October 22, 2009

The camera arrived today, huzzah! It’s a Canon A470 that I picked up on eBay, used, for $50 (including shipping). This is a bit more than was listed for hardware costs at Project Icarus, but I got the i290 for less than they did, so it should all even out, I think. What I didn’t get with the camera was an 8GB SD card; it came with a 2GB one, which was unexpected, but still much too small for this project. I found an 8GB one on eBay for $16 or so, and I’m waiting on that to come in, but the one it came with will at least allow me to play with CHDK while I wait. The camera itself is in good shape, there’s a few scuffs on the body, and the LCD display has a couple of scratches on it, but minor cosmetic issues aside, it seems to be in excellent condition.

It’s nice to finally have something physically in my hands; for a while I questioned if I would actually commit myself to doing this. It seems now the answer is “Yes”, and I’m fairly pleased with that.

I also was able to get a response from Kaymont. I originally used the form on their website to request more information, and nobody responded to me. However I tried again with the “Email” link at the bottom of the site, and got a response the next day. They want $35 for a 500 gram balloon, which may be what I end up going with. Their minimum order is 2 balloons, and I’m not sure what shipping costs will be, but I’m perfectly happy with the price so far, and if things are successful, the second balloon will probably see some use as well! My only concern, price-wise, at the moment, is the helium. I can’t find any places near me (in Chicago), that will take a large upfront refundable deposit on the tank rental and then charge you a low price for the helium; most seem to combine tank rental and helium into one higher cost which will be hard on the budget. I’m still looking though.

Now, enough of this, I’m off to poke at the camera!

  1. I’m outside Chicago and doing this project as well. So far I’ve collected the phone, boostmobile phone plan, parachute, camera, duracell charger and cooler. I bought two duracell chargers if you want to give me cost for it. I need the balloon and helium. Thanks for the info on the balloon. I wish they had a forum, email me if you want: skreyer #a.t# gmail ,c0m

  2. I’m dealing with the helium price tag as well. I’ve purchased the el-cheap-o Balloon Time canisters at Wal*Mart, but they literally only filled up two 60-gram balloons. I’m trying out a 200 gram balloon for my first payload, and I bought two so if I need it I’ll have 400 grams of “balloonage” :-). This weekend, I tried and suceeded in making my own hydrogen! It’s not that difficult to make, but certain precautions must be taken. There are several benefits to hydrogen vs. helium…for one, it has more lift capability than helium…also, it is far cheaper to obtain. I have been successful with making it on a small scale and filling smaller balloons, however, when trying to fill a 36″ weather balloon it was impossible to both use the ice-water bath (to keep the heat from the reaction from getting out of hand), and keep things from getting too slippery to seal off the balloon. I’d get the balloon halfway filled up, and then my hands would slip and half the air would go out…at some point, the sodium hydroxide would also start eating away at the latex, so I need to set up a kind of apparatus to keep them separate…I think I’ve figured it out and will let everyone know. Also, be sure to stay away from ALL sources of flame and spark (no smoking, lol) and do this OUTSIDE. Failure to be extremely careful will likely result in injury or potential death….anyway as I get this figured out, I’ll tell everyone how I did it. With a nearly unlimited & cheap form of hydrogen, we should be able to build some really nice unmanned balloons.

  3. woops; I meant it only filled up two 30 gram balloons, for a total of 60 grams.

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