I am both a first time poster, and a Quirky devil's advocate. I recently tried to gain support for a more high-tech version of the Quirky Kepler.
As you can see, I failed. What I was lobbying for was a simple Pi-like command module with a simple if-then computing (If altimeter reads greater than 500 feet, then GPS and wireless is off, if not moving and altimeter less than 500 feet, then super strobe lights and alarm on, etc.) Basic functions for finding and making sure the thing was safe and all. I would have also liked a way to "cut the cord" to the weather balloon so to speak, so the module could drop at a preset altitude. Another one was to keep the parachute from deploying before it was needed, which as it stands, is as soon as the module starts to drop. This would mean less travel to find the module, because the parachute would not have deployed until it was closer to the ground, allowing less drift from wind. I understand that computer-controlling a parachute is probably gonna have more room for error than simply flying it like a flag on the weather balloon tether, but I don't wanna have to cross state lines or anything to get back my module. Anyone thing a Pi would be a good idea for a computing method? How plug-n-play would the altimeter and motors and other sensors be? (I am not anything remotely resembling a electronics engineer, nor a programmer) I have yet to brainstorm good ways of deploying a parachute, but one method I had in mind was to have a simple latch that would be undone by stepper motor, then a shell pops off, revealing a parachute. I would kinda like a way to drop the module if it is stuck in a tree, either via remote, or automated detaching of the parachute once altitude and freefall are detected to be within the allowed parameters.
So, any ideas? I am pretty good with the mechanical and hardware aspects of this sorta thing, but the software would have to be knock-down, drag-out simple (The original Lego Mindstorms programming software was probably the closest/most advanced programming to this sorta thing I have ever done.)
I was going to basically house the computing stuff in something like a Pelican case, watertight, shockproof, preferably canister-like or cylindrical. Maybe a really big Alladin Thermos with shockproof foam bumpers??? And then just attach a GoPro to the exterior. Detaching the weather balloon could be as simple as "@ alt>xfeet, run ycurrent through wire" (thus heating the wire, which would be spliced, or wrapped around the line to the weather balloon, melting or burning it, and detaching the module from the balloon.) I feel like I can think in the mathematical sense, but I may need plenty of pointers on programming language and all.
Cheers, lets see where this goes.