Stratocaching is a unique game which combines high-altitude balloons with geocaching. It is the brainchild of the Czech non-profit association “Žádná věda” (“Not Rocket Science”) and its aim is to link science and technology with an adventure game – something we call “the magic of experiment”. Our first flight took place on November 16, 2013 with 13.000 participants. More than 220.000 viewers watched the live video streamed from the balloon to the online Czech technology magazine Technet.cz. This year Stratocache was sponsored by Logitech, BASF, 4GLTE, AXIS, VW, FPV.CZ, and jobs.CZ.
Ivan from Stratochaching has kindfully given us a roundup of the second successful Stratocache event in Czech Republic.
“This years‘ project turned to be quite dramatic – firstly, because of the heavy payload (3,8 kg) and strict tests and negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority in the Czech republic, we lost time and energy to manage all the tests nedded before start (quite a paradox). At the time of the start, the EMC problem caused failure of some of the technologies. Luckily, the emergency system worked and everything was safe.
Full video from both AXIS cameras: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLydB_noO-qe0G2TUo5ulQSNoLHfhoFKEq
Just a few details:
- 6 technologies were used for the geolocation in the Dropion and Stratocaches (meteorological probe Vaisala, RTTY, APRS, LoRa, GSM tracker Meitrack MT-90, acustic signalisation + LED diodes)
- 10.300 people registered for the stratocaching game based on geocaching. We have developed a special mobile app Stratocaching (you can download it) and sophisticated admin system for publishing the positions of the Stratocaches
- Live video streaming using Wi-Fi router Microtic and special AXIS F series cameras (two sensor units looking up and down) – had to be turned off before start because of EMC problem. LThe cameras were in recording mode only.
- GoPro hero 3 camera failed. It’s micro SD card failed at the altitude of 3 km L
- The GPS inside Dropion lost the positioning after start – the reason is probably a wrong final coat of white paint on the Dropion cover, containing titanium. We actually had a metal lid covering all the GPS antennas inside! A silly mistake made the night before L That’s why the automatic system for balloon cutoff and releasing Stratocaches didn’t work.
- The balloon bursted at 29.308 metres
- The emergency system (timing 2 hours after start) released the Stratocaches at 4.105 metres – so it wasn’t a real strato- caching J, the stratocaches falled nearby on one field (no wind in the lower flight levels)
MESSAGE FOR THE COMMUNITY:
- We have completed a very sophisticated stratospheric probe that has a releasing system that could be used for many purposes, including the Stratocaching game. We only need to fix some small problems and can fly again! The only problem is that we will probably never get permission for next flight in Czech republic– this year, it was a „political“ achievment to get the authorities cooperating with our crazy project.
- Would anyone be interested in launching the Stratocaching balloon in a different country? We are ready to pack all the components and test Dropion and Stratocaches somewhere else! It would help us to continue with our exploration of the „maple seed design“ of the Stratocaches and behavior of different GPS technologies.