Up There

A nice little piece in The New York Times a few days ago: “Tweaking a Camera to Suit a Hobby.” The hobby in question is launching balloons with point-and-shoot cameras attached and, as far as I can tell, letting them go where they will go. The folks featured in the article, who go by the handle North Iowa Experimental High-Altitude Ballooning (NIXHAB), use balloons that have reached heights around 100,000 feet. That’s far enough up there to give the impression you’re on the edge of space. (My first question: Do these guys need to file flight plans or consult with the FAA?).

The Times story focuses on the software hacks that allow the balloonists and other hobbyists to set up Canon point-and-shoot cameras to record their images. Here’s one from the NIXHAB site (also used in the Times piece):

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2 Responses to Up There

  1. jb

    I like that….how much would it cost to do that? Be fun to try.

  2. Dan

    Well, I’ve got a Canon camera I found that could be modified. So that part would be free. I see online that you can get a weather balloon for 50 bucks or less, depending on the size. It would take some time and study to modify the camera and develop a viable payload platform of some kind (I’m wondering about cushioning the payload and whether you have to take any special measures to keep the camera heated during the flight, because it’s chilly at 90,000 feet). Helium — you’d need helium. Plus gas to drive to and from the launch site. Maybe some cash set aside for a lawyer in case air-traffic control gets upset or your descending package plunges into someeone’s den or causes an accident on the interstate.
    I don’t know — I’ve heard of much more expensive hobbies.

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