[Greg Intermaggio] and [Shumit DasGupta] at Techsplosion launched a high altitude balloon last week that climbed to 90,000 feet above sea level somewhere over California. The play-by-play of the flight is one of the better stories we’ve seen on high altitude balloon builds.
The balloon, christened VGER-1, carried a SPOT satellite GPS messanger to send telemetry back to the ground. We’ve seen a few home brew balloon tracking devices, but [Greg] decided to use an off-the-shelf solution for the sake of simplicity. Like other balloons the VGER-1 carried a CanonPowershot camera with CHDK firmware.
The ground track of the balloon shows it being launched west of the San Francisco bay, going above the 60,000 foot limit of commercial GPS units about 15 miles South of Sacramento, and eventually landing just off Interstate 80 a few miles from Lake Tahoe. It’s great that the guys found an easy commercial solution to the tracking problem (that doesn’t risk a smart phone), but if we did this, we’d predict the balloon’s trajectory before launch.
[Greg] put up an album of some of the best pictures taken by his balloon. If you’re in the Bay Area this weekend, [Greg] and [Shumit] will be organizing a group launch of high-altitude balloons. Seems like a really great way to spend a Saturday if you ask us.