adam cudworth student takes stunning snaps of space using only a 30 second hand camera and a balloon

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  • Device costing £200 launched by Worcestershire teenager Adam Cudworth
  • Spent 40 hours working on box with GPS tracker, radio & microprocessor
  • Located device after fall back to earth having reached speeds of 150mph

By Mark Duell

PUBLISHED: 05:15 EST, 9 September 2012 | UPDATED: 07:06 EST, 9 September 2012

When you think how much it costs the likes of NASA to take astonishing images like this, it’s even more impressive what a teenager can do on a £200 budget.

Adam Cudworth, 19, of Ombersley, Worcestershire, managed to capture these incredible views of the earth from space - using little more than a balloon and a second-hand £30 camera bought on eBay.

With a scientific background consisting of just a physics A-Level, Adam spent 40 hours working on a homemade box with a GPS tracker, radio and microprocessor - which he released last Thursday.

Cheap device: Adam Cudworth managed to capture these incredible views of the earth from space using little more than a balloon and a second-hand £30 camera bought on eBay

Cheap device: Adam Cudworth managed to capture these incredible views of the earth from space using little more than a balloon and a second-hand £30 camera bought on eBay

Aerial: This photo was taken as the device, which took Adam 40 hours to build, found its way up to space

Aerial: This photo was taken as the device, which took Adam 40 hours to build, found its way up to space

Spectacular: The images look like they could be the latest taken from a multi-million pound NASA satellite

Spectacular: The images look like they could be the latest taken from a multi-million pound NASA satellite

After taking two-and-a-half hours to float more than 20 miles up into the earth's stratosphere, the impressive device captured these amazing views from space.

He used a GPS tracker similar to a car's satellite-navigation unit to follow its progress and located it with a radio transmitter following its fall back to earth, having reached speeds of more than 150mph.

But the modest teenager, who is now an engineering student at the University of Nottingham, said today that the results were nothing more than 'a little project' and a ‘bit of a hobby’.

He said: ‘I just wanted to set myself a challenge - but I'm amazed at the results. I saw a guy who did a similar thing a couple of years back and I just wanted to recreate them - but better.

Modest: Adam, who is now an engineering student at the University of Nottingham, said today that the results were nothing more than 'a little project' and a 'bit of a hobby'

Modest: Adam, who is now an engineering student at the University of Nottingham, said today that the results were nothing more than 'a little project' and a 'bit of a hobby'

Technological prowess: The built-in circuit board allowed Adam to record the speed, G-force and altitude his balloon was reaching at all times

Found: Adam is pictured with his brother Ben, 12, and his balloon contraption, which climbed to three times the height of a commercial plane before it burst

Found: Adam is pictured with his brother Ben, 12, and his balloon contraption, which climbed to three times the height of a commercial plane before it burst

'I have no background in astrophysics - I'm just an engineering student. People think it’s something that costs millions of pounds but I've proved you can do it on just a £200 budget.’

'I have no background in astrophysics. People think it’s something that costs millions of pounds but I've proved you can do it on just a £200 budget'

Adam Cudworth

Adam bought a standard Canon A570 camera on eBay around 18 months ago when he first had the idea for the project.

He placed it in an insulated box along with a small video camera, two temperature sensors, two high-performance solar panels, a tracking device, microprocessor and radio.

The student then attached it to a high-altitude two metre latex balloon with a parachute - and named his contraption ‘HABE 5’.

Following the launch, he tracked the balloon as it climbed to three times the height of a commercial plane before it burst and landed in Broadway, Worcestershire - 30 miles from his home.

Amazing: This photograph snapped by Adam's device after take off shows the city of Worcester in view

Amazing: This photograph snapped by Adam's device after take off shows the city of Worcester in view

Landscape: This photo taken after take off shows the A449, River Severn and Worcester in the distance

Landscape: This photo taken after take off shows the A449, River Severn and Worcester in the distance

Soaring: Video footage taken alongside the photos shows it swirling through the clouds to dizzying heights

Soaring: Video footage taken alongside the photos shows it swirling through the clouds to dizzying heights

The built-in circuit board allowed Adam to record the speed, G-force and altitude his balloon was reaching at all times.

Video footage taken alongside the photos shows it swirling through the clouds to dizzying heights.

'I just wanted to set myself a challenge - but I'm amazed at the results. I saw a guy who did a similar thing a couple of years back and I just wanted to recreate them - but better'

Adam Cudworth

He added: ‘When I retrieved the camera I was stunned - it had captured some incredible photos and footage. The exposure settings were different to my previous two attempts.

‘I used materials which would be more robust in extreme temperatures and this led to clearer photos at altitude. The onboard video camera recorded great footage close to the ground after launch.

‘However the lens fogged up at about 3km (1.9 miles) in altitude because moisture got in - but it still looked rather impressive.

‘I'm now working on project, which will allow me to control where the box lands when it falls back to earth. But that's work in progress at the minute and I'll have to be content with this for now.’


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