Thursday, August 27, 2009


With all the hub-bub around the launch and retrieval fiasco posting the actual images almost fell through the cracks. Here are the images Christopher Liked the best that he upload to Flickr. There were over 300 images, these are the cream of the crop.

I also wrote up a small photo-project on JPGMag

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shopping List

One of the primary goals of this project was to make this happen using nothing but off-the-shelf parts. I wanted to be able to make a shopping list of everything that is required to conduct your own experiments.
Below is a list of all the parts used on the first launch of the Super Happy Fun Time Space Balloon Picture Machine Project.

  • Canon A700 link (I got mine on eBay for $30, I'd check there first)
  • Lens protector / Filter attachment: 58mm barrel type lens adapter link (we actually used 52mm adapter and filters, but I couldn't find them again to link to them)
  • 58mm CPL Filter link
  • 4GB SD Card link
  • CHDK for the intervalometer function (that cameras don't come with) link
GPS / Tracking Device:
  • Pay as you go cellphone link we chose the i290
  • $10 of prepaid minutes (7-eleven has them, so does Radio Shack, and
  • Realtime GPS tracking software link we went with the level 2 tracking
  • Weather Balloon: Kaymont KCI1200 link
  • Parachute: 42" model rocket parachute link (we would've been just fine with a 36")
  • Helium: The fellow at Kaymont said that one KCI1200 would require 291 cubic feet of helium, but we didn't even use half of the tank. link
Christopher also built a small suspension trapeze that the camera and phone were zip-tied to, but I don't know where he got the parts or how much it cost. I believe it was less than $5 worth of carbon tubes and string. The launch video has a bit of detail pertaining to the trapeze rig.

Legal Concerns

I have been asked if this is legal. It is legal... enough. FAA Part 101 regulations stipulate what can and cannot go up unmanned and what you are required to do before during and after flight.
We decided to have a very small payload (less than 1/4 the smallest size mentioned in the FAA regulations) and just launch it guerrilla style.
If you are still unsure, homeboy here did the time to research this and write up his findings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rescue party

After the failure of the GPS we sent a rescue party up after the weather balloon.

The quality isn't the best.
Please excuse the singing -- we were all having fun.

Video of the launch

Here is the documentary footage of the launch, kindly taken by Jon Appleby a.k.a. Deathimmortal.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Release was a SUCCESS!!!!

Unfortunately, one minute twenty four seconds into the launch the GPS tracking device stopped updating its location.

Here is a shot of the launch.

Video of the launch will be on YouTube later.

So I guess you could say, the launch was a success, retrieval... so far, is a FAIL!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Realtime GPS Location

Here is the current location of our GPS tracking device.
Until the launch it is really just a Christopher Lincoln tracking device.

Launch info:

We are going to all meet Saturday 8-15-2009 at 12-noon in Los Banos here, at the Lowes by the Carl's Jr. & Taco Bell on the WEST SIDE OF TOWN along the 152.

View Larger Map

We have GPS!

GPS tracking is up and running!
We are using a Boost Mobile i290 phone running the Accutracking software, updating every 1 minute.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rig

First mockup assembly of the suspension and stabilization rig for the camera and tracking device.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What, Why, How, When

For such an awesome project you must be interested, so here you go.

What: Sending a Canon Digital Camera, a cell-phone GPS tracking device and a parachute deep into the sky propelled by a weather balloon. The camera is equipped with the CHDK running a script that will take one picture every few seconds until the memory card fills up, or the batteries die.

Why: 'Cause it'd be really cool to do. Also see previous post about the mission.

How: As I mentioned earlier, zip-tying a small pile of off-the-shelf electronics to a balloon.

When: The launch date is currently scheduled for August 15th 2009 to be launched from Los Banos, CA.

Bonus question: Why Los Banos?
Due to the shape of California's central valley and the possible drift the balloon will experience. The worst case scenario the balloon will drift fifty miles. There are no major towns within an eighty mile radius of Los Banos. If the balloon lands in some farmer's field, we can just pop in and get it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mission

• Get an object outside the majority of Earth's atmosphere and document the experience, using nothing but off-the-shelf products.
• To prove that the earth is round. -- when was the last time you "proved" it was?

To take awesome pictures like this:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why the name?

Super Happy = Awesome
Fun Time = Commercial grade parts
Space Balloon = A balloon is what is used to spirit out payload into space
Picture Machine = Camera
Project = Hobby