Tiny Raspberry Pi Camera takes photos from weather balloon
The credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computer has been the toy of choice for DIY-computer enthusiasts since it was released last year. So when the Raspberry Pi Foundation started selling an equally tiny $25 5MP camera module recently, a new world of possibilities opened for technologically-inclined photography enthusiasts.
David Akerman, a high-altitude ballooning hobbyist in England, is a pioneer of the technology who has been working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to use their products for high-altitude photography. The lightweight computer/camera combo appealed to Akerman because it seem capable of delivering a higher quality output than the webcams that he had used before. (Note that actually configuring the camera board is not for the faint of heart.)
Akerman's previous attempt with a pre-production version of the Raspberry Pi camera sent back some photos via radio transmission, but the SD card was never recovered because the device likely landed somewhere in rural Switzerland or France.
But Akerman recently tried again with a newer version of the Raspberry Pi camera and computer packed into a raspberry-shaped protective case. Using new camera software, Akerman was able to change the Raspberry Pi camera's metering mode from spot to matrix — allowing for better exposures in dramatic high-altitude conditions. After flying up to 38.9km (127,625 feet) in the air, the weather balloon and Raspberry Pi camera contraption landed just a short drive away from where it was launched, this time with full photographic results. The full details of the flight can be found on Dave Akerman's blog.