Earth from a High Altitude Balloon

How To Track Our High Altitude Balloon

I wanted to share some information about our tracking our High Altitude Balloon as it flies. Our balloon will carry’s a GPS receiver and a 2m APRS Transmitter.

High Altitude Balloon Flight Platform
HAB Flight Platform

The on board APRS transmitter will operate on the Amateur Radio standard terrestrial APRS frequency of 144.390 MHz and will transmit our HAB’s position, heading, speed, altitude and other telemetry data every minute during the HAB’s flight. The transmitter is battery-powered and generates a 250 mW signal into a dipole antenna suspended from the HAB’s flight platform. The HAB will use N1FD-11 as its call sign.

High Altitude Balloon On

The HAB’s APRS packets will be picked up by ground-based Digipeaters and iGates and will be relayed to where the HAB’s current location and flight path can be tracked.  You can click on the link in the previous line to see the HAB’s current location and flight track.

High Altitude Balloon Flight Path Prediction
HAB Flight Path Prediction

Based upon online HAB flight prediction calculators that we have been using, we expect the HAB’s flight to last a little less than 2 1/2 hours. The HAB should reach an altitude of over 102,000 ft before the balloon bursts and the parachute on the flight platform brings it back to the ground at a safe speed. The above prediction will likely change as we get closer to an actual launch but most predictions have our HAB traveling approximately 100 km between its takeoff point and landing.

High Altitude Balloon APRS Packet Information
HAB APRS Packet Information will also store and display a copy of all of the APRS AX.25 packets transmitted by the HAB during its flight. Of particular interest to the STEM element of the flight will be the Balloon’s data on atmospheric temperature and pressure conditions at different altitudes.

All you need to track our HAB during its flight is Internet access and a web browser. Just click on one of the links here to see the HAB’s current location and altitude. If you have an APRS ground station, you may also be able to receive our HAB’s telemetry directly during the flight.

We need cloud cover which is less than 50% and ground wind speeds below 15 mph to launch our HAB. Will will post a final launch date and plans in the Youth Forum on our website. Our next possible launch window is on Saturday, June 3rd. We are all pulling for good weather so that we can launch!

Fred, AB1OC

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