It’s to easy to track our HAB! All you need is a web browser and Internet access follow our HAB to the edge of space and back. Check out the article (link above) for more information about our HAB and how to track it.
We have established launch windows and begun final launch preparations for our High-Altitude Balloon 4 (HAB-4) launch. We’ve made some modifications to our HAB platform to improve its cold temperature performance and we’ve determined the Balloon and flight path parameters for the upcoming flight. HAB-4 will carry an APRS transmitter and can be tracked using aprs.fi. You can read more about HAB-4 flight preparations via the link that follows.
We are planning the third launch of our High-Altitude Balloon (HAB-3) this Sunday, June 3rd between 10 am and 11 am ET. We will be launching locally from the Hollis-Brookline HS here in Hollis, NH. Checkout the link below to learn more about our HAB projects and how to track our HAB from anywhere in the world while it is in flight. You can also see live stream video froun our launch and recovery via the N1FD Facebook Page.
We got together with the students who did our HAB-2 launch this week to analyze the data from the flight and to preview some of the videos that HAB-2 captured during its flight. You can read more about what we learned from the flight data on the Nashua Area Radio Society website via the link above
We flew our High-Altitude Balloon for the second time this past weekend. Our second High-Altitude Balloon Flight (HAB-2) was part of a STEM learning project that we did with STEM club students at Bishop-Guertin High School in Nashua, NH. The students did all of the flight prep and launched HAB-2 at approximately 11 am ET from a school in Winchester, NH. Parents, teachers and local students joined us for the launch as did several members of our HAB team.
Our students prepared, launched, and tracked HAB-2 this past weekend. Their HAB made it to almost 118,000 ft! You can read more about the launch and the flight on the Nashua Area Radio Society’s website via the link above.
The Nashua Area Radio Society is planning to launch another High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) this coming Saturday, October 28th at 15:00z (11 am Eastern Time) from Winchester, NH USA. Our Balloon will carry a 2m APRS transmitter operating on 144.390 MHz and will be using the call sign N1FD-11. You can also track our HAB via the Internet using aprsi.fi. We expect our HAB’s flight to last about 2 1/2 hours and reach an altitude of over 105,000 ft. The balloon will also be carrying two video cameras to capture near-space video during the flight.
Students, Teachers, and Club Members came out to participate in the launch and track our HAB. The first step was to move all of our gear to the center of the athletic fields at the school and organize all of our equipment.
Assembled Flight Platform
Next, we attached the GoPro video cameras, satellite tracker, battery pack for the Flight Computer, and a 2m APRS transmitter to the flight platform. We used an APRS-capable HT to confirm that the flight computer and APRS transmitter were working.
Rigging the Flight Line
We rigged the 40 ft. flight line, which connected the HAB’s flight platform, recovery parachute, and balloon.
And then came the inflation of the balloon from the Helium tank. The winds were gusting to about 12 mph, which made inflating the balloon a little tricky. The balloon was about 6 ft. in diameter on the ground when filled.
We were ready to launch with both GoPro cameras running on the flight platform. A 10-second countdown and the balloon was up and away!
Tracking the HAB
We watched the balloon from the ground soaring off into the clouds. The 2M APRS tracking system worked perfectly, and we spent the next several hours at the launch site, at lunch, and in our cars tracking the HAB on aprs.fi.
HAB’s Flight Path On APRS.fi
Our HAB’s flight path took it across Massachusetts, where it reached a maximum altitude of 91,700 ft. above sea level (ASL).
Looking Upward at the Balloon (Near Burst)
The balloon reached a diameter of approximately 30 ft before it burst. After the balloon burst, the parachute deployed, and the payload descended to a landing in the northeast corner of Rhode Island.
HAB at Recovery Site in Rhode Island
A combination of the APRS transmitter data and the onboard sounder allowed the landing location to be pinpointed, and the flight platform recovered with help from a local resident.
The onboard GoPro video cameras captured some awesome video during our HAB’s ascent! All the media captured by everyone who participated in the launch and the APRS data allowed us to produce the video above. Turn up your speakers and give them a play in full-screen mode to enjoy the experience that we shared!
By the time we had launched, the school was at an end, so we will have to wait until the fall to work with the students and teachers who were part of our STEM project to analyze the data from the flight. All in all, our HAB project has been an amazing experience for all involved. We are planning another HAB STEM experience and launch with additional schools in the fall.
We want to especially thank all of our donors whose generous contributions made this project possible.
A plan to build our GoKit came together during our Dayton Hamvention trip this year, and we used it during Field Day.
Kenwood TM-D710GA At Dayton
The heart of any GoKit is the Transceiver. We’ve been using Kenwood equipment for our APRS iGate for some time now, and we have had good results with it. Kenwood’s latest 50W transceiver with APRS is the TM-D710GA. This unit provides full support for APRS tactical applications and now includes a built-in GPS receiver making it ideal for our GoKit application.
We had a chance to look at the iPortable enclosure at Dayton and decided that their Pro 2 4U deep unit would be a good choice for our GoKit application. The iPortable enclosures are based on a portable rack mount case and include a DC power system, speaker and headphone hookups, a light, and provisions for a cooling fan.
With all the components in hand, we began the construction of our GoKit. Reliability is important in any portable system like this, so we put some time into securely mounting all the equipment and neatly arranging the cabling. First came the shelf containing the Kenwood transceiver and a SignaLink USB sound card. A combination of drilling the shelf to secure gear with large cable ties and #8 stainless hardware was used here.
Coax Connector Cables
Our iPortable case was equipped with SO-239 and N-connectors on the front panel to allow antennas and feed lines that use either connector type. To make the changeover between the connector types easy, we installed separate PL-259 jumper cables for each connector. One simply connects the appropriate jumper to the radio.
Display and Power Shelf
The power and AvMap display shelves were next. The AvMap display mount was dissembled and modified to accept a custom mounting bracket.
PWRgate Battery Interface and Charger
The iPortable enclosure was drilled to mount a West Mountain Radio PWRgate to handle backup battery charging and management. The PWRgate supports instantaneous switching between an AC power supply and a backup battery and can accommodate various battery types and sizes.
Diamond X-30 Antenna and Mast for Field Day and EMCOMM
The last piece of the setup was the antenna. We wanted something that was portable, easy to set up for Field Day, and would provide good performance. We choose a Diamond X-30A 2m/70cm ground plane antenna and mounted it on a 12′ fiberglass push-up mast. The feed line is made from 25′ of LMR-400UF coax. Several bungee cords are used to attach the mast to a fence post or other vertical structure.
The picture above shows the completed GoKit in operation. We typically set one side of the Kenwood TM-D710GA as an APRS transceiver and Digipeater and the other to operate on a local repeater or simplex FM. The SignaLink sound card is used with a laptop computer running Fldigi and NBEMS for messaging applications. The iPortable case has a 13.8V lighter socket which connects to a power brick to power our laptop PC.
GoKit Packaged for Transport
The GoKit is quite portable when closed. All of the equipment and cable connections are enclosed and protected by the case’s removable end caps. We’ve tested our GoKit during our club’s weekly repeater net, and it worked great. The first real use of our new GoKit will be at Field Day this year. It will be located in our public information tent and will be used as a “talk-in” system.
Image Taken From Our High-Altitude Balloon at over 90,000 ft
Members of the Nashua Area Radio Club launched a High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) to the edge of space and back this past weekend. Our HAB carried a 2m APRS Transmitter and sent position and atmospheric telemetry to the ground during its flight. Our HAB was tracked by many folks using aprsi.fi during its flight via the N1FD-11 call sign.
You can see an amazing video of the flight, including footage taken during our launch and from the balloon while in flight above.
Our HAB launch was part of a STEM learning project that our club did in partnership with several High Schools in New Hampshire. You can read more about the project and our STEM work on our club’s Blog here.
STEM Learning via a High Altitude Balloon At The Edge Of Space
As some of you may already know, Anita and I have been working with our local Radio Club on a project to promote STEM learning and interest in Amateur Radio among young people in our area. The idea is to work with kids grades 7-12 to plan, build, launch and recover a High-Altitude Balloon carrying Amateur Radio. Our balloon should be able to reach an altitude of about 100,000 ft before it bursts and the payload returns to earth via a parachute system. The payload will include a computer, GPS, and a 2-meter APRS transmitter to record the balloon’s flight track, atmospheric data, and altitude throughout the flight. The balloon will also carry a video camera and will capture a video recording of the entire flight. You can learn more about our project here.
Project Team Members Will Analyze and Report On Scientific Data
We are working with local schools to put together a team of young people to plan and execute our project. This will include designing the onboard science experiments, analyzing the data collected, and providing a presentation about what was learned to fellow students and others.
We are working to raise the necessary funds to enable the project to be completed during the current school year. We have set up a GoFundMe page to facilitate the fundraising aspect of our project. We know that we have many readers around the world who follow our blog and it would be wonderful if some of our readers could help us by contributing to funding our project.
Anita and I will continue to post information about our project here.