The (wall of) Ubiquitous balloons, (in progress)

A balloon artwork running upon MQTT communication.


I want to create numbers of balloon units that can breathe by themselves, became bigger and smaller slowly. Also could be controlled by a central controller.

Fig.1 Two designs of the unit out looking. 1. The balloon is on a little box, all the control system in the box. 2. Balloon laying in a cubic frame, a box contain the control system put under the frame.
Fig.2 One potential setup of the spreading balloon installation.

MQTT and the Control System

Abstractly, there are two separate systems were used to control the balloon size. The first one is the MQTT, all the data running through the MQTT broker and sending to each unit to control the size.

Fig.3 The networking diagram of the MQTT devices.

MQTT broker setting

I create some MQTT users for each balloon unit. And they have limited access to reading and writing topics to the broker.

Fig.4 User Access authorization to different topics
  • tmptest, esp32 are two users for testing the system.
Fig.5 Sign in with user balloonUnit01. Could not send and read messages under balloonUnit02 topic.

Design for Unit

The whole unit design is way harder than I thought. There are serval components in the units:

  • 1 ×Air Pressure Sensor MPX5010GP
  • 2 × Solenoid valves
  • 2 × Relay
  • 1 × 12V DC Power Source
  • 1 × DC Power Jack
  • 1 × 7805 Regulator
  • 1 × Y connector for pip
  • 2 × 4mm connector
  • 2 × LED (Red and Blue)
  • 2-meter Soft Pip
  • ESP32S

ESP32, EPS12, ESP8266, Arduino Nano 33 IoT

Fig.6 All chips I test, from left to right ESP32, ESP12, ESP8266, Arduino 33 IoT
Table.1 Pros and Cons of Chips.


Fig.7 Diagram of the single unit.
Fig.8 Airflow Route.
Fig.9 Valve1 Have a metal hat to lock to protect the tube fall off. Valve 2 only has a ring to lock the tube.

Some Test of the Air

Video.1 The pip slows down the airflow.
Video.2 First Pump I got, super not powerful, running at 12V 60W.
Video.3 Second Pump I got, super powerful, running at 220V 600W. After the video, the balloon exploded.
Video.4 Test the assembled system. Valve working great. But after this test, I add the plastic Y-connector, air emitted from it. Eight new metal connector is on the way.

Code and Test

The code for the ESP32.