Nineteen-year-old University of Nottingham student Adam Cudworth
started his high-altitude balloon experiment (HABE) project in 2009 by buying a Canon A570 camera on eBay. The most recent iteration, HABE 5, integrated the microcontroller, a GPS unit, and a radio transmitter, all installed in an insulated, shock-resistant package. Cudworth hooked the box to a 2-m-diameter helium balloon and released it, following it by GPS up to its peak altitude of almost 21 miles, where it captured the images. When it fell to ground, he used the radio transmitter to recover the unit.
The camera brought back an impressive set of images but Cudworth isn’t ready to stop there. He’s currently working on a high-altitude rocket booster designed to push the imager to an even greater height and a glider stage to allow controlled landing.
Cudworth is currently studying economics, but in terms of initiative and talent, he has a bright future in engineering. Sure, Steve Bible and the guys who built last year's ARISSat-1 amateur satellite
take the prize for most sophisticated space DIY, but for a kid more or less operating solo, this was pretty impressive.
What’s the most interesting DIY project you’ve ever done? Where did you get the idea? What was unique about it? What were the biggest challenges and what made you most proud?