Telokanda Weather Balloons

We build and launch low-cost weather balloons in Nigeria to help gather data in the region for studying climate and hurricane formation.

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The Telos blockchain is a network of developers and computer enthusiasts, who see potential governance systems for a decentralized internet where people are in direct control of their money and data. We're a global set of engineers and community members who wish to build a radiosonde network that would greatly expand our understanding of hurricane formation and the climate of Western Africa.

We're using open source hardware and TheThingsNetwork (TTN) to retrieve temperature, humidity, and pressure data from radiosondes launched by our team. The data is brought from TTN and placed on the Telos blockchain. When the radiosonde reaches a certain altitude, digital currency on the blockchain is unlocked and given to the "miner" of the weather balloon.We encourage anyone to read the original proposal and contribute on our github.

We're working with engineers and Telos community members in Uyo and Lagos, Nigeria to find the most inexpensive and accessible hardware solution to meet our goals.

The original Telos proposal can be broken down into the following components:

  • A TTN device that transmits pressure, temperature, humidity
  • An Arduino sketch that reads the data, encodes it, and sends it over Lora
  • A TTN pipeline that decodes the data and sends it to an application server
  • A simple web application (using React and Javascript), where a miner can view and update launch statuses. Data is sent to the blockchain as soon as launch begins.
  • An eosio smart contract that holds the data and rewards a miner when the launch is successful

We plan on providing the step-by-step process of building the hardware and creating the TTN data pipeline here on Hackaday. The Arduino sketch, the eosio code, and the application software can be found on our github page.

  • 1 × BME 280 Pressure, temperature, humidity sensor
  • 1 × The Things Uno Modified Arduino with LoRa transmitter
  • 1 × 9V battery External power source
  • 1 × Latex helium balloon ( >= 33 cubic feet volume)
  • 1 × Tupperware container

  • 1
    Build simple TTN node prototype

    Solder pin headers to the tiny BME280. The resulting male pins can be on either side of the board. 

    Connect the pins to TheThingsUno in the following way:

    VCC pin into 3v3 

    GND pin into GND

    SCL pin into SCL

    SDA pin into SDA

    Now that we have the hardware connected, let's upload the software. 

    Open the Arduino IDE and choose Tools -> Board -> Arduino Leonardo

    We also need to load the necessary low-level libraries that we can use to build the Arduino sketch. They can be installed by opening the Arduino IDE and going to Tools -> Manage Libraries.

    Use the search tab to search for lora-serialization by Joscha Feth and install the latest version. 

    Follow the same process for these libraries as well:


    Adafruit BME280

    After these libraries have been installed, copy the Arduino TTN node prototype sketch found on our github. When the .ino file has been saved, go to Sketch -> Verify/Compile. 

    If it returns no errors, connect the Arduino via USB port. You may need to tell it which port to use. Then select Sketch -> Upload. Quickly open Tools -> Serial Monitor

    With any luck, you will see the board start up and try to connect to TheThingsNetwork. If you see multiple messages about OTAA failing, it is because a TTN gateway is not nearby. If you just want to test your sensor and see your weather data coming off the board, comment out the "ttn.join(appEui, appKey)" line and re-upload the sketch.

    --------------- CONTINUE ON IF A GATEWAY IS IN YOUR REGION ------------------

    When your sketch has been uploaded and you have a TTN gateway nearby, take the node mobile with a 9V battery and a plug. Log into the TTN console and enjoy your weather data.

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