2 MIT students put together Project Icarus — an ultra low cost rig which they lofted a digital camera via weather balloon to the edge of space.
Ingredients: Helium, a styrofoam beer cooler, a cheap Canon A470 camera, and instant hand warmers to prevent the camera batteries from freezing.
They added a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone for tracking to recover the rig when it landed back to earth.
Total cost: $148.
The $150 Edge-of-Space Camera: MIT Students Beat NASA On Beer-Money Budget
Wired, September 15, 2009