My friend Marc and I started doing research on what it would take to send a balloon to 'near space'. We've been inspired by a few others, most recently the father-son team from the UK that sent an iPhone up to 100,000 feet. We think we can build this for under $200, probably less.
Things we know:
The first launch will be to test the concepts and recovery mechanism. We have planned to use the instamapper service in combination with a t-mobile phone for ground tracking. We have a camera that would do the trick for the image capturing, using CHDK. Our friend has donated a cryogenic styrofoam box that should help with insulation and we can use hot-packs to keep it warm in there. Need some sort of LED light to help us in recovery after dusk.
We're also considering building a small data tracking device, for recording temperature, light and pressure. Maybe some other environmentals, not sure. Probably arduino powered, since that seems pretty easy and cheap.
Questions we have right now:
Would love to see some comments by fellow space nerds.