Solar Eclipse High Altitude Balloon, part 1

During the 2017 solar eclipse, some friends and I at Solid State Depot decided to launch a weather balloon and record the eclipse from the stratosphere. Jumping to the punchline: it was a success! We tracked and recovered the payload, and captured the eclipse on video with both a 360 degree camera and a vertically oriented camera (sorry).

Why?

Several years ago, some coworkers at Yelp launched and tracked a weather balloon. After seeing their footage and work, I was interested in trying it myself. To that end, a few years ago, I had bought a tracker that broadcasts its global coordinates over ham radio frequencies. I had recently got my ham radio license, and was programming it with my call sign, when I realized that the eclipse was next month. What better way is there than to see it then from the air?

Looking online, I found another person who recorded an eclipse from a weather balloon, so this wasn’t uncharted territory, but I wanted to try it myself. Plus, I wanted to use a 360 degree camera to get a unique view.

I figured I would put my thoughts out there for anyone looking to launch their own balloon. Although we did recover the balloon and footage, there were a lot of things that went wrong. If I ever launch another balloon, I’ll know what to avoid, and hopefully you will too.

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