High Altitude Balloon

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Jimmy Carter
One of the activities that I’ve gotten into recently is launching high altitude balloons. I work with W8UPD, the University of Akron Amateur Radio Club, as the hardware guy of the group. Currently I’ve only got one launch under my belt which didn’t exactly go well, but hey, whats progress without a starting point?

W8UPD’s Balloon

One of the cool things about the balloons that W8UPD launches is that we like to send up cross band repeaters. This creates a few hour long repeater with 200-600 mile coverage (at the extremes). A lot of other high altitude balloons have transmitters. Few though have interactive elements that the general ham community can play with.

Along the same lines W8UPD tries to maximize public interaction by making most things (everything so far) use Frequency Modulation. Ham radio operators tend to have at least one FM radio. W8UPD also publicizes the launch and frequencies fairly well, especially as compared to other ham radio clubs and their balloon launches. A lot of this public relations success is due to James K8OMG. You can see his blog at www.k8omg.com

Ricky, N8SQL, has done some fantastic work on interfacing a Raspberry Pi to send down SSTV among other things on the balloon side of things. He also made a awesome little app a few months back to receive and parse the RTTY that the TinyDuino we will be using on the flight is sending. It recovers the location data and updates a web server so that people see a track of the balloon from the web (and don’t necessarily need to be within range of the balloon). His blog is at www.elrod.me

Andrew, KD8JKF, is our go to guy for the physical design of the payload systems. He’s designed all of the payload housings and tether balloon coupling. He has put a lot of care into making sure that our payloads stay as warm and safe as they can be for the ride to 100,000ft

Looking forward to seeing everyone down the log,

KG4SGP - Jim