We have both been very interested in space for quite some time, and we have seen many amazing photos of the universe around us. Seeing these photos we have both wondered if we could ever get a picture of space ourselves. When the DIY (Do It Yourself) project came along this year, both Grant and i decided to send a weather balloon, with a camera and GPS tracker, into the stratosphere in order to gather pictures of space on our own. The project of course was not easy, but with our determination we got the weather balloon into space. We launched the weather balloon in between Maricopa, Arizona and Mobile, Arizona, and the balloon ended up landing on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. We have received pings indicating that the package has stopped, and that it is resting about 200 feet off of a road. We have not picked up the payload yet, but we have developed a plan to obtain the package from the forest and get the shots of the stratosphere that the GoPro took.

Step 1: Supplies

600g Weather Balloon (High Altitude Science)

70 Cubic Feet of Helium or Enough to Fill 140 12" Balloons (Any party store)

Foam Cooler

70-100' of Rope

Bright Paint (Optional)

SPOT Trace GPS Tracker

Aluminum Foil

1m Parachute (High Altitude Science)

Duct Tape

Zip Ties


Nozzle For Helium Tanks

Latex Gloves

Step 2: Preparing the Cooler

Cut off the top half of the cooler and throw away

Paint the outside of the cooler and lid

Cut out a large hole for the GoPro lens and a smaller one for the power button

Crumple up aluminum foil and put in the cooler to reflect radar

Tape GoPro into the cooler

Secure the SPOT Tracker to the lid of the cooler

Put lid on cooler upside down and tape the lid to the box

Tie rope securely around cooler

Tape rope down to box

Step 3: Inflating Balloon

Attach the inflation nozzle to the tank

Put the end of the balloon on the tanks nozzle

Put latex gloves on so the oils in your hands do not eat away at the balloon

Put your hand around the balloon to make sure no helium escapes

Release helium into balloon

Make sure all of the necessary helium goes into the balloon

Step 4: Attaching the Rope to the Cooler, Parachute and Balloon

Tie the rope around the cooler similar to tying a present

Tape the rope down to the cooler

Tie the other end of the rope to the bottom of the parachute

Put latex gloves on

Get another piece of rope to tie to the top of the parachute and to the balloon

Make a noose and put the nozzle of the balloon through the the noose

Fold the nozzle over and put zip ties around it to secure the nozzle

Put tape around the zip ties to secure and protect the balloon

Step 5: Launching and Tracking

Make sure all connections are secure

Release balloon into an area that has little to no power lines or other obstructions

Download the SPOT app or download the SPOT app

Set the updates for every five minutes

Watch the balloon until it lands (up to 200 miles away)

Enter coordinates into Google Maps and figure out how to retrieve your payload

<p>Not sure why tracking a payload with a cell is illegal but we do it legally all the time with amateur radio and APRS..........just got <a href="http://www.aprs.fi">www.aprs.fi</a> </p><p>73 Paul N0AH</p><p>AB0BX Club Trustee</p>
<p>A cell phone is simply a radio transmitter that tries to talk to any <br>cell towers it can. When it's on the ground, that's about 3 or 4 cell <br>towers with an active connection to you. When it is 100,000 ft up, your <br>phone can transmit a several state radius (thousands of cell towers). <br>Each tower will connect to your phone, potentially overwhelming the <br>system. It's like yelling in your room versus yelling in a library, with<br> a bullhorn. </p><p>APRS is the way to go. It transmits at low power, once a minute, and the worst you can do is piss off the ham radio operators, not the national cell network.</p>
Finding the tracker was the hardest part of this project. We found some trackers that use cell phone towers but your payload would have to land somewhere that there was cell reception. Tracking a payload by cell is also illegal in the U.S. We really did not find any other viable options.
<p>Can you please expound on your statement that, &quot;Tracking a payload by cell is also illegal in the U.S.&quot;? That's what I was planning to use. If it's illegal, then how is the &quot;Find My Phone&quot; app on iPhones legal? Isn't that the same thing?</p>
I am not sure exactly why that law is in place I just came across it in my research. There was no reason why. It just said a payload can not be tracked by a cellular device. So it seems it could interfere with planes or other things up in the atmosphere. I am sure you could find out the exact law.
<p>Do you know if there are any FAA restrictions for doing this?</p>
<p>These are a few of the 2800+ photos we got from the launch.</p>
wow looks awesome and inspiring. definitely makes me miss that big bright blue AZ sky
<p>I'd love to see some of the pictures you were able to get.</p>
<p>I've also been wanting to send a weather balloon into space! What did you use to track the payload?</p>
We used a SPOT Trace, you can buy it for $70 at REI. The downside is that you have to buy a $99 service plan that is good for a year. The SPOT worked extremely well, tracking it into the middle of nowhere with no cell service.
<p>Thanks for your reply! I'm on a budget of 75-100$ for the tracker. I have been looking around and I could find nothing. Do you know of any other options?</p>

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