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A high altitude ballon project: EOS1

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I just found out that my high altitude balloon project could give much inspiration in this forum, so i have decided to share it here. I was thinking whether it was relevant or not, but i soon found out it certainly is. It is radio controlled, its goal was to take aerial photographies, it transmits telemetry, it transmits live video in FPV, and it flies. :) I hope it is ok to post it here.

Ok, to the project:

The primary goal with this project was to send a payload carrying a camera to an altitude where the horizon fades from blue to black, i was hoping to archieve up to 100 000 feet. The secondary goal was to find the payload in good condition and recover the pictures on the memory card.

The project was finished in the beginning of April this year, and the payload was sent up to the Edge Of Space (EOS) 15/4/2007 (since most readers in this thread is american; 4/15/2007).

Here is a few pictures of the finished payload

Here is a list of the components used:

- Opentracker OT1x; APRS-encoder

- Stripped Haicom HI-204III SiRFStarIII GPS

- BlackWidow 600mW video transmitter

- Olympus ยต[mju:] 400; the primary camera

- Siemens S55 cell-phone

- 3700mAh 7.4V lithium polymer battery-pack

- Pioneer ND-BC1; the secondary camera (wide angle lens)

- 1200g Totex balloon and a parachute

- Waypoint W-084; this R/C-servo will release the parachute after 2 hours

- A controllerboard mainly consisting of a PIC16F628A microcontroller which:

- Trigger the camera-shutter

- Toggles between the secondary and primary camera

- Power off the video-transmitter when it has reached ground to save power

- Power on a 120dB siren when it starts to fall

- Regulate 5V for all the 5V components

- Controls the servo for the parachute

The project was a very big success. I archieved a range of over 80 kilometers with the 600mW transmitter, and the payload was found in perfect condition after being at over 90000 feet. Check out pictures and video here:


Pictures from the launch-site

Some of the components

The pictures taken with the primary camera

Comparison of the pictures from EOS1 and Google Earth

See my information page about EOS1 - in norwegian

Hope you like it!

A new project, EOS2, is already started. It is far more advanced, and every component can be controlled from the ground. The camera can be tilted and it will transmit a lot more telemetry (temperature inside and outside, voltage, humidity, altitude, position, and so on). I will make much more of the electronics from scratch, and it will countain a cross-band repeater for the 2m/70cm ham-radio band.

Edited by jonpet55
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Thank you for your reply. The camera has a 4 mpix resolution, and the pictures are shrinked very much. The main problem isn't resolution, but pictures of the horizon at this altitude is heavily blurred by the atmosphere, especially because the weather was hot and moist when the payload was launched. I also had problems with dew on the plexiglass which the camera took pictures through, mainly because of the huge difference in temperature inside and outside the payload (-70 degrees celsius outside and 20 degrees celsius inside). If the camera had a more sensitive CCD, it would certainly help too, because the motion blur on multiple pictures is caused by long shutter time.

Edited by jonpet55
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Thanks a lot for sharing your project! It's amazing!

I find it very inspiring and the pictures are really breathtaking.

Just an idea regarding the moisture: is the moisture on the outside or the inside of the plexiglas? If inside (as I suppose), could it be helpful to put some small packets of demoisturizer (the little bags you find it in packings of electronic devices) into the payload, in order to reduce humidity?

Just an idea, don't know if it works under these extreme conditions.

Edited by Hartwig
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Thank you for your response!

Hartwig: The dew will appear on the inside of the plexiglass, and i thought about using a demoisturizer. The problem is that some of the components generate a lot of heat, and without moisture there is nothing to carry the heat away. That would of course cause the components to overheat, but other components with low power consumption would also be too cold; i use standard rated components which is unable to operate under 0 degrees celsius.

Edited by jonpet55
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  • 4 months later...

My server is currently down (has been like that for about half a year), but I will get it up and running in a few weeks (moving home again after some studies). The link posted by Mr.RC-Cam should be used in the meanwhile.

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That is a really cool project ! I still think its a miracle that you ever found you box !!!

Someone proposed doing something like this with a sailplane once. Ballon it up to 100,000 feet, drop it, and fly it down with video :D Not that I have the time to do this, but It would be a lot of fun.


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Thank you! Hehe, yes. I was expecting more problems than I actually got. The hour between LOS (video transmitter got out of range), and AOS (the cell phone was low enough to connect to a base-station), made me extremely nervous... :P The descent was calculated to take about half an hour, but because the ropes got messed up (you can see a rope hanging down on the side of EOS1, that was not supposed to happen), the release mechanism of the balloon had no effect, so EOS1 continued to gain altitude until the balloon exploded. Therefore I had to wait much longer for AOS. But, when the cell phone finally replied, everything was working perfectly. It was a few hundred feets over the ground, and when it finally landed, I noted the coordinates, and sent them to a friend of mine. He wrote them in as a waypoint on a traditional Garmin GPS. After driving for allmost two hours, he could hear (the siren) and see the payload straight out of the window of his car - it landed in the center of a field next to the road! It couldn't be easier!

Edit: The glider idea has been on my mind many times. I was mostly thinking about making a UAV that could automatically land on the launch-point (as others have done before).

Edited by jonpet55
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  • 4 months later...

Man that was awesome!! Amazing shots and project. Really like the idea of a glider, would it not be possible to use intelligents OSD with bob and have way point set for home, put a timer on the motor and servos etc to power up either at height or time or release, but have gps and osd on the whole time, glider is dropped from balloon at some point and hope the plane comes home?

Would be amazing. Good idea on the cell phone and locater idea.


Edited by headhunter23
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