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GSM/GPRS connection from a balloon

Discussion in 'Hobby Electronics' started by Albert Goodwill, Aug 13, 2007.

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  1. Hello Everybody,

    Expert advise required on GSM/GPRS connection;

    I want to send/receive data to/from a balloon carrying some sensor.
    Initially balloon will be tight to a rope and will rise gradually in
    human control.
    It will send altitude, temperature, humidity, windspeed, GPS data via
    GSM/GPRS module to a control computer and to a mobile phone on the
    ground. It will also receive some remote control commands through the
    same communication channel.

    - How high the balloon can rise before GSM/GPRS signal vanishes?
    - Is there a legal altitude limit for GSM/GPRS operation?
    - Which GSM/GPRS modules you would recommend for the balloon and
    for the computer (please consider price and locality as Australia)?
    - Do you know any similar project or any open project which can
    help me to learn more on GSM/GPRS data communication?

    Thank you

  2. criten

    criten Guest

    Please note this may not be accurate, going off memory.

    I believe GSM has a 15km range, which would put anything over 50,000ft
    out of range. However, I do recall reading a study conducted outside the
    USA (due to FAA regulation) shortly after the 9/11 attacks to determine
    the success rate of placing mobile calls on commercial flights - I
    recall they found at altitude (although I can't remember exact figures
    or have a link for you) the success rate was extremely low (less than
    10%) over a sample data of several thousand calls - which apparently was
    used to feed conspiracy theorists rubbish about that plane that crashed
    in the middle of nowhere, and its passengers apparently called their
    relatives from their cell phones, so who knows if said study was truely

    NextG apparently has 4x the range of GSM (or so goes the sales pitch),
    but alot of the blokes on don't like it.

    Who knows, that information may be helpful. At least its some research
    pointers for you.
    No idea about AU law, I do recall Mythbusters tackling the issue of cell
    phones on planes who pointed out that in the USA its illegal under FAA
    regulation on any passenger aircraft. Mostly because the equipment, such
    as navigations & communications need to be tested to ensure they are
    sufficiently shielded from interferance. I really don't think there
    would be legal restrictions on a balloon, but a high altitude you will
    need flight clearance.
    Nup, but you may be interested in packet radio as an alternative - with
    a radio license its free on amatuer bands and can provide several
    thousand kilometer ranges. Although the bandwidth is typically
    compariable to dialup modem, but that should be plenty sufficient for
    the data you stated. I suggest you see some groups for info
    about that ;)

  3. That's a good suggestion regarding packet radio. Careful what you say on
    the newsgroup, there's a big bunfight going on there at the

  4. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Dorfus Dippintush"

    ** Huh ???????

    What NG is that then ?

    " " is a classic example of the lights are on but
    nobody is home.

    ....... Phil
  5. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Albert Goodwill"

    ** You are going to run foul of the laws of Australia.

    Tethered balloons must NOT be flown to a height of more than 300 feet (
    100m ) above the ground without a special permit from the Civil Aviation
    Safety Authority ( CASA) - plus you must be at least 4km away from ANY

    Also, the balloon must remain 500 feet below cloud at all times and be flown
    only when there is perfect visibility.

    So you CANNOT release the balloon.

    Forget it - it's a totally mad idea.

    ......... Phil
  6. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Chris Jones"

    ** ROTFLMAO !!!!!!

    Almost as misconceived and funny as "bassett" explaining how DTV works.

    .......... Phil
  7. David

    David Guest

    Chris is actually correct. The original reason the FCC banned cellular
    phones in any aircraft or balloon, was to prevent harmful interference
    to terrestrial cellular systems. The original ban did not consider the
    potential impact on aircraft navigation or communication systems.

    When in the air, the distance to the cell tower causes the cell phone to
    operate at maximum power, and this cause co-channel interference. The
    current push is to have a pico cell installed in an aircraft, and this
    will allow the phone to operate at minimum power levels, and prevent
    interference to the ground based networks.

    If cellular phones where that dangerous to the operation of aircraft, do
    you really think that we would even be allowed to take them onboard?
    Plenty of people "forget" to turn them off.

  8. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "David" <

    ** Bullshit he is.

    ** Complete bollocks.

    Mobiles operate at max power all over the place, all the time.

    ** Purest crapology.

    Ever heard of the inverse square law ??

    Obviously not - it is not taught in IT courses.

    .......... Phil
  9. David

    David Guest

    No, cellular phones adjust their output power to suit the current cell.
    For small cells, the phones and the cell will operate at very low power
    levels. This allows many phones to operate in a small area at the same
    time while only using a limited number of channels.
    The inverse square law is the *exact* problem with cellular phones on
    aircraft. When in the air, the distance from the cellular phone to the
    cell towers on the ground is fairly equidistant, over a large footprint
    on the ground. All the towers will receive the phone's signal at a
    similar strength. This will cause interference with existing calls over
    a large area on that channel. This is why the FCC and ACMA prohibit the
    operation of cellular phones in an airborne aircraft.

    When the cellular phone is on the ground, the tower closest will
    typically take control, the phone will adjust its power level down, and
    towers further away will have a much weaker signal (due to the inverse
    square law).

    Obviously they never taught about cellular phones at toaster repair school.

  10. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    ** Yes, mobiles operate at max power all over the place, all the time.

    You are an illiterate imbecile !!!!!

    Can't even pinch lines from Wiki without fucking them all up.

    ** You are an utter IMBECILE.

    The inverse square law means the signal from an aircraft will be weak for
    any receiver on the ground - plus that tubular alloy fuselage the phones
    are inside of makes a dandy RF shield.


    The 1991 US FCC ban on airborne use of cell phones was for a ANALOGUE (
    ie FM ) phones network - not a digital GSM one.

    BIG differences exist in how they work.

    ** Irrelevant to how GSM actually works.

    It is easy to be in a spot on the ground or up in a tall building that has
    similar reception strength on 3 or 4 towers.

    As you drive or move about, the tower receiving the best signal takes
    ver - and that situation may change many times in ONE second. The GSM
    system copes just fine.

    The US FCC ban on airborne use of cell phones is highly controversial,
    based on hunches rather than proper evidence and does NOT apply to
    privately owned aircraft ( inc business jets and chartered planes) where
    folk on board use their cell phones just as they like.

    YOU are a know nothing ASS - David.

    **** off back your PIC programming.

    ....... Phil
  11. David

    David Guest

    It applies to ALL aircraft, including privately owned aircraft once they
    are airborne. To quote from the FCC:
    Similar legislation for the class license of cellular phones in Australia

  12. kreed

    kreed Guest

    I dont know about GSM, but with CDMA, when it operates in a city area
    (mostly full or near full signal all the time) the battery will last
    for about 4 days. When in country areas with low or no reception, the
    battery will go flat in a day or less.

    I always assumed that the phone raised its transmission power to
    maintain the connection in poor signal conditions, thus draining the
    battery faster ?
  13. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "David" <

    ** Go find out what really happens in the USA

    Folk onboard private aircraft do just what I posted.


    ......... Phil
  14. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest


    ** Try learning to read.

    Realise what I did NOT write.

    ......... Phil
  15. David

    David Guest

    I never denied that they did. Doesn't mean that it is legal however.

  16. David

    David Guest

    It is as you would say "complete bollocks", as mobiles do *not* operate
    at max power all the time. They change their output power as needed to
    maintain the required signal the tower the mobile has connected to.

  17. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "David the Shit Head TROLL "

    ** Try learning to read sometime.

    Cos your reading comprehension is that of a genetically autistic fuckwit.

    Which it is 100% certain you ARE.

    ........ Phil
  18. David

    David Guest

    ** Try learning to write sometime. "All the time" implies continuously,
    and clearly mobile phones don't operate at maximum power continuously.

    My point is clearly proved, when all I get abuse as a reply from you.

  19. Phil Allison

    Phil Allison Guest

    "Chris Jones = total MORON "
    "David = an even bigger IDIOT"

    ** Read what I wrote - CAREFULLY !!!!!!!!!!!

    It does ** NOT ** say what you have *stupidly* assumed.

    ** And my words are NOT a reply to any post of YOURS !!!!!!


    ** What absolute CRAPOLOGY !!!

    Curvature of the earth is not involved - FUCKWIT !!!

    YOU have not got ONE single tiny clue about RF propagation or how mobile
    phones REALLY work.

    The FCC in the USA made up its dumb regulation when ANALOGUE ( ie simple
    FM ) cell phones were the ONLY kind in use.

    Which has got ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the situation of a SINGLE
    mobile on board an UNMANNED experimental balloon being used for data
    communication in AUSTRALIA !!

    Now **** the HELL OFF !!!!!!!!!

    & take that ASD fucked " David " puke head with you !!

    ......... Phil
  20. Actually David, Phil is quite right, but ambiguous.
    All of the time, *some* phone will be operating at full power.
    Just not *all* phones, *all* the time.
    You *both* failed to communicate clearly.
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