EMDRC High Altitude Balloon Launch Prep Session – 31/08/22

The EMDRC team got together on the 31st of August 2022 at 2100 on discord to work through launch preparation activities for the High Altitude Balloon Launch scheduled for the 4th of September 2022, with a backup launch scheduled for the 11th of September (weather, etc.).

The EMDRC (Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club – https://www.emdrc.com.au) High Altitude Balloon (HAB) group has been working towards it’s first launch here in Melbourne. The launch has been almost three years in the making, with COVID being unfortunately responsible for a lot of the delays. The EMDRC HAB group has obtained approval (also called instrument) from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) including approval from the Ararat council for use of use of crown land for purposes of the launch.

The EMDRC HAB Launch prep session for the 31st of August 2022 was attended by –

  1. Rohan A / VK3TRO
  2. Mark / VK3MD
  3. Mark / VK3IRV (Wasn’t able to attend)
  4. Brad Q / VK3BKQ
  5. John / VK3PZ
  6. Mark / VK5QI
  7. Trevor W / VK3TWC
  8. Rory / VK3ASY
  9. Andrew Buttery
  10. Chris Gommersall (Soon to be christened VK3PLS)
  11. Trystan J

The team has shared responsibilities for many of the launch activities. Here’s a view of ownership of the various tasks –

  1. Rohan A / VK3TRO – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
  2. Mark / VK3IRV – Design & build of Yagi antenna + Raspberry Pi to track Wenet and Sonde payload
  3. Brad Q / VK3BKQ – Design & build of Yagi antenna + Raspberry Pi to track Wenet and Sonde payload
  4. Trevor W / VK3TWC – Strategy, logistics, communications, media, etc. + Part of the launch and recovery team
  5. Rory / VK3ASY – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
  6. Greg Boyles – Design & build of the filling apparatus + Part of the launch and recovery team
  7. Chris Gommersall (Soon to be christened VK3PLS) – Design & build of the filling apparatus + Part of the launch and recovery team
  8. Trystan J – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
  9. Andrew B – Part of the launch and recovery team
  10. Mark / VK3MD – Part of the launch and recovery team
  11. John / VK3PZ – Part of the launch and recovery team
  12. Jack B / VK3WWW – Part of the launch and recovery team

Key launch variables include –

  1. Scientific balloon – Hwoyee 500
  2. Parachute – 36 inch spherachute
  3. Gas – Pure helium gas
  4. Payload & radios – Styrofoam box with the following :
    1. Raspberry Pi Zero with a camera
    2. Lora board connected to the Pi Zero W for purposes of streaming images (over Wenet)
    3. 1/4th Ground plane antenna
    4. Re-flashed Bureau of Meteorology Radiosonde (RS41) with the HORUS binary
  5. Launch date – 4th of September with 11th of September 2022 as backup
  6. Launch location – Centenary Park Oval, Ararat
  7. Launch time – 1000 Hrs AEST with recovery to be performed soon after
  8. Frequencies in use –
    1. Wenet (image transmission) frequency : 441.200 Mhz
    2. HORUS (RS 41) frequency : 434.200 Mhz
    3. Simplex for comms – 146.525 Mhz
Preparing for a High Altitude Balloon Launch

This post provides a summary of what was discussed –

  1. The team got together and reviewed the weather forecasts for Sunday the 4th of September including the forecasted wind speeds and the predicted flight path.
  2. The team confirmed that all the launch variables were looking good and we were a go for launch for the 4th of September 2022 (based on the predictions available as of 2100 Hrs on the 31st of August 2022)
  3. Final Go/No-Go scheduled for the 3rd of September at 2100 Hrs on discord.
  4. The team then reviewed the checklists to confirm who was bringing what the launch, Trevor/VK3TWC circulated a worksheet with all the items listed down and individuals who have agreed to bring them along for the launch. Link to the checklist <here>
  5. Mark / VK5QI was present at the session and provided insight on some of the launch variables, levers we had at our disposal in case we need to make last minute alterations.
  6. Trystan confirmed that the additional sensors have now been attached to the payload, will send through pictures on discord so we can all see what the payload now looks like.
  7. The team worked through the launch site arrival time i.e. 0830 on the 4th of September 2022 with filling of gas scheduled to start at 0900 Hrs.
  8. Mark VK5QI suggested that we could use the wenet setup to capture the gas filling process and stream those pictures so members know what’s happening at the launch site.
  9. It was agreed that we would provide updates on discord as we hit milestones during the launch activity.
  10. Trevor / VK3TWC confirmed that CASA approvals were in place, NOTAM’s have been raised, predicted flight path details provided to CASA and Ararat council permission obtained for the morning.
  11. Cars that will be heading to the launch site, then to the landing site – Trevor W / VK3TWC, Rory / VK3ASY, Rohan / VK3TRO
  12. Brad / VK3BKQ intends to setup his Wenet and Sonde monitoring station close to the launch site.
  13. Car that will be heading to the estimated landing zone – Mark / VK3MD, Jack / VK3WWW
  14. Mark / VK3IRV is intending to find a high enough spot where he can setup his Yagi and track the Wenet and HORUS transmission.

Here’s a list of ToDo activities based on the chat we had yesterday –

  1. Greg to bring along PVC glue to CoderDojo Altona North and hand over to Trevor / VK3TWC (Done)
  2. Trevor to send out a notification to EMDRC with a summary of what was discussed, launch details, including the frequencies being used for the HORUS and Wenet payload.
  3. Trevor / VK3TWC to work with CASA, submit notification for NOTAM and work with CASA on any corrections required before making the final NOTAM request on the 25th of August 2022. (Work in progress) – Done
  4. Trevor / VK3TWC to perform modelling using the Balloon Burst Calculator and the Parachute Descent calculator and provide the group a view of the outcomes – Done
  5. Trevor / VK3TWC to work with the Ararat Council and obtain the permissions required for the launch – Done
  6. Trevor / VK3TWC to work generate weather forecasts and landing predictions on a daily basis and send out to the group (In Progress).

Here’s a view of the Balloon Burst Estimator –

High Altitude Balloon (Hwoyee 500) Burst Estimator

Here’s a view of the Parachute Descent Estimator –

High Altitude Balloon – Descent Rate Calculator (Spherachute 36 Inches)

Here’s the predicted weather and flight paths for the launch morning.

Predicted weather conditions for the 4th of Sep 2022
Predicted flight path for the 4th of Sep 22

You are all invited to come, be part of the launch on the 4th of September 2022 at 0930 and then help us chase, recover the payload soon after. The launch site is at Ararat and we will be launching at the agreed time, so plan out your day and set out early if you intend to be there for the launch.

Software you need to track the High Altitude Balloon we are launching.

  1. Project HORUS Chasemapper – Plot your position on a map relative to the balloon using a Raspberry Pi and GPS
  2. Project Horus horusdemodlib – Plot a reprogrammed radiosonde used as a payload for Amateur High Altitude Balloons
  3. Project HORUS Horusgui – Windows software to track a reprogrammed radiosonde used as a payload for Amateur High Altitude Balloons
  4. See images being broadcasted in real-time from the balloon – https://ssdv.habhub.org/
  5. Link to track the Horus payload in real time – Sondehub

Read more about High Altitude Ballooning and get started with your own High Altitude Balloon journey at https://hack2.live/high-altitude-ballooning/

Mark / VK3IRV with his WENET tracking setup outdoors
HORUS payload data being monitored by Brad / VK3BKQ
Images being received by Brad / VK3BKQ over Wenet & Transmitted by Rohan VK3BKQ

Please write to me at trevor at hack2 dot live or hab at emdrc dot com dot au if you have any questions. I’ll do my best to respond.

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