$723 pledged of $2,000 goal
backers
By Aaron Savka
$723 pledged of $2,000 goal
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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:

Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

7fa49c390dd13481e89553aeae881634 original

Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

About this project

Total solar eclipses are rare.  The last one to occur in the continental United States was in 1979 and was visible to only the Pacific Northwest.  The 2017 eclipse will travel across 10 states.  The point of longest duration and the intersection of the 2017 and 2024 eclipses is only a few miles from our anticipated launch site giving us a unique opportunity to capture the full duration of the 2017 eclipse and again in 2024.

As the project progresses, it is becoming increasingly more costly to meet the challenge of capturing photos and video of the eclipse from an uncontrolled balloon flight. To help offset some of the cost, we are reaching out to backers for support.  

This flight is unique from past flights.  The challenge is developing a payload of still and video cameras that will give us the highest chance of capturing the complete eclipse from any angle given that we will have no ability to steer the payload.  To achieve the best chance of obtaining outstanding photos and video, a host of new equipment is being assembled for the payload.  

New equipment includes:

  • Six 12 megapixel still cameras, each taking bracketed photos every 30 seconds for the duration of the flight.
  • Six 8 megapixel video cameras multiplexed to a Raspberry Pi will record and stream live video to the ground station via Amateur TV frequencies.
  • Telemetry package that will transmit position data in real time to the ground station via 900mHz radios. This positioning data will be used to automate the position of the ground antennas for capturing video and telemetry from the payload.
  • Automatic Antenna Tracker that will keep directional ground antennas pointed at the payload during flight.
  • Doongara tandem balloon rig to allow payload to float at a relatively stable altitude to be in the best position to capture eclipse.

The standard equipment includes:

  • APRS tracker capable of tracking position in real time.
  • Radio beacon to assist in locating payload should other tracking means fail.
  • SPOT Messenger - Redundant GPS tracker as a backup for locating payload.
  • 1200 gram latex weather balloon
  • 8' recovery parachute 
  • Hydrogen lifting gas
  • Custom built payload box

Additional equipment should we have space and funds to include in payload:

  • Arduino or Raspberry Pi outfitted with temperature and solar radiation sensors to monitor the internal temperature of the payload as well as ambient outside temperature and amount of solar radiation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Risks and challenges

While success can not be guaranteed, we've had 100% success in past flights to well over 90,000'. This project poses unique challenges as there is only one opportunity to capture the event. There are several inherent risks, but planning and experience will help to mitigate them as much as can be expected.

1. Weather will be a factor. There is a small window of opportunity to launch the balloon to reach the desired altitude to coincide with the eclipse.
2. Hardware failure is a potential problem that could result in failure to obtain photos & video, or even total loss of payload.

We have redundant systems wherever possible to mitigate risks but unfortunately, can not guarantee success.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Shout Out

    Thank you! Every contribution helps. Your name will be listed as a supporter on Facebook page.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Pretty Picture

    $25 gets you a digital photo of the eclipse. After the flight, we'll pick the best photo and deliver it via email.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Ground Crew

    Be part of the team and receive a limited edition Shadow Chasers T-Shirt.

    Includes:
    • Single Digital Photo
    • Shadow Chasers Limited Edition T-Shirt
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Moving Pictures

    Video footage from the flight edited down to the best parts.

    Includes:
    • Single Digital Photo
    • Shadow Chasers Limited Edition T-Shirt
    • Video from flight
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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Hitch a Ride

    It's going to be tight, but there will be limited space for a unique opportunity to fly a small trinket or keepsake in the payload. Not only will it touch the stratosphere, it will do so during the first North American total solar eclipse in 38 years. Anything (non-hazardous) that will fit in a standard plastic egg can be included in the payload.

    Includes:
    • Single Digital Photo
    • Shadow Chasers Limited Edition T-Shirt
    • Video from flight
    • Reserved spot in payload for small item (must fit in plastic egg)
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Kitchen Sink

    Access to everything we have plus a little bonus.

    Includes:
    • Video from flight
    • Digital Photo Files
    • Shadow Chasers Limited Edition T-Shirt
    • Reserved spot in payload for small item (must fit in plastic egg)
    • 9" x 12" gallery wrapped canvas print of eclipse
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Funding period

- (30 days)