Friday, August 27, 2010

GoPro in Near Space

Check out this amazing video shot earlier this summer with 2 GoPro Hero video cameras tethered to a balloon.

Near Space Balloon Flight, shot with HD HERO cameras from GoPro from Kevin Macko on Vimeo.

"We are a group of engineers/designers from San Francisco. This was our second balloon launch on 6/5/2010. Shot with 2 HD Hero cameras from GoPro. Launched from the California coast near Davenport, landed in Crows Landing 70 miles away. Peak altitude 80,000 feet. Acquired GPS, pressure, accelerometer, and temperature data with a Shadowbox ( The payload was tracked with a SPOT satellite personal tracker."

A few excerpts from Kevin Macko, one of the engineers, answering viewers questions:

Technically for payloads under 4 lbs there are no FAA restrictions, but we made sure to stay out of SFO and SJC airspace. We also put the radar reflecting material on the capsule and called the FAA to let them know what we were doing

Yes, we did notify the FAA and made sure to stay out of the takeoff/approach airspace of the surrounding airports.

The peak speed on the way down was about 50 miles per hour. This was high up where the atmosphere was thin and the parachute was not as effective. At the bottom it slowed to about 30 miles per hour.

The brunt of the impact was absorbed by the styrofoam container. We actually didn't even see any cracks in the styrofoam, so the parachute must have slowed it down a good bit. It's hard to say how the camera would hold up if it impacted water - probably depends on how fast you're going when you hit.

We did check the wind patterns ahead of time and it landed within ~10 miles of where we predicted. We definitely didn't want it landing in water or the mountains, and we got lucky that it landed so close to a road on a farm without a fence!

We drove to where we predicted it would land. Ordinarily we would have had real time tracking, but unfortunately we got interference from the other electronics on board and didn't get a tracking signal until 6 hours after launch. We were very excited to finally hear from it!

Yes, we can definitely go higher by using a bigger balloon and inflating it with less helium. The GPS tracker may not work above a certain altitude, but we could certainly track it again once the balloon pops and it descends to a working altitude. I think a goal for our future flights is to get above 100,000 feet.

Btw, Camera West now carries the GoPro. Come check it out. 

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