This year I’m going to take a look at what companies that supply the HAB domain have on offer for 2014.
2013 was the big year for the Go Pro Hero 3 plus – a great update to the 3rd generation camera which ironed out many of the problems the Hero 3 had. I’m not expecting a Hero 4 this year but I’m sure they are working on one.
Last year Garmin finally entered the action camera market with the Virb. Garmin brings it’s experience of GPS to the action camera market and I’m looking forward to seeing the result from a HAB team using this camera.
2013 was a busy year for SPOT LLC, with the launch of the SPOT Gen 3. As a consequence, I’m not expecting much new from SPOT in 2014. I am, however, hoping for improved SPOT apps for Iphones, Android phones and Windows phones.
Hexpert was first to come to the market with the Z log 7, an ‘off the shelf’ GPS data logger for the HAB market. Matt from Hexpert told me what to expect this year. “In the works right now is an improved version of ZLog-7. I’m designing a version that would be more plug and play. It would have the GPS integrated on the board and be enclosed in a custom case. I’m considering a built-in rechargeable battery. Just place the unit inside your balloon, press the record button and launch. When it returns, plug it into a USB port for charging and downloading the data. I get a lot of schools interested in recording their balloon flights, but they don’t want to have to do any thing besides turn it on and hit “go”.”
Sky-Probe have the SPDLV15 data logger on the market. Looking to
this year Sky-Probe said, “For 2014 we are working on improving the
usability of the current data logger, SPDLV15. This data logger will see
some coding improvements
that will allow those with more experience with programming to utilize a
data link. The SPDLV15 will continue to be useful and see improvements
even as we start development of another version.
Secondly, we intend on transitioning to surface mount chips that have
more memory and features for a new version of the data logger. We
expect this new version of the data logger to have built in live
telemetry via radios that do not require a HAM radio license, thus
keeping them easy to use and affordable. Sky-Probe has invested in some
new prototyping and development tools which we have been using in next
version development, so we expect a smaller and more capable board.
This new version will be released sometime during 2014, but our current
focus is improving the experience with the current SPDLV15 and to
continue to assist our current and new customers.”
I asked for a comment from High Altitude Science but they are keeping their cards for 2014 close to their chest.
HABduino, an ‘off the shelf’ radio tracker is set to have another production run this year. It’s inventor, Anthony Stirk, has said that it will be a rerun of the existing board but he will be making modifications for future runs. This may involve replacing the LMT2 radio module with NTX2B. Anthony said, “Currently that isn’t frequency agile but I’m pestering Radiometrix about that. I’ll consider an SD logger when I redesign.”
During 2013, PAWAN balloons became widely available in the UK market; joining Hwoyee and Totex balloons. Also prices from the main UK suppliers dropped, benefiting HABists. This year Balloon news web store is looking to bring another Japanese manufacturer’s balloons to the UK market.