Lifebeam Technology Club sends up a weather balloon

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a balloon?

Lifebeam Technology Club president Dominick Lee, along with two other members of the club, Andrey Zherebnenko and Andy Tang, launched an eight-foot weather balloon in Castro Valley on the afternoon of April 3.

Inspired by a commercial he saw on television and his love for physics, Lee designed the balloon so that it would hold two essential HD camcorders, a GPS tracking unit, and a mini on-board computer called an Arduino, which tracked the balloon’s descent at approximately 10,000 feet within 11 minutes of the launch.

“Our GPS unit tracked the exact coordinates of our balloon’s longitude, latitude, altitude, and speed,” said Lee. “We used this data to find our popped balloon, and also used it to analyze the height as corresponding to what we recorded in our two camcorders.”

The videos, which were recorded from the camcorders during the balloon’s journey, will be distributed to the people who helped donate to this $250 project and possibly be published on the club’s website: http://www.lifebeam.net/.

Determined and ambitious, Lee accomplished this big project in two months with the help of teachers Chris Burns and Bertram Pinsky.

“I wanted to take my skill to the highest potential,” said Lee.

Overall, the weather balloon experiment was a success and a great experience for all who participated. The balloon, which had a good drop-control, traveled approximately five miles and landed from Castro Valley Community Park to Glenwood Road.

“Our project met all the expectations. We had exactly enough helium, there was no rain or wind, and the balloon was not too far off,” said Lee.

Throughout the whole experiment and rigorous planning, Lee wants everyone to see that physics is anything but boring.

“I want to motivate and educate students about the fun of physics and the innovation of technology,” Lee said.

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