Category Archives: Uncategorized

High Altitude Balloon Launch – Binary-06 – 20 April 2019

Hi Everybody,

We are doing our first High Altitude Balloon Launch for 2019 (Binary-06) on the 20th of April (Saturday). Everybody is invited to join us for the day to launch and chase the balloon. We will be launching from the Leeukop Farm Airfield in Deneysville.

The flight is part of the ZS4SRK Balloon competition. For this balloon we are going back to basics to try and get a new height record for us. The balloon will only contain the aprs tracker, sstv transmitter and the ZS6FZ repeater (roughly 700g payload in total). During the time the balloon is in the air radio amateurs will participate in a competition to make as many contacts via the balloon as possible. (Radio Amateurs: please check the blue book for rules).

Details for repeater:

Uplink: 433.550Mhz – 88.5Hz Tone to Activate
Downlink: 145.450Mhz

Looking forward to see how many contacts we make via the repeater.

The SSTV camera will fly again and will be transmitting images every few minutes on 144.500Mhz.

We will not have a gopro on this flight.

Previous Launches:
17 November 2018
4 Aug 2018
9 June 2018
17 March 2018 –
15 April 2015 –

About the Mission – Binary 06

Equipment on this flight:

SSTV Camera Transmitter (400mW-500mW) (ZR6TG) – Will take a photo and transmit it every 5 minutes. There will also be some static images in the mix. Can you collect all 6 of them ?
Transmitted on 144.500 FM, Martin 1 Mode
You can use MMSSTV to decode (

APRS Transmitter (300mW) – Will transmit position and altitude every minute

Technical Info:
Callsign: ZS4SRK-11
Transmitted on 144.800
You can follow on!call=ZS4SRK-11&timerange=3600&tail=3600

Please also share to any Amateur Radio Groups/Clubs
We are using a 600g balloon (white). We are estimating 2-3 hours mission.

We have the following challenges happening during the launch:

Primary launch window: 20 April 2019 – 7:00 (we start setting up somewhere around 6:15)

Depending on weather or technical difficulties the launch and/or the payload contents can change at any time, check the telegram group for up to date information:

Telegram group used for tracking and comms:

Launch Site: Leeukop Farm Airfield.: 26* 52’ 02.44”S 28* 04’18.51”E

Special thanks to Lizette Meyer for allowing us to launch from their field again 🙂

Fun Facts:

This will be the 6th BinarySpace High Altitude Balloon Launch
This will be the 6th launch using the Trackduino APRS tracker
This will be the 3rd launch from Leeukop Farm Airfield
This will be the 5th launch with SSTV camera

Everybody is welcome to come and join us 🙂

If you are interested in sponsoring future launches then please reach out to us. Thanks to HTI for sponsoring the Helium/Balloon for this flight.

Prediction (16 April 2019)

Prediction (15 April 2019)

Our near space experiment – Binary 002 – 17 March 20180

A full write up coming soon, but here is the video so long:

Flight Info:

Altitude Reached: ~31.8km
Distance Travelled : 150km
Distance from Launch : 150km
Payload Weight : 750g
Ascent Rate : 3.36m/s
Flight Time : 171 Minutes

Many Thanks to Richard Morgan (MorganCoat) who sponsored the flight!

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the day. We will be doing this again with some fun experiments soon.

New TECH Chall3nge – “Blind as a Bat”


Good news everyone!

It is time for a new Binaryspace hosted TECH Chall3nge !

“Blind as a Bat”

Design and build a robot that would traverse a maze by dead reckoning only.

You may:

Build your robot as you wish within the restrictions below.
Use spacers or positioning aids that are not part of the robot

You must:

You robot must be propelled by two 28BYJ-48 stepper motors , no other propulsion allowed.
Your robot must present a solid barrier to the timer laser, the laser will be approx 30 mm from the floor.

You may not:

Your robot may not be bigger than 150 mm length by 150 mm width. No height restriction.
Your robot may not have any sensors that gathers information from outside the robot, this includes gyroscopes and compass modules.

The field of battle:

The fied of battle is a maze drawn on an A1 cardboard posterboard (available from CNA for approx R30).

To prepare your own practice maze:

  1. In pencil draw lines 200 mm from all sides.
  2. Draw 2 more lines 50 mm towards the INSIDE of the paper from the first set of lines through the width of the paper
  3. Mark the pencil lines of the small blocks with a thick marker “two thirds” from the bottom on the left and the same from the top on the right.
  4. You can now erase (or just leave) the first pencil lines except 2 for the start and end blocks. The encased small areas is the no go areas.


The timer will start when the robot passes the first laser at the 200mm mark on the start block and stop when it reaches the 200 mm line on the end block. The maze will be run 3 times to ensure accuracy. Time will be added to the total for every time the robot goes off the paper or cross a no go area.

Best time wins maze prize. Coolest robot (by mob vote) wins coolest robot prize.

Entry fee is R 50 payable on first build night.

There will be two build nights and then the competition:

16th of March: First build night and entry fee payable. On the first build night you must, at the minimum, have a design or concept ready for your robot. If you already have something built even better. On this night you can get advice and suggestions on your robot should you need it.

13th of April: Second build night. Building and tweaking robots. On this night you must have something ready to physicaly build. This is also for advice and help should you need it.


BinarySpace – Assistance Requested

Hi Guys,

As most of you know BinarySpace has recently got notice on our current space and we need to be out by the end of the month. It was a great space that served us well but due to unforeseen circumstances won’t be available anymore.
We were lucky that our space was pretty much 100% member funded for the past couple of years and we managed to do some awesome projects!
DSC07812 (Medium)
Unfortunately we have been scouting for a new space the past couple of weeks and while we have found some options they are all mostly our of budget. We are currently looking at a decent sized space that will allow us to continue and to expand. Unfortunately it is still out of our budget. We do believe that with the space we are looking at we can turn BinarySpace into a more sustainable environment, but we need some help to get started thus the reason for this email. We are looking for some companies that would be willing to sponsor us some rent money. In exchange we can provide branding and signage opportunities in the space and on our website/fb site and on our projects. Currently our expenses with the new space will be between R5000 and R6000 a month. We have some membership monies coming in each month that can cover part of it, but we are hoping to find a few companies that can come and brand our general meetup or training room in exchange for paying a part of our rent.
We posting this everywhere not to request sponsorship from you as individual, but rather to help spread the word and get it out to major companies that would like to get involved (I’m thinking Intel, Microsoft, etc)
We have done some very cool projects in the past couple of years including launching a near space balloon, 3d printed projects, monthly projects, PlenZA and hackathon participation. We have also provided a space where anyone can join in on the projects and learn new skills/technologies.
ball1 (Medium) (Small)
It would be a shame to close down BinarySpace due to lack of space, but we are doing everything we can to keep it up and running.
Thanks and Happy Hacking!

BinarySpace V2.0

It’s been more than two years since I sent out an email to the House4Hack mailinglist to find out if there would be any interest in a hackerspace in the Vaal Triangle. It started small enough with just a few friends playing with 3d printers and enjoying some beer. We outgrew my computer room in a few months and now two years later we have outgrown my workshop.

It’s time to expand BinarySpace and move into a new chapter: BinarySpace V2.0

We have been very fortunate to be able to run a MakerSpace the past two years with minimal costs, but unfortunately expansion means a bigger space and better tools which cost money. I’ve been thinking about a membership option for months now and discussed it with various members from BinarySpace and other local hackerspaces. The general consensus is that it is the way to go, but lots of people expressed concern that it would chase new and existing members away. Also you have a bit of the chicken and egg problem: Makers/Hackers have no problem paying for a space with nice tools and workspace, but you need the income to create the space and get the tools. This means that your initial members will be paying fees for a space with minimal tools until the cashflow is there to improve tools and space.

The one thing everybody agrees on though is getting a bigger space (the last few meetups got a bit cramped). Myself and a few members have been looking at various options to get a new space with minimal risk (ie. somebody getting stuck with a huge rent bill and nobody is contributing). Chris came to the rescue with a space double the size, not far from our current space and rent agreement that works for both parties.

So we are going ahead and creating BinarySpace V2.0 with different membership options. This is new territory for us, but I guess if we don’t try, we won’t know.

Our new space becomes available on the 1st of December and the plan is to start fixing and organizing the new space on Saturday the 6th of December. We will also be having an election for a management team on the 4th of December 2014 (essentially the last meetup at our current space).

We added a new wiki with some starting information on the new space which will hopefully grow with information as we figure it out. I’m sure not everybody will agree with everything but instead of getting negative, please talk to us. BinarySpace is a member community owned and run by it’s members. This means that if you want to change things, then make it happen 🙂

Lets see what happens 🙂

Tom (BinarySpace Co-Founder)

Filament width sensor, mini quadcopter and more … (Meetup 10/17/2014)

We had another awesome meetup last night, lots of different projects going on and some more new faces.

Chris showed of his filament width sensor , we built the pcb last week in the reflow oven. He got it to work and was testing it the past week. Looks like it works great. Next step is to integrate it into a 3d printer so that it can measure and adjust the printing according to the actual diameter of the filament.




Some of the other projects currently happening is the LED POV Globe that Albert and Gerhard designed. We cut their first prototype last night and they hope to have it spinning by the next meetup. It’s an impressive design and I can’t wait to see it in action:


Another project that grabbed every-bodies attention was the mini-quad experiments that Romeo is busy with. He got his hands on some of the motors used in the Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter. Last night the goal was to get them spinning and lifting a basic lasercut frame.



After some power tests it was decided to tie it down to the table… (before someone loses an eye)


Success!! (Though not stable by any means…). Here is a video of the first lift:




(Some more raw video footage here)

Next up is some control electronics and with a bit of luck there will be a bunch of these flying around at BinarySpace soon…

Other projects worked on included the sumobot builds, standalone arduino compatible boards etc. There was so much cool stuff going on that I never got to my own projects :p


All in all it was a good evening. Thanks to all and see everybody next week for the Infinity Mirror build 🙂



GeeXpo – ‘Show and Tell’

We were invited to do a little bit of show and tell at the GeeXpo this weekend at the North-West University (Vaal Triangle Campus). We weren’t sure exactly what to take along so we decided to take as much as possible!

DSC_7429 (Large) DSC_7430 (Large) DSC_7432 (Large) DSC_7434 (Large)

We ended up with two tables filled with 3d printers, various robots and lots of 3d printed items.

It was deliciously geeky and colorful…

We met with a lot of great people and discussed various fun activities/projects for the future.

It was a great experience showing people how all the robots worked and explaining the whole concept of 3d printing. I guess we sometimes get immune to the wonders of 3d printing and robotics and it was a great experience to see how people react to printers printing objects and little robots running across the floor.

Young and old asked all kinds of questions and we had loads of fun explaining it to everybody

DSC_7442 (Large)


We hope to do more show and tell’s in the future so if anybody wants us to come do a show and tell at your school, club or event then please do let us know 🙂

Thanks to Lee, Sebastian and Chris who came out on Saturday to help with the Show and Tell. Thanks to Sune from the NWU who invited us.

Hacking MyEskom

[written by Chris Swart]

Eskom recently introduced their new grid power status tracker; where Eskom keeps us up to date with their Green/ Yellow / Red power status, where Green indicates the grid is stable, orange shows an increase in grid congestion and red indicates the grid is saturated. At the orange level, it is recommended you switch off unneeded electrical appliances, while at the red level Eskom request you switch off any appliances that is not critical.

This new status tracking website does make it easier to stay up to date, but a stand alone display will make it much more visible, and maybe help reduce electrical consumption when a bright red display confronts you. To get the data from Eskom’s website, a BinarySpace challenge was launched on a Friday morning, with a midnight deadline. The goal was simple: Create a Python script that will return the current status, without using too many libraries. Normally this involve scraping html pages for the appropriate tags and posting back the results. But Eskom threw an oddball in using a dynamic page that does not contain any real data in the html code.

Chris managed to get the values using webkit.WebView but more as a workaround as a true solution. Lee found a way in bash, but still had to parse the JSON with an external tool, and had to rewrite the code to work in Python. Between Sebastian and Lee the script was perfected.

A red herring appeared in the form of City level status. The MyEskom website allows you to view the status of your specific area instead of the national status. This can become handy for a visual indicator, or for building hardware that automatically switches off heaters, geysers and pool pumps. Passing the city to the website is a possibility, but makes the script slightly less user friendly since area ID’s are used instead of names.

The solution: sign up on the Eskom site, set your area, and pass the username and password into the Python script.

And the resulting Crowd Sourced Code writing script is available here:

Now to implement some hardware. Tom added the script to his homeserver, sending the data to an Arduino to display the status on some Neopixels. He laser cut a perspex square and stuck the Neopixels in.

Now a display lives at Binaryspace to indicate the power saturation status.

DSC_7301 (Small)