DIY High Altitude Balloon- Progress

Well the DIY space program is indeed coming along.  There are so many things to build/engineer that I fear I may indeed run out of time before the scheduled launch day.  This isn’t really a problem as we can just delay until all systems are go- but it could be a disappointment.

Recently I tested some hand warmers for the payload heating with great success.  I don’t think I should have any trouble protecting the electronics from the -60 Celsius outside out capsule.

Hand warmer infrared review

GPS tracking is proving to be a real pain.  I purchased the Spot-Trace unit as well as I have an Android cell phone for backup text messaging.  Neither is currently working as desired and much more testing will be required before I can draw any final conclusions.

Dear Spot GPS- I wish you were open-source so I could effectively troubleshoot you 🙂


On a plus note- the Arduino data logger is working flawlessly and all the other systems are slowly coming together.  this will truly be a fun project.

Live tracking has been enabled and tested- the tab on this site will go live shortly before the launch.  Anyone will be able to track the Aurora-1 from anywhere in the world.  We will try to send out Twitter updates as well with the cell phone GPS coordinates.  between the two- we should be able to give live updates for the balloon throughout most of its mission to near-space from Goderich Ontario.

Truly exciting!

The history of “Hacking” for me

I look back at my life and some of the most fond learning experiences I can recollect are of exploring a new hardware or software that I did not yet understand.  To me, this is the foundation for knowledge building and “hacking” as I know it.

In Grade 9 as a high school student I was fortunate enough to have an electronics teacher with a very “loose” curriculum.  Very few “rules” were enforced and students were encouraged to explore, build and learn with any equipment we had available to us (most donated junk but we actually built some very capable PCs for the time (monochrome monitors and MS DOS haha)

I learned more from the after hours meetings and “borrowing” those PC parts than I could have ever imagined.  Skills we developed would be the foundation for our careers and mindsets for many years to come.

One caveat- unfortunately not all areas of the education system shared this open attitude and several of us found ourselves “banned” from the library and all other school owned PC’s, phones and equipment for simply attempting to discover how this “network” thingy worked 🙂

Long story short- The inquisitive nature we seemingly all share as makers, hobbyists, hackers and inventors drives us all to do amazing things.  Most of which- we won’t fully realize until many years later.

Here is a documentary which I always though summed up the “spirit” of true hacking and exploration.