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September 2012

Tethered helium balloons carry a small video camera

 

This tethered balloon project was inspired by the book GEEK DAD by Ken Denmead.

In the fall of 2012 I volunteered to help Asheville, North Carolina middle school science and math teacher Tom Robertson and his students launch a weather balloon to near space.

This project was connected to TEDx Asheville 2012 (www.tedxasheville.com) where the theme was "the EDGE".   The conference explored all things relating to "the EDGE" including near space.

This tethered balloon project was done on the first meeting with the students (an elective class).  The goal was to get everyone excited about sending video cameras up high and retrieving them to watch the recordings.

The big helium balloon was purchased at a local party supply store for $8.  I thought one balloon would be able to easily lift my little point and shoot camera but, as you'll see from the video, one balloon struggled.

Later that same day I went back to the party store and purchased a second ballon and launched the camera again at a school picnic and had better results.

I plan to do this again with 4 large balloons and I'll work on a system to stabilize the camera (it did a lot of spinning).  With 4 large balloons it will be easy to send the camera hundreds of feet up (quickly).

Stay tuned for video of the near space balloon launch!