Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Project: High Altitude Weather Balloon

Alright, you people better settle in. This is going to be a long post.

 Okay, now that I've warned you, I'm glad to announce my new project. It's going to be a weather balloon to SPACE (or like 100,000 feet). This has long been a desire of mine to send a tiny box filled with gadgets to space, and I have the money to pursue it now.

It all started out with a passion for space...

About 5 years ago I thought it would be a good idea to take an old para foil kite from our garage, make a Styrofoam box, and slap a camera inside to see what the ground looks like from the sky.
This is very similar to the kite I had (and probably still do)

This is similar to the rigging system I used later on.
Then I found this gem on my old youtube account.

 That's footage of my old house and property. Pretty shaky I know. This footage was simply breath taking to me when I finally pulled the kite down and looked at the film. This was before Google Earth had the definition it did today, you can imagine my excitement that I had being able to record this insane point of view with a kite, a camera, and a windy afternoon.

Now fast forward a couple of years to the summer of 2014. I just finished my first year of college at ISU in Computer Engineering and I'm currently (at the time of this blog post) working as an intern at Garmin International. This idea was rekindled partially out of the money that I'm making as an intern and the go-and-do-it mentality at Garmin. With all this background and passion to do something, I want to go higher and I want to see more than ever before.

I want to see the dark sky. I want to see the edge of the horizon arc in front of me. I want to experience space.

Enter the weather balloon, a simple device that will transport a scientific payload directly up, pop at its max altitude then fall back to Earth with a parachute. No electronics needed... unless you want to get a good view. This is also where Garmin comes into play. I have an employee discount on their action camera called the VIRB Elite. You might ask why I didn't just buy a Go Pro instead. For a couple of reasons actually.
\/ Check it out below \/

First, I have a good discount being a Garmin associate
Second, the VIRB uses a better camera sensor (a better chip from the same company actually) than the Go Pro.
Third, the VIRB is actually made to be outdoors and doesn't need a case, and also has a much better temp range than the Go Pro.
Fourth, the VIRB has automatic altitude tracking using GPS, meaning that it can turn on and off at certain heights making it PERFECT for this type of project.

Not only will the VIRB take video but it will also do GPS tracking as well.

I'll also use a GTU10 for tracking the balloon after it comes down.

Thanks for reading part one of my high altitude weather balloon project! I'll be posting more updates as I get parts / make designs for the gondola.


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