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Near Space Photography Under $150
September 15, 2009 9:20 PM   Subscribe

With the integration of cameras, GPS receivers, and more into cellphones, many people take for granted the lightweight, energy efficient technology in their pockets. MIT ties all that tech together to a weather balloon in Project Icarus, where for $150 a prepaid cellphone becomes a high-altitude near-space camera.
posted by mccarty.tim (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat project, but the camera wasn't the built-in phone cam. Look at the project page. They used the GPS module from the phone but a hacked Powershot for the photos.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:28 PM on September 15, 2009


They also spent a lot more than $150. And, previously.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:30 PM on September 15, 2009


Sorry, MIT, but some Spanish highschoolers did it first (and for less money).
posted by Skeptic at 12:56 AM on September 16, 2009


I love these cheap over Earth photos. Optimistic about the next generation of cheap to space engineers.
posted by edmo at 1:37 AM on September 16, 2009


Neat!

On the other hand, when am I going to get a cellphone and a network THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO MAKE FUCKING PHONE CALLS CLEARLY AND RELIABLY?
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:28 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


They also spent a lot more than $150.

What leads you to that conclusion? They claim that all of their components "(including camera, GPS tracking, weather balloon, and helium) were purchased for less than a grand total of $150."

They also admit that they got a little lucky in being able to recover the thing after it landed. You could probably do a better job of predicting the landing site by looking at soundings and forecasts for winds aloft.
posted by exogenous at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2009


On the other hand, when am I going to get a cellphone and a network THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO MAKE FUCKING PHONE CALLS CLEARLY AND RELIABLY?

Can you hold my phone? I've got to answer the camera. *sigh*
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:23 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's more photos from the Mexican high schoolers did something similar.
posted by bigmusic at 6:43 AM on September 16, 2009


i keep thinking that this would be an awesome project to do. Since I live within view of the Atlantic, though, I would probably need to launch it far to the west. :)
posted by rmd1023 at 7:25 AM on September 16, 2009


I don't think it would be much extra work to make the package float, highly visible, and reasonably waterproof. With access to a motorboat it would probably be easy to recover, compared with trying to recover in the woods or an urban area.
posted by exogenous at 7:36 AM on September 16, 2009


Sorry, MIT, but some Spanish highschoolers did it first (and for less money).
posted by Skeptic


Nope.
According to the article you linked, the Spaniards spent $163.00 on just the balloon and the camera. There's no mention of how much they spent for tracking hardware. This is quite an accomplishment.
posted by Floydd at 8:29 AM on September 16, 2009


I can already see my conversation with my neighbors;

"No, it's like Project Icarus, I know it might seem weird that I had a balloon floating next to your bedroom window with a camera and cellphone attached to it, but I'm telling you, this is for science! Space science!"

I'm certain that, this time, I'll finally pull it off...
posted by quin at 9:31 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the factual errors, guys. I just liked the spirit of the hack, which implied that you could use products from a big box store that cost less than a new game system to do the kind of projects that only governments and weather stations could do a few years ago.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:33 AM on September 16, 2009


Argh, edit button. I meant to say "decades ago."
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:33 AM on September 16, 2009


They also spent a lot more than $150.

What leads you to that conclusion?


I misread the $1350 Spanish project on that one. Carry on.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2009


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