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.
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!
Vote for this instructable in the hurricane laser contest!
Step 1: Safety - Calling the FAA
In order to get approval, you must talk things over with the FAA if you're in the united states since they govern the skies. I called the U.S. NOTAM office. 1-877-487-6867. Be prepared to play some phone tag. Be diligent. You can't launch without this clearance.
They'll ask you a bunch of questions about launch time, location, and payload weight. A full list can be found in the FAA guide.
(a) Prelaunch notice: Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate an unmanned free balloon unless, within 6 to 24 hours before beginning the operation, he gives the following information to the FAA ATC facility that is nearest to the place of intended operation:
(1) The balloon identification.
(2) The estimated date and time of launching, amended as necessary to remain within plus or minus 30 minutes.
(3) The location of the launching site.
(4) The cruising altitude.
(5) The forecast trajectory and estimated time to cruising altitude or 60,000 feet standard pressure altitude, whichever is lower.
(6) The length and diameter of the balloon, length of the suspension device, weight of the payload, and length of the trailing antenna.
(7) The duration of flight.
(8) The forecast time and location of impact with the surface of the earth.
(b) For solar or cosmic disturbance investigations involving a critical time element, the information in paragraph (a) of this section shall be given within 30 minutes to 24 hours before beginning the operation.
(c) Cancellation notice: If the operation is canceled, the person who intended to conduct the operation shall immediately notify the nearest FAA ATC facility.
(d) Launch notice: Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall notify the nearest FAA or military ATC facility of the launch time immediately after the balloon is launched.
§ 101.39 Balloon position reports.
(a) Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall:
(1) Unless ATC requires otherwise, monitor the course of the balloon and record its position at least every two hours; and
(2) Forward any balloon position reports requested by ATC.
(b) One hour before beginning descent, each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall forward to the nearest FAA ATC facility the following information regarding the balloon:
(1) The current geographical position.
(2) The altitude.
(3) The forecast time of penetration of 60,000 feet standard pressure altitude (if applicable).
(4) The forecast trajectory for the balance of the flight.
(5) The forecast time and location of impact with the surface of the earth.
(c) If a balloon position report is not recorded for any two-hour period of flight, the person operating an unmanned free balloon shall immediately notify the nearest FAA ATC facility. The notice shall include the last recorded position and any revision of the forecast trajectory. The nearest FAA ATC facility shall be notified immediately when tracking of the balloon is re-established.
(d) Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall notify the nearest FAA ATC facility when the operation is ended.