Balloon messages could perhaps be likened to a new form of the classic message in a bottle. Created by ECAL graduate David Colombini, Attachment is an ATmega1280 powered, poetic machine that enables you to send text, images or videos into the air using a biodegradable balloon with the intention of “rediscovering expectation, the random, and the unexpected,” uncommonly found in current means of communication.
Upon entering your name and e-mail, the site allows you to send a message and attach a picture, sound, or video. Once your content is validated, the machine prints the message and a code on an A6 sheet of paper, slips it into a biopolymer cylinder attached to a balloon, which is released into the air. The balloon then travels haphazardly to a potential recipient.
At some point, someone somewhere will find it. When they do, that individual can connect to the website and enter the secret password on the message to discover the text, the image or video in its entirety.
As Colombini notes, the [megaAVR based] project originally began as a stand against today’s “smart” technologies. “I have always been attracted by what is in the air and remember having won a balloon release contest when I was about ten years old. My balloon flew from Switzerland to Austria, this definitely left an impression on me and perhaps influenced the idea of this project.”
The poetic machine is driven by an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280), a PRismino (a mini shield specially developed for the machine to control the IR sensors), four 12V motors, a 450w power supply, a number of IR captors and a specifically-built Veroboard for the machine to control the electronics.
Colombini also selected a mini A4 printer (Canon PIXMA iP100), which he hacked for A6 files, along with several clips to close the ballon, a bunch of 90 cm diameter biodegradable balloons, a series of tubes and covers, and a Mac Mini to run the processing script.
In addition, Creative Applications reveals the modern-day message in a bottle includes five pneumatic valves to control the five pneumatic cylinders, an air compressor, a 5L helium bottle, digital air and helium pressure sensors, two valves to control the in/out of the air or helium, one Manometer, and a DHEB.
As the machine will be installed outside, Colombini is looking to work with the Association for the Development of Renewable Energies in Lausanne to power the machine with solar energy.
So, be sure to keep an eye out because a secret message may be on its way! If interested in learning more or sending a poetic passage of your own, you can fly on over to Attachment’s official page here.