Nevada Suborbital Rocket Launch

Some of our products go for a sky-ride out in the desert!

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Here at SparkFun, we have never shied away from launching our products up into the sky. From homemade rockets, to pumpkins, to high-altitude balloons, we genuinely enjoy seeing electronics we have spent hours working on flying through the air.

So naturally, when we saw this project about someone else launching some of our parts in a rocket, we had to share. This is an awesome project called the PhoneSat Rocket.

This suborbital rocket was launched out in the Nevada desert and is based around an Arduino Main Board and a couple of Nexus One cellphones. Check out the above video for a documentary of the whole launch!

Comments 26 comments

  • Cell Phones, Arduinos, come on...! At some point it would be nice if people learn to create actual embedded hardware to do things like this! Even then, there are better solutions to video and photos from a platform like this that would give far better results than some terribly simple software written on a cell phone. There are even (brace yourself) off the shelf devices at your local thrift store! With some minor hacking, and minimal effort, one could have used an older or even cheap,newer digicam to spectacular effect here! And talk about sending a fire brigade to do a fire extinguisher's Job! The cell phone should have made a call during launch and sent live audio feeds, texts, tweets or something on the way up! Of course we all have a spare $500+ smart phone to shoot off in a rocket right? In any case, it still looks like they had fun!

    • Cell phones have everything needed for a rocket in the smallest package. Weight is such a cost issue that grabbing an old digicam from the thrift store would probably cost more in fuel than you saved. Plus, new products mean there is a steady supply if the project is a success. Paying an engineer to re-code software for a variety of second hand digicams would cost more than just sticking with one platform. Not to mention that cell phones these days are incredibly complicated.
      and that if you're sending rockets into space... $500 is cheap. And it is cheap, compared to the electronics used in satellites normally - which is, amusingly, the "actual embedded hardware" that you speak of. Thats what people normally do - build a custom board for every satellite - and that costs way more than $500.

      • Not be be a wet blanket, but it does cost considerably less than $500 to do the same thing on this kind of a scale if all you want is acceleration data and video\photos! (well in this case the package they sent up was $1000 plus) I have done it in a 'D' powered model rocket myself (read: much smaller that what they had)! Your point about the satellites is taken, as I work in an industry were purpose built, high reliability electronics are par for the course! Sadly, Sparkfun neglected to mention the actual purpose of the project, which was, to test the phones themselves in this environment and see how they performed! In which case I would strongly contend that cellphones are not a replacement for purpose built electronics in a situation like this, at least, not yet!

        • It's also worth noting that for these basic ballistic straight up and back down rockets, there is an optimal mass to get the highest attitude, and quite often you end up carrying extra blast to hit that mass.
          For onboard rocket video these days, the ContourHD 1080p is a great choice and it's shape makes it very easy to mount throuh the wall of the rockets airframe.
          If you end up flying consumer electronics on a large rocket, glue/solider in all the batteries and memory cards, there is a lot of vibration even in smaller rockets that will pop things open.
          Phones have a handy use though, and that's recovery. Write a little app and get it to SMS you it's GPS location when it lands. Use SMS rather than 3G as you likely be in the middle of nowhere with poor phone signal and the rocket will be lying in the only ditch for miles, sms has a better chance of getting through.

      • Err, and by complicated, I mean capable.

  • Very Cool Rockets; agree with below - only modest electronic creds for duck tape and a cellphone. Especially for not sending back data in real time.

  • Any plans on sharing the photos, and data gathered from the launch?

  • future sparkfun estes rocket testing.
    (aurdino controlled)

  • hey sparkfun, this is great for content generation!
    did you guys put an aurdino on this mechanical monster from burning man?

  • tell sparkfun to send them a new lox valve so we dont have to wait until 2011/

  • Check out these guys: They have built all the telemetry and video-downlink systems themselves (although I don't know if they used any SparkFun parts :).

    • and they delayed the entire flight a year for a lox valve???...
      sounds fishy.

  • drex... are you drunk?
    7 posts in just over 20 minutes...
    We get it. The rocket is not suborbital.

    • that post got me a higher score.
      thats all i have to say about that.
      as for sparkfun.... if they got an BATF license and a small blockhouse or shed (lockable) behind their building to store rockets and other combustables for this kind of stuff, that would be pretty cool.

  • i love you all.

  • i just threw a roll of tape in the air... and ummmm... it

  • but yah it did look like alot of fun :)
    road trip....

  • wow whats next guys?
    lets go put a sparkfun bought 3rd party designed aurdino on a nuclear missile and post it here.
    cmon guys.
    build some boards.

  • if i launch a rocket 10 feet off the ground can i call it a suborbital?

  • looks like an estes special to me :-)
    go get your atf license, and buy some more motors.

  • Interesting, but not the news I was looking for... I missed the Boulder-Denver New Tech meeting last night, and was hoping to find a little recap of the Sparkfun part of the evening.

  • Sorry man.

    • Don't worry about it, I was just kidding ;-)
      I would just hate for people to start thinking a SparkFun project caused the fire!

  • OK, Who had the SparkFun logo up in Four Mile Canyon yesterday at 10:00 am?

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