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20140419 Lunchbox in space

Today, I was really enthralled to witness the launch of a lunchbox in (near) space by the  Hong Kong Space Group, going after the Global Space Balloon Challenge. The balloon started flight around 11:00 and descended at around 13:00. Here is a short video of the launch :
The official video is here :

launching a camera in near space
The team is

  • Andy Kong – Mission Control
  • Allen – Software Guru
  • James – Plane Designer
  • Henry – Plane Designer
  • Ricky – Balloon Specialist
  • Marcus – Test pilot
  • Marc – Classified
  • Sunny – Software

Many Dim Sum Lab members joined the launch. The lunchbox is currently drifting in the middle of the ocean, if you can collect you and return it to to Andy Kong, there is 500 HKD reward for it :) Current location is being updated on the group blog :
We all hope we can get the blue box back and enjoy the video it has taken, most likely looking like this one :

This is what the box looks like inside.
Dim Sum lab member about to launch a camera in space
The team had made very nice job sharing their research, about the weight calculation of the balloon, the camera control, they used the ardupilot (manual) and they even logged and published the data of their last crash. I would love to have the full parts list and diagrams perhaps. The video feed did not work today during the flight even though it worked before during tests.

I’m excited to meet great people with creative technology initiatives in Hong Kong and I hope great collaborations with Protei will happen in near future

20130320 Fish Pi & Wave Glider

Today my good old friend Ollie Palmer sent me this BBC article about Fish Pi : A few minutes apart, my other friend Cynthia Yeung sent me this about the wave glider :

Fish Pi in BBC 20130320

Fish Pi by Greg Holloway. 

“The Fish Pi that will be venturing across the Atlantic will be much bigger than the concept vehicle. Early plans suggest it will be about 5ft 6in (1.7m) long, a foot (90cm) wide and its hull will be made of carbon fibre. Development costs will be about £15,000, estimates Mr Holloway.”


Wave Glider by Liquid Robotics.

“The Wave Glider’s capacity to operate autonomously at sea for months on end gathering data from uncharted reaches of the ocean has attracted $40 million in funding, including $22 million from VantagePoint Capital Partners, a leading Silicon Valley green tech investor, and oil industry services behemoth Schlumberger. VantagePoint’s chief executive, Alan Salzman, sees a huge potential market among companies and scientific organizations that now must spend anywhere between $30,000 and $150,000 a day to staff and outfit a carbon-spewing deep-ocean vessel. “Resupplying a ship in the middle of the ocean is staggeringly expensive,” he says. “The Wave Glider has enormous implications in terms of the ability to provide monitoring and information on things in the ocean we otherwise have no access to.”

Such different animals. I’m so in love with the space Protei is operating in. Autonomous sailing robots. An ocean of possibilites. The next frontier. We are a few players now, we may be thousands soon. It feels like it is the beginning of a great epoch. I think we all feel that. It probably has a lot in common with the the exaltation of the first manned flights years. Seeing your baby sailing on it’s own is a magical feeling. Imagining that one day it will become this little dot on the map collecting information, among many other points, such an adventure.

And the numbers are so impressive. The money. The size. The materials. So different. We have large corporations with multi-million investments on major media outlets  facing devices made of parts that costs a few hundred dollars. And we’re all progressing fast with so much conviction, underdogs, overlords, all humbled by the power of the elements, all willing to be brocken and try, try again. I am happy I read these 2 articles side by side today because it informs me with the situation of Protei. I feel we’re somewhere between these 2 extremes. A rather sweet spot. A good place and we must pursue that “middle” slice. Not only for hackers, not only for big corporation, for everyone. I’m excited. Let’s go.

Public Lab DIY Spectrometry Kit

The Public Lab is launching on Kickstarter :  a “DIY kit helps analyze materials and contaminants. We need your help to build a library of open-source spectral data.” In the video Jeff Warren explains that this will be like a “shazam for material”, “wikipedia style” a “ubiquitous tool for scientists to identify unknown materials, like oil spill residue or coal tar in urban waterways”. As Protei is embarking for a journey to study and protect the ocean, this may reveal a very useful tool to have on our Unreasonable trip and make us contributors to this great community. I was very happy to work with Public Lab on the BP Oil Spill and I recognize some pictures I took in that video :)  I look forward to work on these new instruments. We want some of these, and please spread around. Open Hardware for the Environment!

Squid Hop

During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid (Loligo Pealei), we (Greg Gage & Co)  tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol (an iPod) on the squid’s chromatophores. The results were both interesting and beautiful.

More details can be found here: and an explanation of how it works can be found on our TED talk:


For our friends in Germany, we uploaded to Vimeo as well

Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido of Roger Hanlon’s Lab in the Marine Resource Center of the Marine Biological Labs helped us with the preparation.
“Insane in the Brain” is copyrighted by Cypress Hill (1993)