Facebook Pixel"Lighthouse" weather balloons to help locate small towns not on google maps or in regions with a low cell signal
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"Lighthouse" weather balloons to help locate small towns not on google maps or in regions with a low cell signal

Image credit: Photo by ArtHouse Studio from Pexels

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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice Mar 14, 2022
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Idea
A weather balloon floats above hard-to-find villages to make it easier to find them for people who are lost in the area. It could be pitch black during the day and have a light it turns on at night to make it easy to spot from a distance.
Why
  • Thousands of tourists get lost hiking annually , It could help take that number down if the hikers knew where the closest villages were.
  • Could make it easier for search and rescue teams to find survivors if they could coordinate using those beacons as landmarks
  • It's easier to get into hiking without the worry of getting lost in the woods
How it works

Get a helium baloon with a fan mechanism inlaid with a reflective surface and light on the undererside. The fan is closed durung the day but unfurls at night to reflect the light. The black top is pretty easy to pinpoint on bright days and the light at the bottom makes it easy to spot from really far away at night.

[1]https://www.myopencountry.com/lost-woods/

5
Creative contributions

Portable lighthouse for the lost

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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković Mar 15, 2022
Great idea. Besides what Michaela D said about non-touristy spots being hesitant to have an addition to their skyline, there are some other things to solve.
My brother only recently bought a drone and already had to dogfight birds. I'm assuming birds and bats would sometimes attack the beacon, be it during the day or night. Or accidentally strike them.
The second issue would be that, as we are talking about areas in nature, there would be a risk of lamps causing wildfires in case they get cut on the chain somewhere by wear-and-tear, pesky kids, or a mentioned bird attack. So there would need to be LED lights as they are much safer. Yet not entirely and forest fires absolutely require all precautions, especially in the summer when people hike the most.
Oksana S (Pexels.com)
A cheap and similar way for people to combat getting lost, or at least getting found, is to have mini sky lanterns of sorts, but actually self-inflating helium balloons. So the people going on hikes can pack one just in case.
I saw on Amazon that these things are already quite small in bulk packages, 30x30cm a box. I'm sure they can be packed even smaller if it's just one or two in a pack.
Of course, lanterns usually run on fire, but that would be a fire hazard. But we can have these equipped with a LED light that would go on and off to attract attention of the rescue service. They would be attached to a light thread and the people lost would hold them to help navigate the search and rescue team.
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Hydrogen instead of helium

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Mar 15, 2022
Helium is scarce and not available unless it gets transported on a regular basis. Remote villages might find it difficult to get.
Fire-based lampions (sky lanterns) are an option but present a fire hazard if they crash. Also, the wind would prevent them from being used at all times.

On the other hand, hydrogen can be obtained from water. Is's explosive in presence of fire, but that can be solved by handling it carefully.


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Hang the balloons permanently where locals don't mind and only when necessary otherwise

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 15, 2022
Regarding the concern that Michaela D raised in a comment, if not for somewhat isolated villages, where the locals might not want to attract unnecessary attention, this would definitely work for villages and towns along popular hiking trails, pilgrim roads, etc., for example, Camino de Santiago is perhaps the most popular pilgrim way in the world, various small villages and towns along its trails likely make most of their income from tourists walking the pilgrim route (bars, shops, accommodations).
So I guess those towns would be more than happy to help the pilgrims get oriented towards them. Even though there are signs all along the way marking the correct path, they are not everywhere frequent enough and people still get lost. Sometimes the signs intentionally lead your way through a certain town and not through the straightest possible path (ambush marketing), so the ballons would basically serve the same purpose along with the practical one which is simply preventing people from getting lost.
For the towns/villages the inhabitants of which would mind the balloon beacons constantly hanging above (remote ones, not along the popular trails, etc.), the balloons could be raised temporarily, only when there was a report about people missing or if the hikers themselves somehow signaled for help, if the search party was looking for them, etc. There could be a dedicated tower in each such town/village from which the balloon would be raised and in which it would be stored when not in use, the town superior could be responsible for the procedure.
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Michaela D
Michaela D2 months ago
Great points! Villages like those along Camino de Santiago that are isolated and touristic at the same time would probably welcome such an idea! Also, some villages (not in Camino de Santiago necessarily) receive more tourists on specific days or periods of the year. These can be set as "balloon days", during which the balloons are up all the time. If future visitors know when the balloons are up they can choose to visit then and be safer. Potential side effect: too many people at the same time, then the "balloon days" can be extended"!
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Choosing the color of the balloon wisely

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 15, 2022
I'm not sure if the black color is really the best for attracting attention during the day. If the day is clear, perhaps, but what if it's cloudy or gloomy? I think somewhat fluorescent, reflective colors, like used for safety reflectors (salad green, bright orange, silver-white, etc., bright red might also be a good idea) might be the best option. Also, at night the light shined from the beacon would get strongly amplified by such reflective colors. Additional reflective materials could also be used.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
On hot sunny days, I noticed that black cars are easier to spot from a distance, so I thought black would be a good idea. But you do have a point. Black would be terrible in a forested area or any other place where it has to compete for attention with other things. Maybe the color could be dependent on the climate of the region? oh, and local customs too, for example, red is believed to be a forebearer of natural disasters in some places, so painting the sphere red wouldn't be advisable in such a case
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Balloons adjustable to offer rides with a view

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Michaela D
Michaela D Mar 16, 2022
A lighthouse balloon that also serves as a "hot air balloon". A small basket that carries 2-3 people will be attached to the balloon. The ride will be "vertical" and the balloon will not stray away from the village. Like this, it will remain a reliable "lighthouse". If possible, the basket will be easily removable, so that when people are not riding it, the basket is not attached to the balloon. Locals will enjoy the ride and the views for free, as an incentive to accept the balloons. The villages can decide how they want to use these balloons.
1) If they don't want to become too touristic, the rides will only be available to locals. Sundays will be "balloon-ride days".
2) If they do want to attract more tourists, everyone can ride the balloon and the fare revenue goes to the village.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
I don't think anyone can say no to that. The view from up there will be amazing regardless of region. Plus the novelty of seeing your home from the sky is a really great selling point.
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General comments

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Michaela D
Michaela D2 months ago
That's a great idea for hikers who are visitors but how about the locals? Many of them will not like a black balloon floating above their village all the time, especially if it is big enough to be eye-catching. I would guess people that live in villages immersed in nature would be opposed to human intervention in their sky. An exception would be if the locals rely a lot on tourism (and the balloon would make it easier for tourists to arrive), but I don't think this is often the case with remote villages...
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
Michaela D I think the color can be changed if black is too ominous. Consulting with them on color choice might make them get invested in it as something that's theirs instead of thinking about it as something that was just put there.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola2 months ago
I like the "lighthouse" parallel! What do you think how long should the rope be in order for the "balloon" to reach the height where it's clearly visible from all directions? Would the rope be too heavy? Or should the balloon be very big in that case?
Also, how would you solve the wind issue? If the rope is very long, the balloon could be blown away from the desired location or even grounded.
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Contrived _voice
Contrived _voice2 months ago
J. Nikola What if it had a lattice of pores minimizing air resistance and thus making it immune to the wind. Besides, It isn't a typical high-altitude balloon so I think adding some winglets for stability could be of some help. The weight of the rope is supposed to balance out the buoyancy of the gas.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola2 months ago
Contrived _voice Okay, adding lattice of pores could work, cool solution.
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