Public Lab Research note

Balloon mapping in Eastern Ukraine

by Alex_the_Ukrainian | March 12, 2015 21:07 12 Mar 21:07 | #11673 | #11673

Experiments on eco-mapping using DIY balloons

are underway here in Kharkiv, Ukraine [ref_1], by me and my friends. I want to report these – first retrospectively, and then prospectively.

The Kharkiv group of enthusiast is working since 2012 to adopt the micro-balloon mapping for the realities of this part of the world, i.e. Ukraine [ref_2].

The aim is to provide local conservationists with the affordable non-invasive tool for monitoring the fragile ecosystems in national parks. Also, it is our plan to adopt the balloon mapping, as well as air pollution monitoring, for the regional waste management authorities and eco-activists .

Kharkiv initiative is inspired by PublicLab

I’ve came across the Public Lab and the PLOTS project after the interview by Ms Dosemagen [ref_3] . The materials of the PublicLab website appeared quite inspiring and helpful. By the April 2013 we here have made our first balloon aerials using the Canon A-490 camera.

Reports already available

Step-by-step we proceed with the reporting our results. At the moment three posts are published at PublicLab.

The report [Egg-shaped balloons] is about relatively simple ovoid balloons we use in tandem to fly a camera. The design of envelope is relatively simple, of eight similar gores.

The report [Small aerostat] describes the more sophisticated “blimp-shaped” design we use for training.

And short info about the [chalk meadow national park in Dvorichna] describes our “test-ground” for balloon-mapping.

Related videos on YouTube

  1. Low-level aerial by tethered balloon Hobby-flying the tethered balloon. Camera is suspended to the balloon in the oblique position. Unlike the drone, the balloon does not produce much noise. The soundtrack is recorded by the camera aloft; one can hear the dog barking in the nearby village. The footage was taken by July, 2013 in Eastern Ukraine.
  2. Small aerostat at night In this video we experiment with night lighting. Small aerostat is DIY, 20 cub.feet. The footage was made by March, 2014 in Eastern Ukraine.
  3. Eco-balloon in Ukraine, March 2013 Piloting the balloon by the fishing rod in the forest. The presence of the balloon does not disturb the wild nature -- the frogs continue their vocalization and the nightingales don't stop their spring song.




[ref_3] How to create your own aerial map. BBC world service, 7 August 2011.


Hallo Alex. The balloons look interesting. Can you share more pictures of your balloons.

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Very cool! +1 would love to see more photos; also, for vegetation mapping you might eventually try making/getting an Infragram camera:

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I really want to know more about your balloons too! they look awesome!

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Hello All -- gpenzo, Ecta64, warren, mathew! Thank you very much for your interest. I'm working now on the note about these balloons, and resizing the photos. In brief, we use the polyethylene for the envelopes. Also, our point, the balloons are sort of 'semirigid' -- the belly is framed with carbon fishing rods.

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thanks for some clarification, Alex. I too build balloons by hand so I'm intensely curious. this note shows some of the focus of my work:

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Mathew, thank you for the link. It is a great piece of experience. When talking of heat seaming, I'd suggest you to try a ftoroplast strip between the plastic and the iron. I also place the ftoroplast UNDER the plastic to avoid adhesion to the linen fabric of the seaming table.

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Warren, thank you for pointing toward Infragram. We here are at the very steep part of our learning curve. Me and Dmitry started to read onto your Infragram project -- it will take us couple of weeks to digest.

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translation update-- Alex's suggested using ftoroplast between the layers of polyethylene-- Ftoroplast is another name for PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) commonly sold under the brand name Teflon.

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Mathew, it seems I was not clear enough. The ftoroplast, or Teflon, is placed NOT BETWEEN layers of polyethilen which are heat-seamed. One strip of Ftoroplast (Teflon) is above the two polyethylene layers, and the second is under the two polyethylene layers. Ftoroplast prevents adhesion of the heated polyethylene to the iron, and to the backgound. The adhesion (welding) of two polyethylene layers is what we want. So no Ftoroplast (Teflon) between the welded layers. I'd better show this on photograph.

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Alex- I understood what you were doing fine, I just wrote that comment wrong. thanks for correcting me.

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