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SpeedBall Transatlantic Balloon at Maker Faire Detroit

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SpeedBall Transatlantic Balloon at Maker Faire Detroit

One of my favorite hackerspace projects is the insanely cool and utterly ambitious White Star project which aims to float a weather balloon from the U.S. to Europe across the Atlantic Jet Stream. And they’re showing off their ‘leetness at Maker Faire Detroit!

Take it to Detroit! LVL1 Hackerspace’s White Star Balloon team is going to be showing off the SpeedBall balloon system at MakerFaire Detroit, July 30 & 31 at The Henry Ford museum. We’re super excited to be a part of this great exhibition of doers and makers! We’ll have the full SpeedBall-1 Trans-Atlantic robot payload (and possibly the balloon) on static display for you to get an up-close peek at what it takes to make a 3-day airship tick.

SpeedBall-2 is slated to make its public flight debut at the MakerFaire as a lean-mean indoor flying machine. It’ll be stripped down to the bare necessities required to control it’s altitude – arguably the most important innovation of the whole program. Consisting of the classic SNOX Ballast bottle, the Flight Computer, the Comm Controller, and the Ballast Controller, the load frame and a small 12v pack of AA batteries, SB-2 will hang from a small custom plastic balloon.

Guided by a vertical cable to keep it from wandering around the museum, SB-2’s balloon it will have a calibrated leak, causing it to slowly sink down, a high-speed simulation of helium loss over a 3-day air voyage. This will allow you to see the prowess of the ballast system and control algorithm, as it manages ascents, descents, and altitude holds, fully autonomously – look ma, no wires!

8 thoughts on “SpeedBall Transatlantic Balloon at Maker Faire Detroit

  1. D-Rock says:

    I got a sneak preview last night at LVL1’s weekly meeting/open house and a great Q&A/conversation with Brad, one of they guys involved.  They’ve put tons of work into this and come a looong way on a really amazing project.  Please show your support in Detroit- stop by to see the balloon, give them some high-fives, and tell everyone you know to do the same!

  2. Zuph says:

    Thanks for the mention John! We’re really looking forward to Detroit!

  3. Rahere says:

    The real problem will be anticipating when the jet stream will turn back over Europe – it’s been west of the UK for most of the last three months, so the balloon will end up in the arctic

    1. Zuph says:

      Not a problem at all!  We’ve got weather prediction tools that can give us global wind predictions up to a week in advance.  We simply wait until the forecast is favorable!

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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