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My Space Balloon: Project Stratohab Success!! High School Student's Budget

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"We're making space more American. We're making space more democratic. We're making space more available, approachable and real to the average American."  - James Muncy, President of Polispace

As an avid maker and hobbyist, I support the open source initiative like the Arduino micro controller platform. When I decided to start this project 6 months ago, I dreamed of reaching space on a high school student's budget. Along the way, I also dreamed of publishing my research and development on near space, so we can make space more democratic and available to the everyday DIY-er.

Through my research, I never found a COMPLETE guide that would get me into space. Hence why the project took 6 months. This guide will be a FULL guide so you don't have to spend the same 6 months trying to figure out which systems work the best. For a reasonable budget, this inscrutable will get you into space. 

On August 19, 2012, we launch a near space balloon on a high school student's budget from Brookfield, CT, equipped with tracking equipment and a Canon camera programmed to take pictures every 15 seconds. We captured the entire journey on film.

http://stratohab.blogspot.com

All the photos: https://plus.google.com/photos/110326863516727335506/albums/5780029367725007809?authkey=CJq77Zb82ZPtsAE

Subscribe to me! - FULL 20 STEP INSTRUCTABLE, ONE OF THE LONGEST SINGLE PAGE NEAR SPACE GUIDES ON THE INTERNET!

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Totally awesome as well as an awesome presentation, what a great job you guiys did, I am proud of all of you that took part in this project. I am a ham radio operator an its so cool to see young people taking part in this type of venture, I will vote for your submission, great job.
zhho282 months ago

cool one.

dudes2 months ago

amazing! just a few suggestions, one maybe add another camera, two use a wide angle lens, and three, put of of the cameras on the bottom, looking down.

sconner13 months ago

Compressed gas tanks should stay upright.

sconner13 months ago

Compressed gas tanks should stay upright.

Peterb4698 months ago
Hello, I am planning to do a weather balloon launch in a few weeks. I just want to ensure that the balloon has enough lift. How much helium I would need to purchase for about 5.75-6 lbs of lift? My estimate was just a standard 110 cubic feet helium tank.The weather balloon is 1200 grams by the way.
cool one
cool one
um...... your making Space more democratic by making it more American ????
t.rohner2 years ago
Very nice instructable.

I wasn't aware that getting a HAM license is so easy today in the U.S.
I made mine 30 years ago, in Switzerland ;-)
It's gotten easier since then.
TechDech1 year ago
I really like your project, but isn't it a bit risky for a normal person trying this?
techno guy2 years ago
I dont like the way you have to do all this regulatory government stuff just to send a balloon to space. But never the less, nice 'ible.
nerys2 years ago
Got some questions.

did the Celluar track all the way to 65k ? at what altitude did you lose the signal from that? what altitude did you reacquire if you lost it ?
robotkid249 (author)  nerys2 years ago
Yea, thanks. The cellular pocketfinder only worked up to about 5,000 feet. However, the HAM radio tracked it through the entire flight up to 65,000 and gave us speed and position reports which was pretty awesome. We only got a signal from the PocketFinder when it was almost near the ground. About the last 10 minutes of flight.
ahhh pity. $149 sounded great !!

I was thinking of going with a SPOT device. $99 a year and you can get them online for under $100. but at $200 I might as well go the extra $100 and get the micro trak.

I plan to push for over 130k (theoretical max is 180k for helium) I might go with hydrogen and push for 150k. its cheaper and you need less of it and it can push higher faster. (it really is not dangerous your 5gallon gas tank is more dangerous) as long as you respect it.

Hydrogen (pure) just does not burn or explode as much as people think it does. now mix it with air and WATCH OUT :-)

eventually I want to send up a "GLIDER" to drop.

and after that I want to push for 200k with a rockoon under the balloon (launch a rocket when the balloon is ready to pop)
robotkid249 (author)  nerys2 years ago
We looked at the SPOT, but their prices were way too high in comparison to the microtrak which would provide a much more accurate signal. The SPOT costs $99 for the unit with a $100 service charge and another $50 service charge if you want tracking. Add it up and you get $250 for a device that doesn't even work too well...

Good luck.
Hmmm I was informed the every 2 minutes "notifications" of where your at it INCLUDED in the $99 a year no extra charge. $50 if you want LIVE tracking.

is that incorrect?

you can get USED spots for around and even under $100

you DO need to 3 axis gimble mount them. they only work of "points" up at the sky :-) if its upside down it will not work.

but again when I was looking at this a micro trak was a LOT more money. $300 is really not bad.
makermike2 years ago
Very complete Instructable! I've been interested in launching a high-altitude balloon for a while now and have perused various sites on the web for hints and inspiration, so I appreciate the work that went into this Instructable.

One question though--I thought that FAA approval wasn't required if the payload was below a certain weight. Still a good idea to contact them though.

Still hoping to get things together and hoping for the price of Helium to come back down to Earth!
The world is running out of Helium for ever, most of the wastage goes in helium balloons like yours. Without Helium, MRI (Magnetic Resonant Machines) machines in hospitals will not be able to function as they need liquid Helium in a closed circuit cooling supply.

Pure Hydrogen is used for met balloons and could safely be used providing the balloon is inflated and launched remotely in a open area. Just google 'Remote Weather Balloon Launcher'.
Uh, really? You mean that a party space balloon is going to collapse the birthday, event and helium balloon industry along with destroying our ability for better health? Even the continued distillation from the vast quantities of newly discovered natural gas along with the resultant producing outcome from uranium radiation will not keep up with this youngman's and others scientific explorations? And leave the planet void of vital helium? Wow! Whooda thunk?

I'll keep worrying about the ground and continue recycling....... :)

Good Instructable!!!
The amount of Helium that is found alongside Uranium ore is dependent on geological factors and the amount is very minimal.
Helium derived from natural gas or oil is only as abundant as the supplies of the crude product, which as you may know is running out as well. (newly discovered natural gas fields??? Where???)
The price of Helium has quadrupled since 2004 due to demand exceeding supply. If people want to play with balloons and talk funny then expect to pay alot more for it.
Prices risi.g because of false rumor and they can. I've traded and do not take to panic but, sense.

New finds? One is, if you listen to rumor it could be one of the biggest is Marcellous (spelling?) Shale in NY, OH, PA, WV. There is reports of another bigger (?) in the mid-west, more in Canada and the government is focusing, as well as business on exploration within the states, finally. One cause, use, excuse for rumor and false commodity imflation, or real is to motivatve private industry to produce. Greed is a mighty motivator. But, if a shortage CT is in use and more technology everday to replace current old stuff.
Anyway, I applaud the youngman and I do conserve and try to be aware too. So, I thank you for more news an insight.
I didnt realise that !
I knew that the Hindenberg had to use hydrogen because the US wouldnt sell helium to Germany ( at that time )
Until recently we had the biggest franchise of steak houses here in South Africa giving away helium baloons to kids ! I can't say I have seen them lately though..
oldboffin2 years ago
"We're making space more American. We're making space more democratic. We're making space more available, approachable and real to the average American."

If space is American, does this mean that I have to ask permission from the FAA to launch a baloon here in South Africa ?

England thought once that it could rule the world, and there was a Boston Tea Party :-)
robotkid249 (author)  oldboffin2 years ago
:) It was just a reference to making space more accessible. I'm not sure what the rules are in south africa. Good luck
just kidding, it did sound bit pretentious !
syates32 years ago
Slightly off topic but it would have been amusing if that box was crafted to look like a Love Cube, just encase anyone saw it from up there lol.
What was the total cost of the entire project?? Thanks!
grammers2 years ago
Wow good job! I watched your video before reading the instructable and thought things like, "good thing an airplane didn't hit that" and, "oh no! terminal velocity is going to hurt on the way back down". Then, I realized that you contacted the FAA, made a parchute, tracked the balloon. WOW!!!
nerys grammers2 years ago
Very cool man! a few notes. you don't need FAA permission unless you go over 4 pounds. you only need to notify them not ask permission.

the timelapse is great !!! nice to see some higher quality pictures on one of these. VERY nice.
robotkid249 (author)  nerys2 years ago
You should have to morals to at least file a NOTAM (notice of airmen) to prevent collision.
You misunderstand or I was not clear.

A NOTAM is not permission. its simply what it says. A Notice TO airmen. nothing more. I give notice all the time for our Rocket Launches and of course they have the OPPOSITE of the intended effect ie they DRAW airmen to the area who are curious and they get annoyed when we don't fly not realizing WE ARE NOT ALLOWED to launch a rocket while they occupy our airspace envelope so all launching ceases till they leave :-) hehe

you ARE required to inform the FAA and that process "WILL" result in a NOTAM.

but that is not permission. that is simply notification. an understandable requirements when in an advanced society where the airspace is heavily used. ie they can not tell you "NO" without cause. you are simply "informing" them so they can be aware of it and so the NOTAM can be filed for pilot safety.

but its important to understand the difference between NOTIFICATION a reasonable societal requirement and "PERMISSION" ie NO you may not do this unless "we" say ok.

the difference is pretty critical in the long run.
blongmier2 years ago
robotkid249,
Sweet job on the launch and nice instructions! I hope this helps more students get their projects to the near-space environment.

regards,
Ben
www.ProjectAether.org
spizzak2 years ago
Why can the rope not have a break force of greater than 50 lbs?
robotkid249 (author)  spizzak2 years ago
FAA rules in case your payload goes into a plane. it can get chewed up easily, I guess.
wilgubeast2 years ago
Did you enter this into the Hands-On Learning Contest? If not, could you?
robotkid249 (author)  wilgubeast2 years ago
I did and it should show up in the contest page. it's awaiting moderator approval. Thanks for the encouragement!
angelabchua2 years ago
wow wow wow. awesome video, awesome photos, and documentation!
kebmoore2 years ago
The work that went into your project and into publishing this guide are impressive. Well done!

Do you plan additional flights now that you have all of the prerequsites covered and most of the equipment? Will you be sending additional experiments into near-space?
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