The EMDRC (Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club – https://www.emdrc.com.au) High Altitude Balloon team got together on the 2nd of November 2022 at 2100 on discord to work through final preparation activities for the upcoming launch. The EMDRC High Altitude Balloon team have locked in the 6th of November 2022 for our next launch, with a backup launch scheduled for the 13th of November (weather, etc.). The EMDRC High Altitude Balloon group have obtained approval (also called flight instrument) from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) for the launch, including approval from the Ararat council to use crown land for purposes of the launch.
The EMDRC (Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club – https://www.emdrc.com.au) High Altitude Balloon (HAB) have conducted their first High Altitude Balloon launch on the 4th of September, from Ararat, Victoria. For a detailed launch report please visit – <EMDRC High Altitude Balloon Launch Report – 4th September 2022>.
Key Dates – So here are the key dates for the upcoming EMDRC High Altitude Balloon Launch.
23rd of Oct 22 – HAB barbecue and payload build at EMDRC clubhouse (1100 – 1300 Hrs) 28th Oct 22 – Launch Prep session at 2100 Hrs (on Discord)
- 5th Nov – Launch Go/No-Go at 1900 Hrs (on Discord)
- 6th Nov – Launch from Centenary Park, Ararat at 1000 Hrs [Reporting time is 0830 Hrs]
Who’s Who in the Zoo – The EMDRC High Altitude Launch team includes includes :
- Rohan VK3TRO
- Mark VK3MD
- Mark VK3IRV
- Brad VK3BKQ
- John VK3PZ
- Mark VK5QI
- Trevor VK3TWC
- Trystan J
- Rory VK3ASY
- Chris VK3PLS
- Greg Boyles
- Andrew Lee
- Andrew VK3BQ
- Nathan VK3DNS
- John VK3WWW
We are always looking to take on capable individuals to support design, build, launch of the payload. Please drop us a note if you are interested and we’ll help you get started.
Payload design & Build – Here’s an update on the approach, design and build of the payload for the upcoming launch.
- The primary payload for the upcoming launch will include a re-programmed RS41 sonde running the HORUS binary.
- The primary payload will include a Raspberry Pi Zero / LoRA module running the WENET software.
- This capability will allow us to take pictures using the Raspberry Pi camera (as the balloon ascends, descends) and stream them down to earth using the WENET software.
- A copy of the pictures are stored on the Raspberry Pi Zero and we are hoping to retrieve them at the end of the flight.
- Trystan has run a few tests based on the learning from the last launch to test out our hypothesis.
- The intention of the testing was to perform root cause analysis and confirm the reason for the Raspberry Pi Zero freezing during ascent, turning on just before landing.
- Trystan put a running Raspberry Pi Zero along with the SD card into a freezer pushing down the temperature to ~-18 DegC. Both the Raspberry Pi Zero and the SD card survived the ordeal, kept running after it was taken out of the freezer.
- The outcome of the testing proved in-conclusive. We do not know for sure what cause the main Raspberry Pi Zero payload to fail last launch.
- However this launch we have followed Mark VK5QI’s suggestion around building our own payload boxes, hoping that temperature inside the boxes remain stable and we don’t have a repeat of the payload issues we saw last launch.
- The kids at Coderdojo Altona North have built a Data Logger based on the Raspberry Pi Pico and a PiicoDev BME280 sensor from Core Electronics. These will form the secondary payload for the launch.
- Two teams of kids at CodeDojo Altona North worked feverishly on building their own Raspberry Pi Pico based Data logger.
- Two of these data logger modules are being sent up with the High Altitude Balloon.
- This launch is funded as a science experiment through a grant from the Hobsons Bay City Council.
- The kids have tested out their code for the Raspberry Pi Pico and the PiicoDev BME280 on a breadboard. The code is designed to poll the PiicoDev BME280 for temperature, humidity, pressure data and log all of that information to a file every 10 seconds.
- Greg Boyles who also happens to be a volunteer at CoderDojo Altona North, has helped build two protoboards with the Pi Pico and the PiicoDev BME280 mounted on it.
- Trevor VK3TWC along with his group of volunteers at CoderDojo Altona North supported the kids with the build of the data logger payload.
- John VK3PZ worked with the EMDRC committed and helped procure a heated wire cutter machine, based on guidance from Mark VK5QI.
- The EMDRC High Altitude Balloon team had a working barbecue session, worked through the payload build activities, cut the styrofoam into relevant sizes. These styrofoam pieces will be used to build the boxes and secure each of the payloads.
Key launch variables include –
- Scientific balloon – Hwoyee 1000
- Parachute – 21 inch spherachute
- Gas – Pure helium gas
- Weight of payload – ~750 gm (to be confirmed)
- Pi Zero W with camera, LoRA board and batteries – 250gm for pi
- Reprogrammed RS 41 radio sonde with batteris -95gm
- 21inch Spherachute – 55gm
- Data Logger1 (Pi Pico with PiicoDev BME280) – 225g
- Data Logger2 (Pi Pico with PiicoDev BME280) – 125g
- Ascent rate – 6 m/s
- Descent rate – 6.45 m/s
- Burst Altitude – ~33Km
- Payload & radios – Styrofoam box with the following :
- Raspberry Pi Zero with a camera
- Lora board connected to the Pi Zero W for purposes of streaming images (over Wenet)
- 1/4th Ground plane antenna
- Re-flashed Bureau of Meteorology Radiosonde (RS41) with the HORUS binary
- 2 x Data Logger Modules : Raspberry Pi Pico with PiicoDev BME280 sensors
- Launch date – 6th of November with 13th of November 2022 as backup
- Launch location – Centenary Park Oval, Ararat
- Launch time –
- 1000 Hrs AEST with recovery to be performed soon after.
- Reporting time is 0830 Hrs AEST.
- Frequencies in use –
- Wenet (image transmission) frequency : 441.200 Mhz
- HORUS (RS 41) frequency : 434.200 Mhz
- 2m Repeater Ararat for local comms (91.5Mhz CTCSS, +600 Offset)– 147.100 Mhz
- Frequencies for monitoring (NO TRANSMISSION ALLOWED)-
- YARA (Ararat Aerodrome) CTAF for monitoring prior to release of balloon – 126.7 Mhz
- YARA (Ararat Aerodrome) Melbourne FSS (Melbourne Center) for monitoring prior to release of balloon – 126.8 Mhz
Bill Of Material – Here’s the Bill of Material of all the items that go into build of the payload.
- 1 x Hwoyee 1000 Balloon
- 1 x Parachute 24 inch spherachute
- 1 x E Type Helium Gas Bottle
- 1 x Foam cutter
- 1 x Module LORA board
- 1 x Pi zero W + Pi camera x 1 (medium size cable with camera)
- 1 x GPS unit for use with the Pi Zero W
- 2 x Data Logger – Pi Pico with PiicoDev BME280
- 3 x Energizer batteries (pack of 4)
- 1 x Sandisk high endurance SD card 32GB
- 2 x Scotch extreme strapping tape (Officeworks)
- 3 x Polystyrene (Clark rubber) sheet 1 inch
- 2 x Bare double sided general purpose tape (Bunnings)
Roles & Responsibilities – The team has shared responsibilities for many of the launch activities. Here’s a view of ownership of the various tasks –
- Rohan VK3TRO – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Rory VK3ASY – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Trystan J – Payload design & build + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Mark VK3IRV – Design & build of Yagi antenna and Raspberry Pi setup to track Wenet and Sonde payload + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Brad VK3BKQ – Design & build of Yagi antenna and Raspberry Pi setup ro track Wenet and Sonde payload+ Part of the launch and recovery team
- Greg Boyles – Design & build of the filling apparatus + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Chris VK3PLS – Design & build of the filling apparatus + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Andrew B – Part of the launch and recovery team
- Andrew Lee – Official EMDRC HAB Photographer + Part of the launch and recovery team
- Mark VK3MD – Part of the launch and recovery team
- John VK3PZ – Part of the launch and recovery team
- Jack B VK3WWW – Part of the launch and recovery team
- Andrew VK3BQ + VK3EEK + VK3DNS – Part of the launch and recovery team
- Mark VK5QI – Mentor & Guide
- Trevor VK3TWC – Strategy, logistics, communications, media, etc. + Part of the launch and recovery team
Come Join the Party – You are invited to join the EMDRC High Altitude Balloon group and help out with the launch prep activities. You are welcome to drive down, be part of the launch activities on the 6th of November 2022 at Ararat and then join us for the chase, payload recovery soon after. The launch site is at Ararat which is a ~2.5 hr drive from the heart of Melbourne and we intend to launch at the agreed time of 1000 Hrs, so plan out your day and set out early if you intend to be there for the launch. Reporting time for launch prep kick off is 0830 Hrs on the 6th of November 2022.
If you would rather stay home or rather grab a coffee and track the payload remotely then that’s great too. Here’s links to the software you need to track the High Altitude Balloon and payload we are launching.
- Project HORUS Chasemapper – Plot your position on a map relative to the balloon using a Raspberry Pi and GPS
- Project Horus horusdemodlib – Plot a reprogrammed radiosonde used as a payload for Amateur High Altitude Balloons
- Project HORUS Horusgui – Windows software to track a reprogrammed radiosonde used as a payload for Amateur High Altitude Balloons
- See images being broadcasted in real-time from the balloon – https://ssdv.habhub.org/
- 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/. Drop us a note at trevor at hack2 dot live if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.