Happy new year and welcome to 2023 : A big thanks to everyone within the EMDRC (Eastern & Mountain District Radio Club) & MRPMG (Melbourne Raspberry Pi Makers Group) High Altitude Balloon Initiative for their support, participation through 2022. It’s been humbling to see members from different backgrounds, each with their own strengths, come to the table to support the High Altitude Balloon design, build, launch activities. It’s an honor to be able to bring such an awesome community of makers, tinkerers, creators, amateur radio enthusiasts together as part of the High Altitude Balloon initiative. Wishing everyone a wonderful 2023, looking forward to many more launches together with the team.
Recap of our experiences, lessons learned during 2022 : The group has held its CASA instrument (permission to launch High Altitude Balloons) for ~2 years now. We’ve been able to launch, retrieve two High Altitude Balloons from Ararat. You can check out the launch reports for both the launches at the following links –
- Launch on the 4th of September using the Hwoyee 600 with a burst altitude of ~30Km
- Launch on the 6th of Nov 2022 using the Totex 100 with a burst altitude of ~16 Km
We have had some interesting challenges along the way, technical issues with our Raspberry Pi based payload on our first launch, technical challenges with the balloon on the second launch that almost caused us to scrap an entire launch, etc. However the group worked together to overcome each of the challenges and ensure that team were able to launch, track, chase and recover the payload at the end of each of the flights. Each of the flights so far have presented their own unique challenges, offering fantastic learning opportunities to us as a team. We were tested on both the technical and non technical fronts on a number of occasions during the design, build, launch process. A great learning STEM opportunity for everyone indeed and humbling to see the team pull together to get us the expected outcomes.
Launch roadmap for 2023 : Our roadmap for 2023 is looking like the following –
- February 2023 [Launch Command : Andrew VK3BQ, Logistics, Permissions, Planning : Trevor VK3TWC / Chris VK3PLS]
- Launch Prep Kick off – 29th Jan 2023
- Launch Go/No Go – 19th Feb 2023
- Launch – 12th Feb 2023
- May 2023 [Launch Command : Brad VK3BKQ, Logistics, Permissions, Planning : Trevor VK3TWC / Chris VK3PLS]
- Launch Prep Kick off – 30th April 2023
- Launch Go/No Go – 13th May 2023
- Launch – 14th May 2023
- August 2023 [Launch Command : Andrew VK3BQ, Logistics, Permissions, Planning : Trevor VK3TWC / Chris VK3PLS]
- Launch Prep Kick off – 30th July 2023
- Launch Go/No Go – 12th Aug 2023
- Launch – 13th Aug 2023
- Nov 2023 [Launch Command : Brad VK3BKQ, Logistics, Permissions, Planning : Trevor VK3TWC / Chris VK3PLS]
- Launch Prep Kick off – 29th October 2023
- Launch Go/No Go – 11th Nov 2023
- Launch – 12th Nov 2023
These dates are tentative and the schedule for each of the launches will be confirmed closer to the date. Please join us on discord at the #High Altitude Balloon Channel and tell us which part of the design, build, launch activities you are keen to be part of. You can access our discord server here – https://discord.gg/4FkrKJeNt5.
Here’s some of the key activities we will be planning to take up through 2023.
- Design, build and launch our own custom Raspberry Pi CM4 based payload
- Launch the Raspberry Pi Pico based payload designed by the kids, volunteers at CoderDojo Altona North
- Introduce additional sensors in the payload e.g. 6 axis motion detection, etc.
Who’s Who in the Zoo – The High Altitude Balloon team has grown over the last year and some of the active members include :
- Rohan VK3TRO
- Mark VK3MD
- Mark VK3IRV
- Brad VK3BKQ
- John VK3PZ
- Mark VK5QI
- Trevor VK3TWC
- Tom VK3FTOM
- Trystan J
- Rory VK3ASY
- Chris VK3PLS
- Greg Boyles
- Andrew Lee
- Andrew VK3BQ
- Nathan VK3DNS
- Toby VK3TOS
- John VK3WWW
- Pete V
Be part of an exciting journey : Everyone is invited to join the MRPMG & EMDRC High Altitude Balloon group and participate in the next year’s High Altitude Balloon Launch activities. There’s a lot of interesting design, build, test activities to be performed before the launch. If you have the interest, keen to pick up skills in electronics, designing / testing / debugging, high altitude balloon launch and recovery, keen to learn more about Software Defined Radios, or gain hands on experience setting up and launching custom Raspberry Pi payloads into the stratosphere then join us on discord and drop us a line.
This is an amazing opportunity so help shape the next generation High Altitude Balloon payload, test the payload to get it ready for the next launch, be part of the launch team helping launch the balloon and finally join everyone for the chase, payload recovery soon after. Our agreed launch site is at Ararat which is a ~2.5 hr drive from the heart of Melbourne with our launches generally scheduled for 1000 Hrs on the day of the launch.
However, 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
- All of the images are broadcasted in real-time from the balloon (over WENET) – 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/. Seasons greeting to everyone and a Happy New Year to you. Drop us a note at trevor at hack2 dot live if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.