Instead of realizing that he was not ready to operate the SR22 in low instrument conditions, the pilot took off again into the 200-foot overcast. The avionics data collection system recorded that the pilot engaged the autopilot five seconds after takeoff. He was cleared to fly runway heading and climb to 3,000 feet, and the autopilot altitude preselect mode was properly programmed to climb to an altitude of 3,000 feet at 850 fpm. However, instead of activating altitude preselect, the pilot engaged altitude hold, causing the autopilot to immediately level the airplane and attempt to maintain 940 feet msl, which was only 61 feet above the field elevation. The airplane went through a series of increasingly wild gyrations as the pilot attempted to regain control before crashing in a partially inverted attitude just over four minutes later.