Once again, HacDC is planning to launch a near-space balloon this weekend (on Saturday if conditions permit) to capture pictures of the Earth’s horizon. To learn about the blimp’s behavior and to assist in the recovery, the payload sends packets of sensor data through the Automatic Packet Reporting System, a quite interesting amateur-radio-based system to distribute real-time information through a repeater network. This time, however, we are parsing this data to send it through a number of useful communication channels.
One of these includes a voice phone number, 202-559-1100, powered by Twilio’s phone application API. By calling this number during the day, people will have the opportunity to listen to the current data about the blimp’s status and location and to receive SMS messages with the same information, including direct links to Google Maps. The flight team will also have the option of recording updates into the phone menu system. And there will be a Twitter feed with the data at @hacdcspaceblimp.
Unfortunately, however, the recovery team is capped according to the “Hackerspaces in Space” contest rules, so we do have to warn against any enterprising people from taking this information and tracking the payload down themselves. However, if you are interested in being involved, there may be opportunities to observe the launch and recovery this weekend.
We also will update this blog with details on the final launch time!