20Pre-flight%20Checklist%20&%20Packing%20List.pdf) and [quickstart guide(pdf)](/sites/default/files/BalloonMappingQuickStartGuide1English.pdf) to safely fill up your balloon and fly! 7. [maneuver your balloon at your site](http://publiclab.org/notes/gonzoearth/1-2-2013/balloon-mapping-ground-public-labs-field-techniques) 8. sort your images on your desktop ([Mac](/notes/mathew/1-30-2012/efficient-image-sorting-finder-preview-mac),[Windows](/notes/eustatic/06-08-2014/tips-on-sorting-on-windows-including-re-naming-filenames)) or with [Mapmill](http://mapmill.org/). 9. make them into a map with [Mapknitter](https://mapknitter.org). 10. Print a poster of your map from Mapknitter, see your map join the public record in our [archive](/archive), and if you'd like, even in [Google Earth](http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2012/04/public-labs-community-created-maps-land-on-google-earth109.html). [Willie Schubert over at the GeoJournalism Handbook has made a printable walk-through including many of these steps](http://geojournalism.org/2013/08/balloon-mapping-how-to-make-your-own-low-flying-satellite/) ## Activities [activities:balloon-mapping] **** ### Questions about balloon mapping: [questions:balloon-mapping] <b>Browse maps and data generated with this technique in the</b> [Public Laboratory Archive](/archive) <b> Browse [Research Notes on Balloon Mapping](/notes/balloon-mapping) </b> <iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/3p9puTHOCR0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> _A short video by [Mathew Lippincott](/profile/mathew) on setting up and launching your balloon._ **** ###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: <b><i>Flight platforms:</i> </b>Assembling a balloon kit will cost from $100-200, including helium. * The Public Laboratory [Balloon Mapping Kit](/wiki/balloon-mapping-kit) is assembled from our preferred parts. * For alternative and low-cost materials, see the [Balloon Mapping Materials page](http://publiclaboratory.org/wiki/balloon-mapping-materials). * [Use this chart to calculate the lift you'll need.](http://www.chem.hawaii.edu/uham/lift.html) <b><i>Camera housings:</i></b> Single Line systems: [The PET Bottle & Rubber Band Rig](/wiki/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.](/wiki/trash-can-rig-heavy-cameras) Multiple Line Systems: these are more complex to build but can provide added stability, especially useful for video. [Several people have created Picavet rigs.](/wiki/picavet-rigging) <b><i>Cameras:</i></b> A small camera that supports continuous shooting mode and a large storage card, or an excellent camera phone are our preferred options. * Help [selecting a camera](/wiki/camera-selection) * Different ways of [triggering the camera shutter](/wiki/camera-trigger) <b><i>Mapmaking software:</i></b> Public Laboratory's [MapKnitter](https://mapknitter.org) is easy to use browser software for map making. Continue on to [MapKnitter Guide](http://publiclaboratory.org/wiki/mapknitter) and [MapKnitter Help](http://publiclaboratory.org/wiki/mapknitter-help) for more information. * When mapmaking, efficient image sorting [either on your desktop](https://publiclab.org/notes/mathew/1-30-2012/efficient-image-sorting-finder-preview-mac), or using [Mapmill](/wiki/upon-return) is a must. * Some people also use proprietary software such as Photoshop, [Hypr3d](http://publiclaboratory.org/notes/warren/2-10-2012/thatchmore-farms-hypr3d-model), or [PhotoSynth](http://publiclaboratory.org/notes/lpercifield/6-28-2011/3d-point-cloud). For a freely distributed desktop option, check out the <a href="http://www.gimp.org/">GNU Image Manipulation Program</a>. <b><i>Useful guides:</i></b> Our latest guides can always be found on the [Guides](/guides) page, including: * The four-page [Grassroots Mapping Guide](https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1BJxYKVYdUimf5s3hOVoQCWPoj1UinaIaAEKF65Q2pbc/edit#slide=id.g84b9a2f_1_14) * The [Balloon Mapping Quick Start Guide to filling and flying](http://archive.publiclaboratory.org/download/balloon-mapping-quickstart-1.0-en.pdf) (pdf) and [editable Google Doc](https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1f397WvHyZtwyDEqXIIrNpLBfNfw2accAWzQhdvhg4TA/edit) * The [Balloon Mapping Check Lists](https://publiclab.org/sites/default/files/balloon-mapping-preflight-checklist.pdf) (pdf) and [editable Google Doc](https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1UUiQt-p2npJiIi48v_3o2_keeqEEzHc1yONybGeYF-E/edit), which are extremely useful in planning field expeditions, even for experienced fliers. * We also maintain a [guide to FAA regulations](/wiki/balloon-mapping-regulations) page. <b><i>Curricula and workshops:</i></b> Our [Curriculum-Guide](/wiki/mapping-curriculum) covers the entire process and some theory behind mapping. It is still in beta. ###Advanced Techniques### * [Near-infrared imagery](/tool/near-infrared-camera) for vegetation monitoring and other uses. * [Image analysis](/wiki/image-analysis) - Try some of these techniques for bringing out detail and compositing your images with [near-infrared imagery](/tool/near-infrared-camera). * [Ground control point targets](/wiki/ground-control-point-targets) for correlating on-the-ground measurements directly with photos. * [Balloon telemetry](/tool/balloon-telemetry-kit) for recording GPS and gyroscopic data. * [Kite Balloons](/tool/kite-balloon-hybrid) experiments in wind-stabilized balloons * [Hydrogen ballooning](/wiki/hydrogen-balloons) - be very careful!

Subscribe
Learn more »

Ask a question about balloon-mapping Subscribe to answer questions on this topic

by views by likes



See more people near here

Public Lab is open for anyone and will always be free. By signing up you'll join a diverse group of community researchers and tap into a lot of grassroots expertise.

Sign up