I'm looking for some ways to transmit pictures from a high altitude balloon.

Is there any open-source software for dealing with this over radio?

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    Do you have all of the needed hardware already? Or are you looking for a hardware+software solution? – Nicolas Raoul Nov 9 '16 at 12:09
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    Your question might be on-topic at hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com – Nicolas Raoul Nov 9 '16 at 12:10
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    Some problems simply cannot be solved by software. Being a radio amateur, I'd say that there are solutions. Questions are: what amount of data do you want to transfer in what time. This gives us an idea about the bandwidth. You'd then need to check if you're allowed to use radio frequencies for that purpose, e.g. are you a radio amateur as well? (I doubt, otherwise you would not have asked this question) – Thomas Weller Nov 9 '16 at 12:55
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    I don't have any hardware yet, but i want to find some open sources first (arduino, lora etc). – adi Nov 9 '16 at 13:01
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    @ThomasWeller yes, i am – adi Nov 9 '16 at 13:02

Some hints - For transmission from balloons you are likely to wish to minimise:

a) Weight & b) Power Requirements

To minimise these you usually need to minimise bandwidth and allow for transmission errors so first I would suggest considering using a good compression that also allows you to see what is coming down - I would look at progressive jpeg encoding - plenty of Open Source tools to support this.

You might also like to take a look at LoPy as a possible platform - with very low power requirements and LoRa integrated it could be a very good starting point.


You might be interested in open source Iridium modems. There are a few, separate and incorporated in cubesats I think.

Sparkfun also sells some.

So now you at least have a physical layer to get stacks for.

Maybe open source does not get the quality you are looking for here, but functionally changing the modem would, in theory, not be necessary.

  • That's very interesting, and the unit cost is cheaper than SkyWave. Where would I buy airtime for the Sparkfun Iridium modem? And is there a limit on the amount of data that I can transmit? I have to say, though, that I am extremely impressed by SkyWave's development & test environment. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Feb 7 '18 at 9:44

It all depends on your range, but if 1km would be enough for you, then I would recommend Flutter (see also completed Kickstarter page for more info).

It's a US $20 Arduino board with 1kmn wifi range (which it should reach vertically, as there are unlikely to be obstructions)).

That's about it really, so now for the obligatory graphic

enter image description here

[Update] if necessary ... a bunch of balloons, spaced 0.9km apart vertically, with wifi repeaters


I have had lots of fun with Skywave’s offerings (they have now rebranded as OrbComm), and you might like to look at the IDP_800.

Read the datasheet.

Mass: with batteries: 1.3 Kg (with integrated antenna Dimensions : 43.2 cm x 14.7 cm x 2.5 cm and it runs on 6 AA batteries, which can be bought almost anywhere.

I send only one 50 byte message a day & they tell me that I can except a three year battery life. Their units generally cost US $500 - $1,000 (with discount for bulk purchases), and their airtime rates are competitive.

The device has built in GPDS and is fully programmable in the LUA scripting language.

Note that this is not an open source software solution - is that really what you want?

Obligatory picture follows: enter image description here

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