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Old 09-19-2009, 01:09 PM   #1
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Interesting NASA on a shoestring budget

The $150 Edge-of-Space Camera: MIT Students Beat NASA On Beer-Money Budget | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

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Meet the $150 (almost to) Space Camera.

Bespoke is old hat. Off-the-shelf is in. Even Google runs the world’s biggest and scariest server farms on computers home-made from commodity parts. DIY is cheaper and often better, as Justin Lee and Oliver Yeh found out when they decided to send a camera into space.

The two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.

Of course, all this would be pointless if the guys couldn’t find the rig when it landed, so they dropped a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone inside the box for tracking. Total cost, including duct tape? $148.
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Old 09-19-2009, 01:25 PM   #2
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Students= Free Labor
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Old 09-19-2009, 01:44 PM   #3
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Students= Free Labor
Intrinsic human desire to create >> Wages

Man acts to remove obstacles to his happiness. In some cases, that is to earn a wage. In other cases, it might be directly attacking a problem, like fixing a leaky tap, or cooking a meal.

The difference between someone drawing a wage, and someone paying with their own labor, is that the latter will find the most economical way to accomplish their goal. The former, has no stake in the costs, and so has less interest in controlling waste and in some cases, less incentive to actually accomplish the goal. Rather, a wage earner is "paid by the hour" which can be a disincentive to completion.
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Old 09-19-2009, 01:50 PM   #4
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Intrinsic human desire to create >> Wages
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:02 PM   #5
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Definitely an interesting project. Apparently they are going to realize the instructions on how to do it, if they haven't already. Kind of makes me want to try it myself.
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:28 PM   #6
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this thread was going to be fun until it took a step in the pretentious philosophical direction. students are free labor, that can't really be denied.
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