Dangerous but fun

Near Space Balloon Launch

In the fall of 2012 I helped a group of middle school students send a GoPRO HD video camera to "near space".  What follows are the details of the project.

Here is the 3 minute video showing the highlights of the launch and recovery:

Asheville, NC Tedx Near Space Project from Peter Lutz on Vimeo.



Project Facts:

  • 1200 gram latex weather balloon was filled with 150 cubic feet of helium -- weather balloon was approximately 6 feet in diameter at lift off.
  • Payload was an off-the-shelf styrofoam cooler that was modified for this project.
  • Payload weighed 4 pounds.
  • Payload contents included: GoPRO Hero 2 HD video camera with a 32 GB memory card and extra battery pack, SPOT gps unit, PocketFinder gps unit, personal items from each student
  • Launched on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 9:20 am EST
  • Launching location:  Francine Delany New School for Children Charter School (www.fdnsc.net) in Asheville, NC
  • This project was a collaboration between the school and TEDx Asheville 2012.

more coming...

Trebuchet -- human powered, portable, water balloon launching

Cover of PortaTreb ebook
Complete and detailed build-it-yourself plans are now available for immediate download on the Amazon Kindle platform. Only $9.99 US 



I call it the "PortaTreb" (Portable Trebuchet). It's a portable human powered trebuchet that can launch softball size water balloons up to 50 yards and other objects (like softballs and apples) much further.

In my 88 page e-book (Amazon Kindle) you'll find detailed step-by-step plans for building a PortaTreb. I provide a list of materials (your shopping list), tools needed, procedures for measuring and cutting, how to make a throwing pouch that works, how to make an "anti slam pad" that will help prevent the throwing arm from cracking and last ten times longer, how to make an "anti headache rope" that will help prevent you from being hit in the head by the throwing arm, and more! I've even included plans for a fold up plywood castle that you can use as a target. The PortaTreb is designed to fold up and transport on your car roof racks and conveniently store in your garage.

I'm a former high school STEM education teacher and have used the PortaTreb at schools to help bring history lessons and science lessons to life. I've used the PortaTreb at Maker Faires and Music Festivals where a wide range of kids have enjoyed launching water balloons long distances.




Full Contact Pinata

My kids LOVE pinatas.  I developed "Full Contact Pinata" in an effort to ramp up the fun and give the pinata a chance to fight back.

Fill a pinata with oranges and apples and then reinforce with clear packaging tape.  Build a device to help get the pinata moving fast and then insert gladiator.

This video clip is from one of my birthday parties.

How to dramatically enter a conference

I was hired by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to design and deliver a 3-day leadership development program for 120 employees from across the state.  I wanted to start the conference off in a memorable way - - no boring stuff here!

Floating Arm Trebuchet I built with my son

In November 2006 I traveled with my son to watch the World Champion Punkin Chunkin Contest in Delaware.  It was a truly awesome event and someday I'd like to compete.

In December 2006 my father in-law gave me a Floating Arm Trebuchet kit that my son and I built together.  The video clip below shows the trebuchet in action.  It will launch a golf ball 100 yards with just 10 pounds of counter weight!