Raspberry Pi cameras get sent into space and the photo results are out of this world
posted Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 11:39 AM EDT
It's only been a couple of weeks since the 5-megapixel Raspberry Pi camera debuted, and already people are doing incredible things with them. Like, say, sending these home-brew cameras to the edge of space attached to a weather balloon.
This weekend, Dave Akerman sent up a high altitude balloon near Swindon in the UK. Its payload was a foam replica of the Raspberry Pi logo, loaded up with a Raspberry Pi computer and one of the newly released camera modules. The flying Pi was released and floated up to the edges of the atmosphere to snap photos.
The power of the do-it-yourself Raspberry Pi is in just how much Akerman was able to customize the rig for his specific purposes. He programmed the Pi to take three different resolution images, two lower resolution versions for transmitting directly over a radio channel, and a larger one to save to SD card. He also tweaked the camera to get it to matrix metering, soldered his own batteries into place, and more.
The problem with balloons is that you don't have much control of how they fly, and as can happen, this one landed quite a ways from where it was originally expected to touch to Earth. Akerman thought the entire payload to be lost, but thankfully someone managed to find the thing, and got hold of him, reuniting the man with his experiment.
This isn't the first time that we've seen people send small cameras up into space, but the Raspberry Pi is cheap enough (just $25) that you can treat it near disposably. And if you have the requisite soldering and programming skills, you can do just about anything with it.
You can see a full set of images from the Pi in the Sky voyage at Akerman's Flickr account.