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May 9, 2014 AT 10:00 am

Shooting a potato into space using a Raspberry Pi! #piday #raspberrypi @Raspberry_Pi

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Dave Ackerman posted on his blog about a great project he worked on last year- shooting a potato into space using a Raspberry Pi!

This fun project started with a call from a TV production company who were working on a series for Heston Blumenthal. They’d heard that I fly the Raspberry Pi and wanted to include it in their Pie episode. The idea was to fly a potato as that was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

Fast forward a few weeks, we had the challenge of finding a day that had good wind predictions and good weather, and would fit in with the filming schedule and Heston’s diary. Not easy, as you can imagine. However we did find such a day, with Heston available throughout, and I prepared a payload to fly. That needed to contain 3 GoPro cameras, including one looking down and one out sideways, plus a Raspberry Pi to send telemetry and live images from the flight:


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On top of this I placed some foam blocks to hold everything in place, then a further camera to record the balloon burst:

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On launch day, the first to arrive was Jon who’d made this wonderful retro-styled rocket, piloted by a King Edward with a familiar face.

We worked together to mount his rocket to my payload, using a shaped piece of balsa wood fixed to the underside of each:

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…After this it was time to go and launch. The film crew were very unobtrusive so I found it easy to just get on with the launch, chatting with Heston and explaining how it all works.

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…Next job of course was to chase the flight. The prediction had it going from Berkshire to Essex, so there would be little chance of getting there before it landed even without a film crew so slow things down!

We saw some great images throughout the flight from the SSDV system, and had good telemetry also. Here’s an image (from a GoPro) during the flight:

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See more here.


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