Not Quite Space - High Altitude Balloons

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by djellison, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. djellison macrumors 68020

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    Pasadena CA
    #1
    I've wanted to do my own amateur high altitude balloon project for some time. However, it's significantly harder and more involved than one might think. All I knew is that I wanted to send cameras to high altitude to take cool photographs. I didn't know how.

    Fortunately, I met people who do. James Coxon ( http://www.pegasushabproject.org.uk/wiki/doku.php ) invited me to provide the payload for our first joint project - HAPS 1 ( High Altitude Photo System )

    His avionics side was quite adventurous. My photo side was a single Canon Powershot A560 running a hacked firmware with a script to take movies and stills.

    Long story short - it worked ( although everything went wrong on the day )
    http://www.pegasushabproject.org.uk/wiki/doku.php/missions:haps:haps-1 for details. - 32.3km altitude - 900 photos - a hell of chase to get it back.

    Amazingly, only 4 days later, a member of the CU Spaceflight team ( http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~cuspaceflight/ ) asked if I wanted to take my camera on another flight with their plan for a dawn launch. HELL YES says I - net result - from Thursday at 0700 to Friday at 2300 - I didn't sleep - instead at 0407 on the Friday morning - we launched again. I couldn't follow for the full chase and recovery, but the radio system worked beautifully to the point that the recovery car was less than 1km from the landing point at touch down.

    Their paylods were called Nova, and mine is HAPS - so this was Nova 8 / HAPS-D (d for dawn) - and it was a stunner - lot of videos etc here


    http://vimeo.com/1628664 Ascent Part 1
    http://vimeo.com/1628493 Ascent Part 2
    http://vimeo.com/1628497 Ascent Part 3
    http://vimeo.com/1628414 Descent


    Movies from the HAPS-D camera

    http://vimeo.com/1628947 Ascent Part 1
    http://vimeo.com/1628809 Ascent Part 2
    http://vimeo.com/1628810 Ascent Part 3
    http://vimeo.com/1626812 Descent


    http://vimeo.com/1628991 All of the still images at 6fps from the HAPS-D camera
    http://vimeo.com/1629086 All of the still images at 6fps from the Nova 8 camera

    Some of the best stills are here
    http://gallery.me.com/djellison#100034

    So, my plucky Powershot A560 has twice, been to a place where it's -50 deg C, and 99% of the atmosphere is below you...and twice performed perfectly!!

    This is a really popular hobby in the US - not so much in the UK yet, but it's picking up. It's the closest thing to spaceflight an amateur can get - and it's just the most amazing experience, especially when helped by the brilliant talents of Pegasus and CU Spaceflight!

    Attached - an image from about 20 miles above East Anglia in the UK. See if you can spot the cookie.

    And best of all - in the spirit of the forum I run ( UMSF ) - I thought it right to lead by example and chuck all the JPG's online as quickly as I could... James Canvin, MER / Phoenix amateur imaging genius - came thru both times with some stunning results at http://nivnac.co.uk/ which take the great images and make them even better!

    If you like this sort of thing - there's probably someone, not too far from you, thinking of doing it as well. Try it - you might just get high.

    Doug
     

    Attached Files:

  2. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    Location:
    51st State of America
    #2
    It is cool, but how much to send your camera into the stratosphere?

    I also couldn't find a 'cookie'.
     
  3. djellison thread starter macrumors 68020

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    Pasadena CA
    #3
    Actually - it doesn't cost that much. The whole thing (ignoring ground equipment) is < a couple of hundred bucks. If you get the paylod back the only expense is the balloon and the helium. In the UK - they'd set you back about £25 each.

    Look carefully - on the horizon.
     
  4. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #4
    Sounds a lot of fun but I wouldn't fancy taking my camera up so high without me. I think I'll just wait to see if I won that competition i entered where I win a flight in a fighter jet and be done with that (taking pictures inside the cockpit)! :)
     
  5. djellison thread starter macrumors 68020

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    Pasadena CA
    #5
    Yeah - there is a temptation to try and find a cheap 300D and send it up, but cash, and the weight budget ( HAPS1 was 850g all up, Nova 8 was about 1.2 kg ) rules that out. Hence why it's just a Powershot A560 -about £70 from Argos here in the UK.

    Doug
     
  6. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #6
    Of course, I had read that but didn't twig, i was thinking there would be no way I'd take my SLR up. (UK as well)
     
  7. onomatopoeia macrumors 6502

    onomatopoeia

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    Dec 9, 2007
  8. djellison thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
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    Pasadena CA
    #8
    I'll spoil the cookie. Look carefully - just above the horizon in the middle. See a little white smudge? That's the moon. During the duration of that flight ( about 2.5 hrs ) we can see it set, and while hard to make out at such a low res, it's distorted a little by the refraction of the air :)

    CrackedButter - if you're near Cambridge, you'll have to come along and see the next launch - drop me a PM

    Cheers

    Doug
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #9
    That is an awesome achievement. I'm amazed by the photos. :)
     
  10. Lau Guest

    #10
    Pretty incredible stuff, Doug. Those ascent videos are amazing too. <wants to go up in a balloon herself> ;)

    Whereabouts near Cambridge are you?
     
  11. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

    Joined:
    May 28, 2002
    Location:
    downtown
    #11
    This is a very interesting and well executed project... your photos are amazing.

    The one question I have is about launching a balloon into space and how/where you get clearance to do it. Do you have to or is someone filing a flight plan for the balloon? What would happen, in the very, very small chance... that a plane happened to hit the balloon? Did you guys talk about this or plan for it in some way?
     
  12. djellison thread starter macrumors 68020

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    Feb 2, 2007
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    Pasadena CA
    #12
    Very common question.

    We get CAA authority via a temporary NOTAM at the nearest Airfield. Once it's up and away - it actually spends very little time in the same place as airliners....but consider two things

    The met office launch dozens a day and have, to my knowledge, never had a strike.
    Ducks and Geese don't phone ahead and the payload is smaller and less dense that they are.

    http://wiki.ukhas.org.uk/general:restrictions_legality
    and http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=503 have the details

    And I'm based in Leicester - James is in Suffolk / London and the CU Spaceflight guys are scattered in and around Cambridge.
     
  13. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #13
    Joseph Kittinger would have been proud of you.
    :)
     
  14. seenew macrumors 68000

    seenew

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  15. cuddy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2009
    #15
    Hi There,
    I am amazed at High Altitude Balloons!!
    I am going to try and send my own up in the summer some time!
    I have been searching around for a gps receiver which will transmit location back to earth using radio.
    I haven't been that successful finding something less than around £500 !!
    Which one did you use??
    Also which latex balloon did you use? / Where did you get it from??

    Many Thanks
    Your help would greatly aid me
     
  16. Jamesl94 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    #16
    Hey! I am in Leicester aswell.

    Would love to see one of these go!

    Do you know when you are doing the next one, so I could come and watch, it that's ok?


    James
     
  17. Little HZ macrumors regular

    Little HZ

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    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    New Mexico
    #17
    Amazing! (Some of the ascent video almost made me feel dizzy! :p)
     
  18. Brien macrumors 68020

    Brien

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    Aug 11, 2008
  19. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

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    Texas
  20. Jennyannedore macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2014
    #20
    Hey there I'd like to share my YouTube clip of my high altitude project Iaunch put together for ZOO Magazine- with David Akerman, please enjoy and share :)
    Jenny
    http://youtu.be/o_U57ow-NHs
     
  21. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    Behind the Lens, UK
    #21
    Careful with that. I know someone who dropped his D300 inside a fighter. Despite the (considerable) damage to the camera, I think the canopy was toast too. Now that is some expensive glass!
     
  22. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    downtown

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