Amateur Radio Roundtable
Pico balloon project

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal

This flights will try to exceed our last flight of 72 days and 3 times around the earth. We are flying an SBS-13 super pressure balloon. The tracker is designed by YO3ICT. I build the tiny tracker under a microscope. When completed the tracker weighs only 1.6 grams. For Reference, a U.S. penny weighs 2.5 grams. The tracker will transmit every 10 minutes via ham radio using WSPR on 20 meters. Although the transmitter is only 10 mW or less, it can be heard over 9000 miles away. Upon each transmission, it will send altitude, speed, heading, system voltage and will plot that on a real time map. Three tracking buttons are provided on the right side of this page. The antenna is a 20 meter vertical dipole antenna made from #36 magnet wire. It is so small you can barely see it. Hydrogen gas will be used since it gives us a couple thousand feet in altitude over helium. We plan to fly at around 42000,43,000 ft. The system is  solar powered using 8 half volt solar cells providing over 4.5 volts at 240 ma.   Since we are solar powered, transmissions will only take place when the balloon is in daylight. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

Special Thanks to the following:  Eduard Volculescu (YO3ICT) for his design of the ICT tracker and help in construction and programming, and to Bill Brown, WB8ELK, Master of High Altitude Balloons, for all the help, and involvement and mentoring.

"The Journey Continues"
Flight call sign
W5KUB-20

This is our 12th expedition around the world
Our record flight has been 72 days and 3 times around the world
Approx 90,000 miles traveled in 72 days

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group


To watch video of gassing, sealing, and launch click here

 

Links for Winds   Ventusky.com    Windy.com


Click either button below to see a map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customizethe data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Thanks to our supporters
Team Members of flight W5KUB-19

Marilyn and Rick Tillman WA4NVM
Richard George KE0YGN
Paul Zynosky
Jim Draeger  AB5JM
Jim Dugger N4MXZ
John Schumacher
Joe Eisenberg K0NEB
David Bainbridge VE3XPM
Pete Slug  K4PHS
Performace Model Aviation  K3GOL
Deborah Dugger
Russ Bickle  KG0BK
Bill Turner  W4WNT

Be a team member and donate
Click on the donate tab in the menu above

Ed and Tom  precisely filling the sbs-13 balloon with 8 grams of free lift

 

 

This is what the sbs-13 balloon looks like before filling

 

 

 

This is the little homebrew wspr tracker (design yo3ict) Parts are so small you have to build it under a microscope

 

Here is the finished payload. 8 cells give me approx 4.5 volts at 240 mA.  We are
running a 3 F 3V supercap on this one.  It is attached to the 3V side of the regulator.
straws are used to keep lines from tangling .  Tracker is mounted vertically in the
center of the styrofoam.  Total payload is about 11.4 grams. 

Below are previous missions

Amateur Radio Roundtable
Pico balloon project

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal

This flights will try to exceed our last flight of 72 days and 3 times around the earth. We are flying an SBS-13 super pressure balloon. The tracker is designed by YO3ICT. I build the tiny tracker under a microscope. When completed the tracker weighs only 1.6 grams. For Reference, a U.S. penny weighs 2.5 grams. The tracker will transmit every 10 minutes via ham radio using WSPR on 20 meters. Although the transmitter is only 10 mW or less, it can be heard over 9000 miles away. Upon each transmission, it will send altitude, speed, heading, system voltage and will plot that on a real time map. Three tracking buttons are provided on the right side of this page. The antenna is a 20 meter vertical dipole antenna made from #36 magnet wire. It is so small you can barely see it. Hydrogen gas will be used since it gives us a couple thousand feet in altitude over helium. We plan to fly at around 42000,43,000 ft. The system is mostly solar powered using 10 half volt solar cells providing over 5 volts at 240 ma.  We will also have a lipo battery on board but it will not function above about 28,000 ft due to the extreme cold temperatures reaching -70 degrees C (about -100F) Since we are solar powered, transmissions will only take place when the balloon is in daylight. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

Special Thanks to the following:  Eduard Volculescu (YO3ICT) for his design of the ICT tracker and help in construction and programming, and to Bill Brown, WB8ELK, Master of High Altitude Balloons, for all the help, and involvement and mentoring.

This balloon came down in only

one week due to a storm in Albania

"The Journey Continues"
Flight call sign
W5KUB-19

This is our eleventh expedition around the world
Our record flight has been 72 days and 3 times around the world
Approx 90,000 miles traveled in 72 days

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group


To watch video of gassing, sealing, and launch click here

 

Links for Winds   Ventusky.com    Windy.com


Click either button below to see a map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customizethe data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Thanks to our supporters
Team Members of flight W5KUB-19

Marilyn and Rick Tillman WA4NVM
Peter Doherty KC1HHO
Russ Bickle  KG0BK
Walter Perry N5EQY
Jim Dugger  N4MXZ
Michael Rowan  WA7MSR
Bill Chism  WZ5X
Charles Kelly  W9MDO
Ben Zandstra  PE2BZ
Richard Sytsma
James Backus  N9JHB
Richard Daily  KB5FLA
Scott Pabish
William Cullison  WB8VIH
Laird Lind
Jeremia Jackson  W1DOX
Kenneth Sipe  KI4UDZ
Dan Hester  N5USA
William Rose Jr
Andy Keir  VK2AAK
John McCarthy  K4OP
John Schumacher  N4DOU
Michael Jacobs
Paul Zynosky  W4PPZ
David Bainbridge  VE2XPM
Gregory Chaney  N9MOX
William Roberts
Mark Pupo  KE8HIW
Thomas Azlin
Larry Pasman
Bill Chism WZ5X
Thomas Tillack  NQ8O
Bill Poulin  WZ1
L Barry Sandefer  W4WYD

Be a team member and donate
Click on the donate tab in the menu above


Ed and Tom  precisely filling the sbs-13 balloon with 8 grams of free lift

 

 

This is what the sbs-13 balloon looks like before filling

 

 

 

This is the little homebrew wspr tracker (design yo3ict) Parts are so small you have to build it under a microscope

 

 

 

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Launched August 9, 2020

We only stayed up 5 days.  It went down in a big
storm over North Carolina

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal
On this flight we are not going for laps around the world, although the balloon is very capable of that. We are testing some special circuitry that will allow a LiPo battery to operate at altitudes of 40,000 ft and at temperatures of -40 to -70C. Special charging circuits have been designed and special arrangements have been add to heat the battery during the day to allow charging. The battery capacity is enough that we hope to provide nearly 24 hour tracking.. The balloon will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. Because of the excessive weight of the battery, our altitude will be limited.  Calculations show we will probably reach a float altitude of 40,200 ft..  We will receive tracking every 10 minutes via  WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. This payload is very heavy coming in at about 30 grams. That limits our top float altitude.. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

About the Tracking
We hope to have tracking every 10 minutes throughout the day and night.  Due to regulations no transmissions over North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub
This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the balloon.
WSPR
Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. Standard WSPR does not give us all the data we need. We are using a modified WSPR protocol which uses an additional time slot to send gps data information.

The payload consists of a  home made tracker (yo3ict design) that contains the GPS system, and an HF transmitter running only about 10 milliwatts.This is less power than most of your blueTooth devices at home.We are trying a different power system on this launch. Ths solar panels are dual 4.8V volt 50 ma pane Giving us 100 mA of current.l. No super capacitor in use on this flight since we are flying a battery. See Pictures at the right of this page.

Special Thanks to the following:  Eduard Volculescu (YO3ICT) for his design of the ICT tracker and help in construction and programming, and to Bill Brown, WB8ELK, Master of High Altitude Balloons, for all the help, and involvement and mentoring.

Flight Call Sign
W5KUB-21

This is our tenth expedition around the world

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group


Click either button below to see map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customizethe data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Click here for a video of our launch

Daily updates and flight notes:

Thanks to our supporters
for this flight

Team Members
of flight W5KUB-21

Marilyn and Rick Tillman WA4NVM
Peter Doherty KC1HHO

Russ Bickle  KG0BK
Walter Perry N5EQY
Jim Dugger  N4MXZ
Michael Rowan  WA7MSR
Bill Chism  WZ5X
Charles Kelly  W9MDO
Ben Zandstra  PE2BZ
Richard Sytsma
James Backus  N9JHB
Richard Daily  KB5FLA
Scott Pabish
William Cullison  WB8VIH
Laird Lind
Jeremia Jackson  W1DOX
Kenneth Sipe  KI4UDZ
Dan Hester  N5USA
William Rose Jr
Andy Keir  VK2AAK
John McCarthy  K4OP
John Schumacher  N4DOU
Michael Jacobs
Paul Zynosky  W4PPZ
David Bainbridge  VE2XPM
Gregory Chaney  N9MOX
William Roberts
Mark Pupo  KE8HIW
Thomas Azlin

Larry Pasman
Bill Chism WZ5X
Thomas Tillack  NQ8O
Bill Poulin  WZ1L
Barry Sandefer  W4WYD

Ed and Tom  precisely filling the sbs-13 balloon with 8 grams of free lift

 

 

This is what the sbs-13 balloon looks like before filling

 

 

 

This is the little homebrew wspr tracker (design yo3ict) Parts are so small you have to build it under a microscope

 

Shown is the finished tracker we are flying for W5KUB-18.   The tracker and voltage regulator are glued and taped under the back side of the solar panel.  The gps antenna sticks up off the edge of the panel. A 20 meter dipole completes the entire system. The antenna is 34 ft total.  One half (17 ft) goes from the tracker up to the balloon, and the other half (17 ft) hangs below the tracker.

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

72 Days 00 Hours 20 Minutes

Laps Completed
Lap 1  May 28, 2020
Lap 2 June 19, 2020
Lap 3  July 12,2020

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal
To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. For this flight we will use a balloon called the SBS-13 (expensive) that has the capability of flying in the altitude range of 43000-45000 ft.. It will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. We hope to fly around 45,000 ft. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive tracking every 10 minutes via  WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 9 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

About the Tracking
We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub
This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the balloon.
WSPR
Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. Standard WSPR does not give us all the data we need. We are using a modified WSPR protocol which uses an additional time slot to send gps data information.

The payload consists of a  home made tracker (yo3ict design) that contains the GPS system, and an HF transmitter running only about 10 milliwatts.This is less power than most of your blueTooth devices at home.We are trying a different power system on this launch. Ths solar panel is a single 3.6 volt 100 ma panel. We are using s 2 F super capacitor across it and have implemented a 3.3 v regulator to get the proper voltage to the tracker board. See Pictures at the right of this page.

Special Thanks to the following:  Eduard Volculescu (YO3ICT) for his design of the ICT tracker and help in construction and programming, and to Bill Brown, WB8ELK, Master of High Altitude Balloons, for all the help, and involvement and mentoring.

Flight Call Sign
W5KUB-18

This is our 9th attempt to circumnavigate the earth.  Will we make it this time?

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group

Success We completed 3 revolutions around the world


Click either button below to see map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customizethe data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Click here for a video of our launch

Day 72 July 22, 2020  The balloon stopped reporting today. The likely cause is that it went down over the Norwegian Sea off the coast of Norway.

Day 70-71 July 20-21,2020  Traveling slow making a big loop off the east of Iceland. We are starting to see loss of altitude. Most likely we are starting to lose hydrogen.

Day 63-69  July 14-19, 2020    We moved into the North Atlantic and then up into the Norwegian Sea between Iceland and Norway.  Flying very slow. Making a big loop back to Greenland.  On July 17 we though we were going down.  We lost about 5000 ft in just a few hours. It appears that the balloon probably got some icing and started losing altitude. At some point it warmed up and then went back up to normal altitude.  The prediction is taking us down the east coast of Greenland then a straight shot across to Norway. We should reach Norway in 3 days. (arriving on Tues)  We hope this gets us into a lower orbit and we can get back to some higher and more stable jet streams.

Day 58-62  July 9-13, 2020  Moving very slow.  Finally crossed the finish line for lap 3 on Sunday afternoon July 12.  We are moving very slow across Hudson Bay.  Looks like we may be stuck flying in the arctic region for weeks to come.

-Day 55,56,57,58  July 5-8, 2020   Well we finally started heading south and out of the arctic circle. Made a loop and went down Alaska from north to south.  Out over water and after about 400 miles, we headed East and are now over land in Canada.  Predictions will take us through the upper part of Canada and across lake Huron. At that point we will officially pass the 89 longitude and complete lap 3 around the world.  This path should take us to Greenland and then we hope to go a little more south and catch the jet stream again for lap 4 around the world.

Day 52,53,54  July 2-4,2020  We continue to go north. Traveled through the Northwest Territory and then out into the Arctic Sea.  We are starting to turn east a little so maybe we will be coming out of the Arctic. Altitude is good at 41-42,000 ft and speeds slow 15-30 mph.

Day 50-51 June 30-July 1, 2020  Traveled across the us today but started taking a northern route.  We were only about 200 miles from the 3rd lap finish line but headed north. Predictions take us up into Canada and back west nearly to Alaska.  This will add about 4 or more days before the balloon will be traveling back east across the finish line.  It went to sleep at 2340 UTC tonight (Wed 7-1) up in Canada after traveling through South Dakota and North Dakota.

Day 48, 49  June 28,29, 2020   Took some extra time to cross the Pacific. We had to take another loop which added another 50 or more hours.  We hit the west coast tonight about the time the tracker was going to sleep.  The finish line for lap 3 is in sight.

Day 46-47  June 26, 27, 2020  Well we got caught in a big circle about 1000 miles off the west coast.  So we are making the rounds. This will add about 50 hours of travel time before we hit the U.S. shore.Our altitude today is 44,619. that is a record for this flight, so that indicates we dont have leaks. Everything doing fine.  Speeds are down as low as 30-50 mph today.

Day 44, 45 June 24-25, 2020  We crossed China. We missed North Korea by 100 miles.  We traveled above N. Korea and across the yellow sea.  Woke up on June 25th about 700 miles east of Japan in the Pacific.  Getting very few signals and data as reports in this area.  Not too concerned . I checked the log of our last lap through this area and we only got 3 good track reports all day.  So I think we are ok.

Day 42, 43  June 22-23, 2020   We crossed Algeria and Libya with no problems, then crossed the Mediterranean sea and crossed Turkey.  Before it went to sleep we were on the border of Uzbekistan.  altitude good and speeds around 100 mph.  When it wakes up it should be near the border inside China.

Day 40, 41 June 20-21, 2020  We crossed the Atlantic in record time. No issues, speed about 170 mph.  We crossed into northern Spain and headed south,  We crossed the Sea of Gibraltar and entered into Algeria about the time it went to sleep.  During tracking tomorrow we will be in Libya.  altitude has been steady since launch.

Day 39 June 19, 2020 Completed Lap 2  At approx 0500 UTC we crossed the 89 Longitude and completed lap 2 around the world. We are over Quebec and heading east at about 90 mph and at 42,650 ft altitude. Looks like a straight shot to Europe .  We should be there in about 40 hours of flying time.

Day 35-38  June 14-18, 2020  finally made it across the Pacific.  Woke up over Las Vegas (June 17) and traveled over the Grand Canyon. This morning (june 18 it woke up over Nebraska and it took the north route. We will be going high into Canada and then east across to Europe.  This route will avoid the Africa and middle east.   We anticipate that will will cross longitude 89 about 10 pm tonight to complete lap 2.

Day 28-34 June 7-13, 2020   We have been stuck going in circles in the pacific for a week now.   We went into 3 different weather pattern circles.  Looks like we finally will escape them today.  We are about 800 miles north east of Hawaii and on our way to the U.S. to complete lap 2. We should make the u.s. mainland in about 60 hours. Altitude still perfect, speeds anywhere from 15 to 45 mph.

Day 26,27  Fri and Sat June 5-6, 2020  We crossed the East China Sea and went the length of Japan from bottom to top. Altitude is great and no change. Not much to see Fri as we were mostly over sea. Sat over Japan.   As we are leaving Japan our speeds are up to 150 mph-200 mph.

Day 25 Thursday June, 4, 2020  We made it into Central China. Altitude is good.  speed is picking up some to about 70 mph.   communications is still bad over this part of the world.

Day 24  Wednesday  June 3, 2020   Our communications problem reset and cleared up.  We are still in a poor area for communications.  We made it into western China. Today we passed over Israel , Jordan and headed East. Not much to report. Flying mostly during our nighttime. Altitude still looking great.

Day 23  Tuesday June 2, 2020  We crossed Algeria last night and have crossed part of Libya today before it went to sleep.  We had an issue today where our processor got scrambled  and was not properly sending data. Tonight when the sun went down, the voltage got down to 2.5 v and that is set to reset the processor.   We did get two transmissions after reset (but i very low critical sun angle) and it appears that the processor is back to normal operation.  We estimate we will be traveling about 80 mph tonight and should show up over or near Jordan about 12:15 AM in the morning central time (0515 UTC)

Day 22 Monday June 1, 2020  not much to see today. Flying over the ocean all night and all day. Altitude is still perfect.  It went to sleep tonight at 1750 UTC as it was entering the Straight of Gibraltar.

Day 21 Sunday May 31, 2020    altitude was great today. it is same as launch day.  Travel has been slow. Top speed 15-20 mph.  Went to sleep at 1840 UTC.  We are 900 miles off the coast of Africa. should reach it tomorrow afternoon.

Day 20  SaturdayMay 30, 2020   Not much going on today. Flying over the ocean all day.  Left Newfoundland and went to sleep over the Azores.  altitude hanging steady speeds 38-58 mph.

Day 19  Friday May 29, 2020  Very uneventful.  Traveled up the u.s. and went to sleep over Newfouland. altitude was perfect at 43,832 and speeds maxed out around 85 mph.

Day 18  Thursday May 28, 2020 WE JUST COMPLETED OUR FIRST LAP AROUND THE WORLD.  The balloon woke up this morning exactly on predicted time of 0750 AM central but had made it further east than predicted.  When it woke up this morning it was on the Alabama-George line.   altitude is looking great at 43,438 ft and we are getting solid position reports every 10 minutes.  Its heading north.

Day 17  Wed May 27, 2020    Good flying today over Nevada, Colorado, Texas and a little of Mexico.  As the sun went down we were at Corpus Christi, TX.  Speed was about 60 mph and altitude was steady at 44,000 ft.   As it went to sleep it was heading out over the Gulf of Mexico. That area is full of storms and some cloud tops as high as 45,000 ft. We are only flying at 44,500 ft so this could be a major concern.  We are only about 5 hours away from a complete circumnavigation of the earth. (our first lap)  Will we make it.  We should hit the finish line around (0600 UTC)  We wont know if we are still flying until tomorrow morning to see if it wakes up around Mobile, AL about 7:50 AM  (1250 UTC)

Day 16  Tues  May 26, 2020.   W5KUB-18 woke up at approx 1536 UTC and is flying over Nevada,  Altitude looks good and speed is around 32 mph.  Everything looking good.  Be sure to tune into our live ham radio show tonight on W5KUB.COM at 8:00 PM central or 0100 UTC

Day 14-15  Sun-Monday May 24-25, 2020  We got caught in a very slow weather pattern again about 200 miles off the coast of California. Speeds were only 20 mph and we went in some circles.  got dark around 0110 UTC,  altitude is perfect 44,028 ft.

Day 13 Sat May 23, 2020  Great flying today  Communications and tracking was perfect. connected every 10 minutes solid. First half of the day we were moving little over 100 mph but it slowed down to 50-60 mph as it approached the mainland U.S.   We are about 400 miles off shore when we lost sun light tonight. The balloon should appear over San Francisco in the morning around 8:15 AM pacific time. (1500 utc)

 

Day 11, 12  Thurs and Friday May 21-22, 2020  We crossed China , the yellow sea, and Japan. Speeds up to about 115 mph.  Communications problems have gone away. We are getting solid updates every 10 minutes.  Altitude still good at 43,000 ft.   Comm problems over the middle east were probably propagation and the fact that not many use wspr in that area of the world.

Day 9, 10  Tues and Wed May 19-20  We ar finally moving again  Crossing Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.  Communications problems are hurting us.  only a few reports per day. Altitude goos at 43,000 ft.  and we are picking up speed to about 50-70 mph.

Day 8 Monday May 18th, 2020 Still stuck in Egypt and not moving.  Cant get a break to get out of here.  Also communications starting to get spotty.  Are we developing issues with our tracker transmitter on 20 meters?

Day 7 Sunday May 17, 2020 Still stuck in slow speed in Egypt. Looks like we have turned east and might break out of the slow speed in the next 12 hours. Altitues is good at 43,241 ft.  It woke up today at 0510 UTC and went back to sleep at about 1510 UTC.  We should wake back up about 9:00 PM Central time and the balloon should be over Israel.  We hope at that point we start picking up speed again.

Day 5-6  May 15, 16, 2020 We seem to be stuck in a weather pattern  the past 3 days where we are pretty much sitting still.  Speeds are around 8 mph and we are slowly heading south in Egypt.  altitude still great at 43,000 ft. 

Day 4 May 14, 2020  Woke up exactly on the time we predicted today.  Awake at 0540 UTC over Italy.  Balloon has slowed down some as we only covered about 350 miles during the night. Altitude has increased to 43,635 which is very good. Speed is about 25-30 mph.  sunlight ended around 1520 UTC today and the tracker went to sleep.  We expect it to show up over Turkey when it wakes up.  Estimating the wakeup time to be around 11:50 PM central time tonight (0750 UTC Sat) All systems working great.

Day 3   May 13, 2020  It woke up today at 0750 UTC just off the coast of Morocco.  Flying at a steady 42,000 ft and reached the north border of Morocco by time to go to sleep again.  Speed averaged about 90 mph.  Went to sleep at 1710 UTC.  its course is not heading to Italy.  We should pick it up over italy in the morning once sunlight appears there.

Day 2   May 12, 2020  Things went well today as we crossed the Atlantic. No issues. We flew a steady 42,000 ft and were averaging 100 mph. It went to sleep at 1950 UTC as we lost the sun.

 

Day 1 Launch  May 11, 2020  Everything looked good. Great launch.  Wind was only about 1-2 mph. We are using less free lift on this flight. Only 6.5 grams of hydrogen. Reached our float altitude of 42,500 ft in 3.5 hours.  The tracker reported its position every 10 minutes for about 9 hours and 30 minutes until we lost the sun on the east coast.

Daily updates and flight notes:

Thanks to our supporters

we had enough funds to

purchase two SBS-13 balloons

Team Members
of flight W5KUB-17 & 18

 

Mark Langenfeld  WA9ETW
James Backus  N9JHB
Marilyn and Rick Tillman WA4NVM
Kurt Schulz  KE8MLP
Russell Hays   KI6YUO
Marty Duplissey N5KBP
James Bradley  KB1JKJ
Laird Lind  KC5LL
Barbara Raye
Peter Doherty  KC1HHO
James Easter
Rich Olson  W9TIT
Michael Haslip  W7MDH
John O'Neill  K0VW
Stephanus Nell K6NG

Spike  W4AXX
Ed and Tom  precisely filling the sbs-13 balloon with 8 grams of free lift

 

This is what the sbs-13 balloon looks like before filling

 

 

 

This is the little homebrew wspr tracker (design yo3ict) Parts are so small you have to build it under a microscope

 

Shown is the finished tracker we are flying for W5KUB-18.   The tracker and voltage regulator are glued and taped under the back side of the solar panel.  The gps antenna sticks up off the edge of the panel. A 20 meter dipole completes the entire system. The antenna is 34 ft total.  One half (17 ft) goes from the tracker up to the balloon, and the other half (17 ft) hangs below the tracker.

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal
To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. For this flight we will use a balloon called the SBS-13 (expensive) that has the capability of flying in the altitude range of 43000-45000 ft.. It will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. We hope to fly around 45,000 ft. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive tracking every 10 minutes via  WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 9 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

About the Tracking
We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub
This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the balloon.
WSPR
Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. Standard WSPR does not give us all the data we need. We are using a modified WSPR protocol which uses an additional time slot to send gps data information.

The payload consists of a  tracker that contains the GPS system, and an HF transmitter running only about 10 milliwatts.This is less power than most of your blueTooth devices at home. It is powered by six .5 volt solar cells in series to give approx. 3 volts. These cells are capable of delivering over one quarter amp.

Flight Call Sign
W5KUB-17

This is our 8th attempt to circumnavigate the earth.  Will we make it this time?

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group

Click either button below to see map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Click here for a video of our launch


UPDATE: After 6 days of flying great at 45,000 ft, our balloon hit a bad storm in Western China and went down.

Daily updates and flight notes:

Team Members
of flight W5KUB-17

 

Mark Langenfeld  WA9ETW
James Backus  N9JHB
Marilyn and Rick Tillman WA4NVM
Kurt Schulz  KE8MLP
Russell Hays   KI6YUO
Marty Duplissey N5KBP
James Bradley  KB1JKJ
Laird Lind  KC5LL
Barbara Raye
Peter Doherty  KC1HHO
James Easter
Rich Olson  W9TIT
Michael Haslip  W7MDH
John O'Neill  K0VW
Stephanus Nell K6NG

Spike  W4AXX

 

 

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal
To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. We will use two $4.00 Chinese 36 inch clear balloons. They will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. The design shoul fly at approx 32,000 ft. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive tracking every 10 minutes via  WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 15 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

About the Tracking
We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub
This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the balloon.
WSPR
Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. Standard WSPR does not give us all the data we need. We are using a modified WSPR protocol which uses an additional time slot to send gps data information.

The payload consists of a  tracker that contains the GPS system, and an HF transmitter running only about 20 milliwatts.This is less power than most of your blueTooth devices at home. It is powered by 2 3.6 volt solar panels in parallel using a .47 farad supercapacitor. 

This is our 7th attempt to circumnavigate the earth
Will we make it?

Call Sign W5KUB-15

This is a relaunch from a previous failed mission

UPDATE: We had a great launch on April 6, 2020. flew at 30,000 ft and speeds up to 100 mph.  We are having some trouble with the transmissions. The balloon is not reporting every 10 minutes like designed.  There are periods of 2 - 4hous where it does not transmit.  It is still flying and not down. We should get reports from time to time. Keep checking. 

UPDATE  APRIL 10, 2020.  The balloon reported this morning with altitude of 1500 ft. It was going down. There were a lot of storms in Spain over night. We may have also had a balloon failure. It went down In the mountains near Luque, Spain.


Click here to join our ham radio facebook group

Click either button below to see map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Daily updates and flight notes:

 

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Is it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal
To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. We will use a new aero-space material balloon called the SBS-13. It will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. The design shoul fly at approx 41,000 to 43,000 ft. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive tracking every 10 minutes via  WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 15 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.

About the Tracking
We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub
This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the balloon.
WSPR
Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. Standard WSPR does not give us all the data we need. We are using a modified WSPR protocol which uses an additional time slot to send gps data information.

The payload consists of a  tracker that contains the GPS system, and an HF transmitter running only about 10 milliwatts.. It is powered by 2 3.6 volt solar panels in parallel using a .47 farad supercapacitor. 

This is our 5th attempt to circumnavigate the earth
Will we make it?

Call Sign W5KUB-15

Launched on March 30, 2020 Total failure. Bad clouds plus possible hydrogen leak. No reports after launch.  We consider this one dead on launch

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group

Click either button below to see map of balloon location. Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see. For example metric or U.S. units

Daily updates and flight notes:


Ed and Tom carefully measuring the Hydrogen gas lift to the gram

Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Is  it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal

To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. On this flight we are flying a single clear Chinese 36 inch balloon.  It was pretested and pre-stretched by Edurad YO3ICT.They will be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. The design should fly at approx 35,000 ft due to ta light 1.5 gram tracker designed by Eduard. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). It will transmit updates on  WSPR on HF approximately every 10 minutes..
Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.


About the Tracking

We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

HabHub

This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the
balloon.

WSPR

Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. We are using new technology on wspr where our transmissions are given its own time slot to send additional data. 

Payload

The payload consists of a 1.5Gram tracker that contains the GPS system, an HF transmitter..Additionally powering all this are six half volt solar panels. No super capacitor is being used on this flight  The solar cells weigh a total of about 2.2 grams and the entire 20 meter dipole is about1.34 grams.



Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Is  it legal?

Yes it is, we are flying under FAA 101 exemption rules.

Our Mission and Goal

To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. On this flight we are flying 2 Qualatex 36 inch balloons. They will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. The design shoul fly at approx 28,500 ft due to the heavy payload (25 grams). It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive  tracking every 2 minutes via APRS  on VHF and backup WSPR on HF.
APRS Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 25 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.


About the Tracking

We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

APRS

You will see speed, altitude, temp voltage, Heading, and Lat and Lon. under preferences you can set it for metric or imperial units. The aprs transmitter is running .5 watts of power on the 144 Mhz band. Typical range is about 250 miles. There are no APRS receivers over the ocean or Africa and the Middle East.

HabHub

This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the
balloon.

WSPR

Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. WSPR does not give us all the data we get above. It is used as back up to the other data systems.  For example while over the ocean, it could be 5 days that we do not hear from it on the vhf bands, But WSPR will tell us its approx location and if it is still moving.

Payload

The payload consists of a 9 Gram tracker that contains the GPS system, an HF transmitter, and a VHF transmitter.Additionally powering all this is three 4.8 Volt 50 ma solar panels with a 3 Farad 6 V super capacitor to handle the large current of the vhf transmitter on start up.


Previous Flights

W5KUB-1

Standard 3 ft mylar party balloon running the skytracker. Helium gas.  We flew at 31,000 ft and made it to the coast of Japan where we hit a storm and went down. Distance 14,000 miles in 14 days.

Pictured Bill Brown WB9ELK


Amateur Radio Roundtable
High altitude balloon project

Our Mission and Goal

To launch a high altitude balloon for long duration and multiple trips around the world. We will use a new aero-space material balloon called the SBS-13. It will
be filled with hydrogen to obtain higher altitude. The design shoul fly at approx 41,000 to 43,000 ft. It will be solar powered only (no batteries so it will only transmit during daylight). We will receive  tracking every 2 minutes via APRS  on VHF and backup WSPR on HF.
Tracking data will give us Altitude, Speed, Voltage, Temperature, future course predictions. Entire payload is approx 25 Grams. Transmissions will be turned off over the UK, Yemen, and North Korea due to regulations.


About the Tracking

We are solar only so no data or reports
during the dark hours. Due to regulations no transmissionsover North Korea, Yemen, or UK.

APRS

You will see speed, altitude, temp voltage, Heading, and Lat and Lon. under preferences you can set it for metric or imperial units. The aprs transmitter is running .5 watts of power on the 144 Mhz band. Typical range is about 250 miles. There are no APRS receivers over the ocean or Africa and the Middle East.

HabHub

This site gives you speed, heading voltage, Altitude, Temp, lat and Lon. Under settings you can set things like metric or imperical measurements. If you click on Hysplit, it will give you estimated prediction paths for the
balloon.

WSPR

Our WSPR transmitter works on HF at 14 Mhz and has a range of over 5000 miles. It is only running 10 mw of power. Baud rate for data is 1.4 Baud. Yes you read it right 1.4. The signal bandwidth is only 6 Hz wide. WSPR does not give us all the data we get above. It is used as back up to the other data systems.  For example while over the ocean, it could be 5 days that we do not hear from it on the vhf bands, But WSPR will tell us its approx location and if it is still moving.

Payload

The payload consists of a 9 Gram tracker that contains the GPS system, an HF transmitter, and a VHF transmitter. powering all this is a 4.8 Volt 50 ma solar panel with a 3 Farad 6 V super capacitor to handle the large current of the vhf transmitter on start up.


Previous Flights

W5KUB-1

Standard 3 ft mylar party balloon running the skytracker. Helium gas.  We flew at 31,000 ft and made it to the coast of Japan where we hit a storm and went down. Distance 14,000 miles in 14 days.

Pictured Bill Brown WB9ELK


Balloon Callsign

W5KUB   (WSPR)
KUB1 (habhub)
W5KUB-12 (APRS)

launched March 7, 2020

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group 

Click either button below to see map of balloon location.  Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see.  For example metric or U.S. units

Day 4   March 10, 2020   Still no transmissions from balloon today. We are guessing it is down somewhere around the UK.  Each day of no reports gets us closer to verifying that it is down. Sun angles are very low up there. It is possible that it moved very north and into the dark.  There have been some balloons that stopped transmitting and then started again 90 days later.  We just need to keep an eye out for this one. Possible it might show up later but doubtful. We are already working on a new launch to go around the world. 

Day 3 March 9, 2020   nothing heard today.  It could still be up. The solar cells do not function when the sun angle is about 30 degrees or less.  We estimated it near London today but the highest sun angle at London was only 34 degrees. Also the predicted path took us way north of the UK meaning that the sun was even lower up there.  Probably max height was below 30 degrees.  We did go through some storms in the Atlantic last night but that was during a period of no transmissions.  We will have to wait until tomorrow to see if the balloon comes back alive. Others that have sent balloons up have gone into that region and it is dark up there and their balloons did not report for weeks. 

Day 2  March 8, 2020    the tracker came back alive around 8:00 am local time near Bermuda this morning when it started receiving the sun.  We are following the NOAA prediction path very closely.  Present speed at 11:00 AM central time was 154.8 mph.  The altitude is at 32,808 ft. 

Day 1 Launched at 12:10 AM March 7, 2020 Launch went great. Balloon went straight up. Vertical rate of climb was around 165-200 feet per minute. Low level winds was only moving the balloon about 25-30 mph as it increased altitude. Once we hit 27,000 we got in to an air stream running around 55 mph and it should turn into 80-90 mph in the next couple hours.  Used hydrogen and no safety issues. We still have all our eye brows and our fingers. The solar panels do not function when the sun gets below 32 degrees therefore we will lose it around 3:30 pm each day. We now have to wait until tomorrow track to see how it is doing.  We are solar panel power only so no tracking during the night. It is running uner 3 calls.  On WSPR you can track it using W5KUB. On APRS you can track using W5KUB-12, and on HabHub you can track it as KUB1

 

 

 

Balloon Callsign
W5KUB-13

launched Feb 28, 2020

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group 

Click either button below to see map of balloon location.  Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see.  For example metric or U.S. units

UPDATE.  March 15, 2020 the Balloon was recovered near the Baltic Sea in Poland. Thanks to the recovery team . thanks Bill Brown and SP2KMH radio club team. Grzegorz: SQ2MTK, Andrzej SQ2MMS, SQ2CDE and Michał. Also thanks to Mark Ka9SZX for the pic

Update: March 14, 2020 the aprs on the balloon started sending today. It appears to be on the ground on the beach of the Baltic sea in Poland. Hams are trying to get to it but the coronavirus has stopped people from traveling there to look for it.

LOST   Looks like we went down somewhere around the Russian boarder. Once it became night and we crossed the board we never heard it again

Day3 March 1, 2020 We have made it all the way to Germany. Average speed across ocean was about 115 mph.   Over Europe we were only traveling about 55-65 mph. Once we passed over Stuttgart, Germany we picked up speed to 99 mph. Must have hit the autobahn.  Finally went dark, so no more tracking for about 12 hours.  We should be in Poland by 3:00 PM central time.  Everything working perfect. And because we have a heavy payload (25 grams) we are stuck at about 28,500 ft.   This means we could hit the top of some storms.

Day 2 Feb 29, 2020  as predicted wspr is showing it mid way over the Alantic. we only have wspr so no altitude, lat, long, etc. Not much going on as the balloon is in the dark most of our daylight.

Launch date: Feb 28, 2020 at 0915 Central.  Filled a test balloon to launch for wind direction. No one injured, still have all fingers and eye brows. Payload was a little heavy (25 grams) . We used 2 Chinese Qualtex balloons ($2.00 each). A little cloudy but cleared up to be a totally sunny day about 15 minutes after launch. Each balloon carried 3 grams of free lift.  It took about 11 minutes to reach 2700 ft. Climb rate at 9000 ft was about 170 ft per minute.   Average speed 117 mph. By 4 PM eastern it had made it almost to the Atlantic coast of North Carolina .At that point we went into darkness and no transmissions until next day.No tracking during dark hours due to solar power only. 

 

 

 

Balloon Callsign
W5KUB-11

launched Jan 27, 2020

Click here to join our ham radio facebook group 

Click either button below to see map of balloon location.  Each are similar but allow you to customize the data you want to see.  For example metric or U.S. units

Day 29, Feb 25, 2020  Still no word from the balloon.  We think we hit a major storm off the coast of Africa. It has gone dark. There have been other similar balloons that went silent for over 94 days and then came back alive and started reporting. Its a small chance this will happen but we will keep checking each week on this balloon's status. In the mean time we are planning a new launch of a small balloon around mid March.

Day 6 Feb 1, 2020 We have not heard from the balloon in 3 days. Last report it was entering Africa.  Probably has gone down but we are not certain. We will keep watching over the next week to see if it reappears.  It was flying great and have no indication it was losing altitude. It was flying steady at 41,000 ft. We went into darkness so no reports during the time frame in question.  We are already working to build our next tracker based on YO3ICT. tracker weighs only 1.5 grams. Should be built by end of Feb and we will schedule another launch soon.  In the meantime lets keep watching for this one to re-appear.

Day 2 Jan 27th, 2020  as predicted wspr is showing it mid way over the alantic. we only have wspr so no altitude, lat, long, etc. Not much going on as the balloon is in the dark most of our daylight.

Launch date: Jan 27, 2020 at 0945 Central.  Filled a test balloon to launch for wind direction. It exploded on us. No one injured, still have all fingers and eye brows. Payload was a little heavy (27 grams) and we added 8 grams of Hydrogen as free lift. Today was about the last option to launch. WX prediction was to be partly cloudy. We had some clouds on launch but within about 45 minutes the skies were clear. Wind was averaging about 3-4 mph. Upon launch the balloon went almost straight up. It was already reporting position by 6000 ft.  Cloud ceiling was low. Average speed 100 mph. By 4 PM eastern it had made it 100 miles from east coast and we lost sunlight so no tracking. solar panel is flat and horizontal. Sunset was at 6 pm but it was straight off the side of the panel so no voltage. It should show up on wspr sometime in the morning over the ocean during daylight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the beta test configuration
of balloon flight W5KUB-11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the beta test configuration
of balloon flight W5KUB-11