I've always wanted to build a build a High Altitude Balloon (HAB), and I decided I'm finally going to do it. I mean, how cool is it to send a camera and some tracking equipment to the edge of space?! One of my main reservations has been the how expensive it can get. A quick Google search will turn up dozens of guides on how to design and launch a HAB, but for almost all of them, the cost per launch is through the roof (pun intended). Since I'm not sponsored and don't have money, I decided to document my thought process to try to design the most cost-effective HAB (without cutting too many corners).
As with any project, it's a good idea to make a list of requirements before starting so there's a clear plan. From the beginning, the only thing I really wanted to do was to send a camera into near space for as cheap as possible. It doesn't need to be high quality or break any world records. Just a fun engineering challenge with some halfway decent footage as proof.
To be fair, since I'm trying to make it as inexpensive as possible, it will be more complicated and probably more time consuming than something that's made with more off-the shelf components. But that's why you're reading this, so you don't make the same mistakes I do. :D