HacDC Spaceblimp video from latest launch

HacDC Spaceblimp video from latest launch

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The folks at HacDC have now done four successful “spaceblimp” launches. The latest took place this past Sunday (April 10) in Maryland. They write:

We launched from Breezewood Elementary School? at 1:30 pm, the balloon popped at 2:41 pm at 103,764 ft, and touched back down at 3:09 pm. Again, we were exceptionally lucky with the recovery and were able to drive up to within 200 ft of the package.

The group has done three previous launches in the 60,000 to 75,000 altitude range. For Spaceblimp 4, they bought a really big balloon and dumped a whole tank of helium into it. In the video above, you see 80 seconds of the Big Blue Marble, up to the point of apogee, at 103K+ feet, before the balloon pops (which is pretty cool to see).

You can find out more about HacDC’s space program on the link below:

HacDC Spaceblimp Wiki

Check out MAKE Volume 24:
MAKE blasts into orbit and beyond with our DIY SPACE issue. Put your own satellite in orbit, launch a stratosphere balloon probe, and analyze galaxies for $20 with an easy spectrograph! We talk to the rocket mavericks reinventing the space industry, and renegade NASA hackers making smartphone robots and Lego satellites. This, plus a full payload of other cool DIY projects, from a helium-balloon camera that’s better than Google Earth, to an electromagnetic levitator that shoots aluminum rings, and much more.


22 thoughts on “HacDC Spaceblimp video from latest launch

  1. Peter Davenport says:

    I think that +103ft is a typo.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Yes, there’s a K in there. Fixed.

  2. Martin Jameson says:

    What would happen if the camera module hit a passing airplane on the way up or down (as unlikely as that is)? Do you have to get any sort of flight clearance?

    1. Bill Porter says:

      There’s a limit on payload weight before you require anything to do with the FCC. Just under 8 lbs I think, but my memory is screwy.

      The one rule I think many of the balloon launches break is you aren’t allowed to use a cell modem above 10k ft for telemetry. And there’s something about GPS aren’t supposed to work at some number of feet as well. But many models don’t play by the rules.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Consumer GPS equipment is supposed to shut down over 60k feet or over a certain speed to keep it from potentially being used as a missile guidance system. Some GPS chipsets shut down at 60k feet, some shut down over a particular speed, some shut down when either condition is reached, so research is required before constructing the instrument package.

    2. Anonymous says:

      HacDC does have to clear their launches with the FAA as well as run weather predictions to determine where a particular launch is likely to go. We also have to take care because we’re so close to the DC no-fly zone (as well as a few other places that random bundles of electronics really shouldn’t fall into).

  3. Promotional Pens says:

    Amazing video! It would interesting to see a photo of the complete balloon and payload. Or perhaps a video of the balloon launching.

  4. Onthe Broadway says:

    Government Technology magazine is the flagship periodical of Folsom, California -based publishing company e.Republic Incorporated . …

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish someone would slap some sort of gyro on the camera platform to keep it from spinning or at least spinning so fast.

  6. John says:

    Check the video at 1:20. What is that bright spot?

    1. Anon. says:


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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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