Dashboard for your HAB footage

For those who wonder at what height a particular piece of high altitude balloon footage was taken, a solution is at hand. Dashware is a piece of PC software that allows you to imprint altitude, location, or what ever parameter you have data on, onto your action camera HAB footage. Designed originally for motorcycle and snowboard fanatics, Dashware allows you to display data from any CSVFITGPXTCX and NMEA files onto your high altitude balloon footage.

Here is an example from a UK HAB flight that set off from the Malverns in 2013.

The software will set you back $50 or about £35. If you want to add depth to your weather balloon footage from your action camera then this is a great start.

Chair in Space – How did they do it?  January 2013

One of the most inspiring HAB pictures I have seen is the 2009 ‘Chair in Space’  from the Toshiba commercial. After doing my own HAB projects I have always wondered how they got the camera shots of the chair. With a little help from JP Aerospace and Adland TV, the secrets are revealed.

Mission rig

Mission rig

The first useful resource to find out ‘How they did it’ is:

This documentary by Toshiba gives snippets of the technology used. It seems like Toshiba used many of their HD cameras, all pointing to the light balsa chair. The cameras were mounted on a broadly pyramidal rig, broadly balanced to accommodate the chair weight.

Rig shadow reveals pole

Rig shadow reveals pole

The main ‘floating chair’ shot seems to have been caught by a camera brought down to face the chair by a pole from the main rig. This is hard to see on the launch shot below but is revealed by it’s shadow on the shot above. The chair was suspended from the main rig using four fine lines, possibly fishing line.


It seems the advert was inspired by a 2004 mission by Simon Faithfull’s “Gravity sucks” exhibition. Read more about this at

'Gravity sucks'

‘Gravity sucks’ – No Balsa wood on this chair launched over Farnborough.

The project was supported by the HAB team JP aerospace ( where there is much more information on the mechanics of the launch.

Concept drawing

Concept drawing

From JP, I gathered that Toshiba asked for four separate rigs for the project three acting as backups. The basic rig is broadly diamond shaped with an extension. The extension allows a boom with camera to drop below the main rig in a broadly balanced fashion.  The cameras were attached to the rig so that one looked down at the chair and one got a shot from the front, though on closer inspection of the video, there seem to be more cameras on the rig. Adding it all up, each rig weighed about 10 kilograms.  JP Aerospace’s team went out to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and sent up the four rigged-up balloons, one at a time, over the weekend of Sept. 26-27 2009; Coming back with 16 hours of footage for a 60-second commercial.

Actual rig

Actual rig

And what happened to the chair  which cost $2000 to build? – It broke up when the balloon burst.


Fortunately this was planned for and all of the pieces were secured to the main rig.

‘Chair in Space’ is one of those photos that inspired my HABing and I hope this has shed a little light on how the image was achieved.

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