DIY projects are all about sweat, tears and learning from mistakes. Just ask a group of electronics hobbyists that recently launched a $25 balloon bought off eBay with a payload carrying an Android G1 phone, two cameras and other assorted electronics up to nearly 70,000 feet in the air.
“Fundamentally, we are all space enthusiasts,” says Mikolaj Habryn, one of the participants.”We wanted to see if you can get a balloon up to high altitudes that can be ultimately used for ideas such as mounting a telescope or measuring radiation levels.”
The team successfully launched the balloon and gathered some great photographs but also made some fatal mistakes in their planning.
The entire project conceived and launched in just about a week comes from members of Noisebridge, a collectively operated hacker space in San Francisco.
In just a week, the group bought the equipment and built a balloon. The balloon itself is a military surplus weather balloon that weighs about 5 lbs and when inflated can lift 15 lbs to 20 lbs.
For the payload, the team put two cameras that were tweaked for time-lapse photography. The cameras were programmed to take snapshots every 30 seconds.
“Because we were worried about temperature problems, we put it inside an insulated cooler,” says Habryn.
They also included a ham radio with a position beacon and a GPS that that could work at high altitudes.
With some help from his colleagues at Google, Habryn programmed the T-Mobile phone to send its GPS co-ordinates through text messaging whenever in range of a cellular network.
“We had some custom software that would also record all the data from the phone’s sensors has such as the accelerometers and GPS and save it to the phone’s s internal memory,” says Habryn.
Originally posted 2010-02-21 14:30:16.