DIY SPACE – Make: Video Podcast

Craft & Design Technology

Make: is going to space! Have you ever wanted to go up into space? Well, you don’t have to win a golden ticket, be a millionaire, or an astronaut… you can send your own payload into space!

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We’re using weather balloons to go up to approximately 100k feet armed with 4 cameras… 20 megapixels of camera! We’ll be taking shots every 7 seconds for two hours and measuring the temperature with the Make: controller and thermistors!

It took 16 people working on this, countless cases of mountain dew, lots of take-out food, and a lot of sleepless nights, and we intend to fly Sunday!

Cloud cover, snow, and mechanical failure may postpone the launch, but we’re ready to give it our best shot this weekend.

In this Make: Video Podcast, you’ll learn all the details of how to put a weather balloon up into space! The weather balloon will make it up to about 100,000 feet. That’s almost 20 miles up and more than twice the height of being in an airplane. It’s high enough that the sky is black and you can see the curvature of the earth.

Why would we want to send a package into space? To take pictures and temperature readings of course! We’ll be using the Make: Controller to boss around 4 canon sd cameras set up to take a spectacular panoramic picture every 7 seconds! It will also have thermistors on it to measure the temperature as it goes up?

We’ll be tracking it with two different systems. The primary system is a gps module connected to a tinytrak which makes the gps data into aprs ham radio packets and then sends them out on 144.39mhz which will get picked up by our receivers and repeaters and then routed to the internet where anyone can watch on google maps and earth in real time!

Here’s an mp4 that plays on pretty much everything. Here’s a 3gp and 3g2 for people who like to watch on their phone! Of course if you subscribe in itunes, the videos and accompanying pdf get downloaded automatically for you, no muss no fuss. You can browse all the Make: videos and get embed codes at or on the weekend projects page at your leisure! – Subscribe Link

50 thoughts on “DIY SPACE – Make: Video Podcast

  1. says:

    This is the coolest thing I’ve seen you guys do, ever! Very exciting stuff and I’m really looking forward to seeing how well it performs. Now if only you can figure out how to drop and egg from the platform…

  2. Dirkus says:

    Best. Project. Yet.

    I will definitely be watching this page for updates tomorrow! I wish you guys the best of luck!

  3. Mattyfu says:

    Good luck guys!

  4. drewdegruyter says:

    So the cameras have 5 megabytes of memory each totalling 20 megabytes? or 5 megapixels totalling 20 megapixels?
    -points right below second picture-
    Great project idea.

  5. trebuchet03 says:

    Very Ambitious. I’m looking foreword to those high res. photos :)

  6. M@LC0LM says:

    I can’t wait to see this in action. This is by far the coolest thing I have seen in my life including ninjas and tacos. I am waiting to see the pictures and to track the trip on Google maps live. Thank you guys for being the best. P.S. If there is another launch is there any way to put a pseudo cockpit on the front of the payload with a lego man piloting? That would rock my socks.

  7. inboulder says:

    This sounds like a neat project, but it seems disingenuous and sensationalistic to keep repeating you’re going to ‘SPACE!1!one!’. If a balloon can be supported by the pressure of the atmosphere, do you think that really qualifies as being in ‘space’?

  8. bpendleton says:

    Awesome project guys!

    I worked on a team in college that was going to do something very similar to this. At that point (~2000) commercial GPS systems were supposedly programmed to cut off after a certain altitude. Do you know if the stuff you’re going to fly will continue to register its location once it gets high? (The numbers I remember were that at 30k-50k feet you’d stop getting GPS data).

  9. samurai1200 says:

    Very awesome. The google maps kxml file or whatever is a bit confusing to read, but i think it gets enough across. if i’m not mistaken, you guys launched a couple of hours ago.

  10. 3ricj says:

    bpendleton – We used the guide here:

    …which documents which GPS receivers work above 60k, and our model & firmware version is listed. It’s not the lightest gps around, but it will do the trick.

    samurai1200 – Try opening the kxml file in google earth. It won’t be useful until 9am PST tomorrow (sunday).

  11. justinph says:

    Excellent project. How are you triggering the cameras? Just wiring up some leads from the controller to where the button used to be on the body of the camera?

  12. ballooney says:

    From the UK High Altitude society (read: ballooners) we wish you guy the best of luck and may the jet stream be kind to you!

  13. N0QBH says:

    Can you give us the Ham callsign with SSID you’ll be using so that we can track you?

  14. Chuckumentary says:

    Bre Pettis + friends: Giving NASA a run for their money!

  15. ERFONZ says:

    Don’t you need FAA permission to launch something like that?

  16. 3ricj says:

    ERFONZ: check out the FAAInfo Page on the wiki.

  17. StealthToilet1 says:

    Hate to burst your bubble, but doesn’t space start at something like 60 miles up?

  18. Deek says:

    I did something exactly like this for an internship through the Colorado Space Grant this past summer. You can read our report

    The cameras we used were hacked Dakota Digital‘s. I can’t seem to find the final stitched photos but you can see a few in the report.

    If anyone takes time to read the report I would love to hear some feedback

    deek at

  19. cryptonoid says:

    Why use a MAKE controller for the cameras?!!! your payload is goin to be too heavy. why not just use a 555 timer instead?!!…all this can be done much cheaper, faster, better and more efficient.

    anyways, good luck

    p.s. Your not going into SPACE, stop acting like a bitch

  20. philliptorrone says:

    cryptonoid – i’m not going to remove your comment, but please keep it a little more polite here. of course we’re going to use the MAKE controller, it’s the MAKE controller! and weight wasn’t an issue (it seems). i’ve used a 555 chip for my camera projects works great, but not everyone wants to do project the way you or i would – it’s ok, it’s possible that there are other ways to do something.

  21. jalanhutto says:

    Great project, Makers! We have done a similar project at the school at which I teach. See our results at PALCS High Altitude Balloon! Your design is much more elegant than ours was and we only achieved about 30,000 feet (not quite “near-space”), but it was loads of fun and we learned a lot! Going for at least 90,000 feet this year (end of March?) with our next launch. Love your design and am envious of your resources. Best of luck! We’ll be cheering for you!

  22. content says:

    Is She still 100k feet armed with 4 cameras… 20 megapixels of camera!?
    Can She fly by Herself – no operator – Autonomously?
    Please, if so, let me know here – Leave a Comment Below.

  23. T. Martoonies says:

    LOL cryptonoid.

    btw: things that float on water are “she”s. Balloons are “it”s.

    ps. it wont be long before some tree-hugging, 9th “don’t call it a circus” circuit wielding, deluded san francisco veggie fruitcake gets a law passed outlawing this activity. damage to the stratusphere or something.

    pps.. if weight isn’t an issue then I want to ride in it. I got a good jacket and I’ll bring my welding oxygen.

  24. Winning Back An Ex Boyfriend says:

    Hi, I want to subscribe for this website to obtain latest updates,
    so where can i do it please assist.

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