Raspberry Pi takes a trip to space, snaps photos of Earth, comes back again

raspberry pi camera 1One of the marvelous things about the dirt cheap $25 Raspberry Pi computer is that if you accidentally destroy it during some adventurous endeavor involving the device, you won’t have lost too much.

This may or may not have crossed the mind of Dave Akerman recently when he sent his own Raspberry Pi into space, together with its recently launched $25 5-megapixel camera. As part of his cleverly titled Pi in the Sky project, Dave wanted to see if he could use Raspberry Pi to take pictures of Earth from space, at the same time transmitting the images back to computers on the ground.

After attaching the camera module to his modified Raspberry Pi computer and housing it in a case built deliberately to look like a particular fruit – the name of which you can most probably guess – Dave sent the whole lot skyward with the help of a weather balloon.

raspberry pi casing with camera

As the contraption gained altitude in the skies above southern England, with the camera snapping photos every minute or so, Dave managed to successfully receive low- and medium-resolution images back to his ground-based computer. He was also capturing high-res images on the camera’s SD card for later viewing.

Three hours after launching the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi into space, the computer and camera crashed back to Earth. However, Dave, who was hoping to recover his equipment, lost the signal soon after it landed.

“It seemed very unlikely to me that the radio transmitters had stopped working altogether – the batteries were soldered on so it would need a really hard impact to break the connection,” he explained in a blog post detailing his project.

“I was about ready to declare the payload lost when my mobile phone rang. It was someone who asked if I’d lost ‘a parachute with a raspberry and a big lump of latex’. My payload had been found!” Of course, Dave had sensibly written his phone number on his raspberry-shaped casing before launch.

Also, the Raspberry Pi was, to his delight,  still working – the signal had been lost because the guy who’d discovered it had taken it home, taking it out of range of Dave’s tracking equipment. For the Raspberry Pi enthusiast, it was mission accomplished. 

Whether Dave’s successful tech challenge inspires others to try something themselves with Raspberry Pi remains to be seen, but his account of the project makes for a fun read, with his enthusiasm evident throughout. There are plenty of photos documenting events, too.

Many people around the world have been finding all kinds of innovative ways of using the Linux-based Raspberry Pi computer, from powering a computer lab in an underdeveloped African village to, somewhat bizarrely, the creation of a beer keyboard in Romania.

[Images: Dave Akerman] [Top image looks west across southern England, showing parts of Devon and Cornwall, taken from a height of about 24 miles (39 km)]


Nose cam no more. How Dell avoided a notch and fixed the XPS 13’s biggest flaw

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.

From DIY to AAA, here's how to take a passport photo in 6 different ways

If you're applying for a passport or renewing one, you need to submit a photo in your official application. There are strict guidelines, but fortunately, it's something you can do at home. Here's how to take a passport photo.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.

Faster new PCIe 5.0 standard leapfrogs the best feature of AMD’s Ryzen 3

PCIe 5.0 will bring even faster data transfers, but it may only be found on HPCs and servers initially. The standard is four times faster than your current PC at transferring data, and new devices could appear later this year.

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for January 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Product Review

LG Gram 14 proves 2-in-1 laptops don’t need to sacrifice battery for light weight

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 aims to be very light for a laptop that converts to a tablet. And it is. But it doesn’t skimp on the battery, and so it lasts a very long time on a charge.

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.

Watch out for these top-10 mistakes people make when buying a laptop

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.

Don't spend a fortune on a PC. These are the best laptops under $300

Buying a laptop needn't mean spending a fortune. If you're just looking to browse the internet, answer emails, and watch Netflix, you can pick up a great laptop at a great price. These are the best laptops under $300.

Dell XPS 13 vs. Asus Zenbook 13: In battle of champions, who will be the victor?

The ZenBook 13 UX333 continues Asus's tradition of offering great budget-oriented 13-inch laptop offerings. Does this affordable machine offer enough value to compete with the excellent Dell XPS 13?

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?