Public Lab Wiki documentation

Balloon Mapping Guide

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An Illustrated Guide to Grassroots Mapping with Balloons and Kites

Do you want to make maps? Do you need satellite images but can't afford them? Do you want to see your home from above? Follow these instructions and you can, for as little as $100!

The Public Lab Balloon Mapping Kit

The Balloon Mapping Kit distributed by Public Lab is one way for you to take aerial photographs.

Your kit contains:

--5.5 foot (170cm) reusable* balloon made of a latex/chloroprene (neoprene) mix

--1000 feet (305m) of 110lb test (55 kilo) Dacron line, pre-wound on an 8" hoop winder

--protective canvas gloves for handling the line. Thin line can cause burns to unprotected hands.

--three high-strength (270lb) swivel clips. For attaching the balloon and camera twenty rubber bands. for making a camera cradle

--reusable ties. for closing the balloon (3 hook/loop or 10 plastic)

--one 1" rubber ring. for attaching the balloon to the line

--one steel carabiner. for anchoring the balloon on the ground

--two aluminum mini carabiners. for attaching cameras to the line

--printed instruction booklet

Where we purchase the components of our balloon mapping kits:

--Our mapping balloons are purchased wholesale from MSR Balloons. We purchase 5.5 foot chloroprene balloons. If you wanted to buy one without buying wholesale you may not want to buy from the same manufacturer as they are a wholesaler. If you have an interest in buying wholesale balloons, visit their website here:

--The 1000' reel is purchased from the Shanti Kite company. Similar to the mapping balloons, we buy them wholesale and in this case the item is somewhat custom. This is not the case with all of our kits. Please contact if you would like information on ordering the 1000' reels

-- Canvas gloves are purchased from McMaster Carr. This is a direct link to the item

-- The swivels are purchased from Tackle Direct. This is a direct link to the item:

--O-rings are also purchased from McMaster Carr. The item number is 9452K404, there is no direct link to that specific item but you can find that item on this page:

--The carabiner is also from McMaster Carr. Again, the page does not link to the item directly, but the item number is 3933T22 on this page

-- The mini carabiners are found here:

--The reusable velcro ties are found also on McMaster Carr. The item number is 6605K11 and the item cane be found on this page: