Tag Archives: balloonacy

WhiteStar Balloon Update

There is a new update on http://whitestarballoon.com today;

WhiteStarBalloon web logo

White Star Balloon's website

and Dan Bowen boldly explains some of the complications encountered on their first launch attempt. There is a lot more complexity here than most casual observers may expect. What you don’t see is how many little details DID work as expected. This ain’t a typical party balloon, you don’t justLet it go.”…

We will keep watch for future updates, and expect to be listening on the downlink for the telemetry when you are ready to try again.



WB8ELK 20mHF balloon launch today

This just in via the [Balloonatics] YahooGroup …

Doing another Science Fair flight this Saturday from the NSSTC building in Huntsville AL. We also plan to do a paper airplane challenge to see just how far they REALLY go (being assembled by the Makers Local 256 group who won the Hacker’s Spaces in Space high altitude balloon competition to take the cheapest photo from Near Space last Summer)…..upwards of 100 paper airplanes will be released from the stratosphere with serial numbers on them….watch out Germany!!!….most likely they will be landing in Georgia unless we get some that achieve a million to one glide ratio.

Saturday Feb 26th at 1:30 pm CST 34.73 -86.64
WB8ELK on 14.102 MHz USB (audio will be centered around 1700 Hz) Sequence as follows starting at the top of each minute: – CW altitude – DominoEX16 – ASCII RTTY 110 baud – Hellscreiber altitude.
This is the same format that will be used in the upcoming WhiteStar Balloon trans-Atlantic flight. Important NOTE: when using dl-FLdigi to decode….please select the WB8ELK2 payload instead of the usual WB8ELK payload as I’ve added a new telemetry field.  Landing zone is south of Dalton GA.
Streaming video for this Saturday afternoon’s launch will be on the BATC: www.batc.tv – Click on Member’s Streams then select WB8ELK and hit VIEW.
– Bill WB8ELK

Distributed telemetry collection

Tracking a long-duration high-altitude balloon is a different kinda problem.
For a typical ARHAB flight, we use standard APRS beacon packets on 144 MHz, which are collected from most anywhere and relayed to the APRS-IS database. A long-duration flight is often associated with a trans-oceanic attempt, and VHF APRS just won’t get it done. So, we turn to the HF digital modes and get help from multiple receivers scattered around the world. With enough volunteer listeners, someone’s location will have good conditions and can copy the position beacons. Thanks to a customized version of the FLdigi code (called dl-FLdigi) and a website called SpaceNear.US – there is now a new network for ingesting and processing this distributed telemetry collection.
(reference links at the end of this article)

spacenear.us map display

Flight path, and multiple receivers

This map shows a recent test flight, where WB8ELK used Domino EX16 encoding on his telemetry packets using a 200 mWatt transmitter on 7.077 MHz. His GPS receiver/HF transmitter/battery pack totaled about 1 pound. The balloon had a deliberately slow ascent rate, to keep it aloft for a longer flight. The launch was late in the day to avoid any solar heating. This balloon package travelled thru the dark of night, and landed in the middle of an artillery shooting range at Fort Stewart just west of Savannah GA. The map above shows the locations of the various operators that were listening for the beacon transmissions, using the dl-FLdigi program, and the path of the full flight.

Without going into a lot of detail here, I’ll provide some links, and encourage you to participate in these flights. This program makes it really easy.
The more listeners we have, the more likely we can track the entire flight.
There are plans for a trans-Atlantic attempt in Jan 2011.
Stay tuned for future details . . . . .

Links of relevance :
ARHAB = Amateur Radio High Altitude Balloons
APRS = Automatic Packet Reporting System
APRS-IS = APRS Information System (used a lot for vehicle tracking)
dl-FLdigi = customized program with special HAB mode (JamesCoxon)
fl-digi = linux/Windows program for soundcard modem communications
SpaceNear.US = tracking website
WB8ELK = a world-reknown pioneer in ARHAB sciences
WhiteStar = upcoming trans-Atlantic balloon attempt

WB8ELK flying this weekend

Bill Brown – WB8ELK has announced this weekend’s Amateur Radio High Altitude Balloon (ARHAB) activities.

Balloon 1

Launch around 9:15 am Saturday March 27th
for the Space Hardware Club’s balloon
from near UAH Huntsville, AL at the NSSTC building.
34.73N 86.64W

APRS on 144.39: KJ4NKE-11
APRS on 144.34: KJ4NKE-12

Balloon 2

Around 10 am, the second balloon will lift
with a Science Fair camera project:

APRS on 144.39: WB8ELK-11

DominoEX22 on 144.36 MHz FM: WB8ELK (top of each minute)
300 baud ASCII RTTY (200 hz shift) follows the DominoEX
(decode with FL-digi under “custom RTTY”
300 baud, 200 hz shift, 8N1)

Every 5 minutes the ASCII will be followed by either a CW message
or Hellscreiber mode (on the carrier freq – SSB mode).


Predicted landing zone is near Cleveland, TN

Details from some of Bill’s previous adventures, on his website http://home.hiwaay.net/~bbrown/

WB8ELK screen shot

WB8ELK home page screen shot

More comments and links to follow…