Anyone who has called upon Geek Squad to help them out of a tech jam probably noticed the badge our Agent had clipped to his or her belt. In front. On the Agent’s left side.
What most people don’t know is there is set of principles and standards surrounding the way an Agent handles their badge. For instance, according to tradition, an Agent is required to carry their badge at all times. And Agents “may not use your badge to obtain free donuts more than once a month.”* The badge is a symbol of being a member of an elite band of technology warriors and Agents, as a group, take them very seriously.
One of the rules is an Agent should never leave their badge unattended. If a member of the Agent fraternity comes upon an unattended badge, they will confiscate it and retain it until they can return it to its rightful owner culturally-awesome and somewhat embarrassing way.
The Icarus I project is an out-growth of just such an effort...
In the fall of 2012, an Agent at our corporate headquarters – who shall remain nameless- made the mistake of leaving his badge, number 13337, unattended in his workspace. One of his colleagues, noticing this oversight, grabbed the badge. And kicked off an effort that created the project featured here.
On December 1st 2012, Geek Squad entered the space race by successfully sending that confiscated badge to near-space. After spending a month to design and build the capsule period, a team of Agents launched Icarus I on that cold December day. The capsule, with the Agent’s badge, achieved an altitude of nearly 90,000 feet and traveled 165 miles. The flight lasted approximately two hours and forty minutes, after which the capsule returned safely to Earth and was recovered by the ground crew.
The Icarus I capsule employed a modified Styrofoam bait cooler for the primary payload container. A custom-constructed aluminum mounting arm was used to secure the payload (a Geek Squad badge) to the exterior of the capsule and mount internal capsule components. Inside the capsule were two GoPro Hero cameras secured to the aluminum mount, one facing directly down toward Earth and the second facing outward toward the badge.
In addition, Icarus I contained a SPOT satellite GPS tracking unit, two custom-built electronics charging assemblies, a battery pack, hand warming packs, and miscellaneous air and newspaper packing materials to protect the components. The capsule lid was secured using zip ties. A 1200g Kaymont weather balloon was attached 5 feet above a 3 foot parachute from which the payload was suspended by an additional 15 feet of rope. The balloon was inflated using 94.85 cubic feet of industrial grade Helium. With a total payload weight of 1294 grams, the vehicle achieved an ascent rate of approximately 900 ft/minute.
Styrofoam bait cooler
Badge gantry materials, miscellaneous hardware and rope
Sending an unmanned aerial balloon with a treasured payload to near-space involves intense planning, exact engineering and a little luck. Very specific federal regulations must be followed, precisely designed components need to be constructed, and care must be taken to ensure safety of those on the ground. The descriptions, materials and schematics provided here are for educational purposes only. DO NOT attempt a near-space mission without consulting professionals.
Neither Geek Squad nor the members of the Icarus team assume any liability for the accuracy of the content on this page or the outcome of any project attempting to replicate our work.