Tag Archives: High Altitude Balloon

Students Analyze HAB-2’s Flight Data

The HAB team members in NARS have created a five-session curriculum to teach physics, atmospheric science, and radio technology that we use as part of our HAB launches. The last session is the most fun of all – analyzing the telemetry data from our HAB’s flight to see what the students can learn from it.

High-ALtitude Balloon Data Analysis
HAB-2 Flight Data Analysis

Our students at Bishop-Guertin High School that participated in our High-Altitude Balloon 2  launch this past weekend got together to analyze HAB-2’s flight data.  All of our students tracked HAB-2 using APRS.fi and were excited about the HAB’s flight and final altitude of almost 118,000 ft!

Flight Path

We began by reviewing our flight predictions and expectations for atmospheric conditions that we covered in our previous classroom sessions. You can see the materials that the students worked from via the preceding link. Also, the full set of data from HAB-2’s flight computer can be viewed as well.

HAB-2 Predicted Flight Path
HAB-2 Predicted Flight Path

We began by comparing the predicted flight path with the actual data from the APRS system on HAB-2.

HAB-2 Actual Flight Path
HAB-2 Actual Flight Path

The students concluded that the shape and direction of the predicted and actual paths matched quite well giving us confidence in the path modeling software.

Balloon Performance

Balloon Performance Calculator
Balloon Performance Calculator

They also noted the HAB-2’s ascent took longer and went much higher than the Balloon Calculator we had used predicted. After some thought, one of the students observed: “maybe we did not put enough helium in the balloon”.  This tuned out to be correct. We checked the scale that we used to set HAB-2’s lift with calibrated weights and we found an error in the scale’s calibration that led us to put about 200 g less lift (less Helium) in the balloon than our model required. We also used the same scale to weight the flight platform. These errors would certainly account for the higher altitude and long ascent times that we experienced.

Temperature and Pressure

High-Altitude Balloon Data Aalysis
GoPro Camera Early Shutoff vs. Temperature (click to enlarge)

The students also looked at the pressure and temperature data from the flight. The pressure was about what was expected but the students noticed that HAB-2 had flown through some temperatures as low as -70° F! The discussion turned to the question of why our video cameras had stopped recording at almost exactly the same time – 53 mins into the flight. An examination of our temperature data gave as a probable answer: the temperature took a dip to -50°F about the time that the GoPro video cameras shut off! Their LiPo batteries are only rated to about -40°F. We concluded that we’d need to find a way to keep the camera batteries warm during our next flight.

Other Questions

High-Altitude Balloon Data Analysis
High-Altitude Balloon Data Analysis Questions

The students discussed some additional questions and previewed some raw video from the flight and the recovery included a flight path simulation created by Wayne, AG1A.

HAB-2 Open House

Amatuer Radio Open House
Amateur Radio Open House

We are planning an open house for the students at our QTH to wrap up the project and to preview the final light video. Members of NARS are welcome to join us for the open house. You can find more information about it here.

I especially want to thank all of the NARS members who worked to prepare for and assist the students with HAB-2:

Without our HAB team, HAB-2 and the STEM learning experience that it provided would not have been possible. Thank you all for helping us to create a positive STEM learning experience through Amateur Radio.

Fred, AB1OC

HAB-2 Sets Altitude Record!

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.

High-Altitude Balloon 2 Actual Flight Path
High-Altitude Balloon 2 Actual Flight Path

Our students and many Hams were able to track HAB-2 during its flight via APRS. HAB-2’s actual flight path prediction matched our modeling quite well.

High-Altitude Balloon 2 Predicted Flight Path
High-Altitude Balloon 2 Predicted Flight Path

The direction and shape of the path were almost the same as what our model predicted but the flight took longer and went higher than we expected.

High-Altitude Balloon Altitude Record
High-Altitude Balloon 2’s Balloon Burst Altitude

We broke our previous altitude record by A LOT! The balloon burst west of Rochester, NH at just short of 118,000 ft! HAB-2’s final altitude was about 400 ft higher than the last APRS burst shown above. This is more the 25,000 ft higher than our last flight!

HAB-2 Water Landing in Maine
HAB-2 Water Landing in Maine

HAB-2 landed in a pond in Maine. Our floatation system worked well – it kept most of the electronics dry and prevented HAB-2 from sinking.

HAB-2's Water Recovery in Maine
HAB-2’s Water Recovery in Maine

Fortunately, Jamey, KC1ENX and Curtis, N1CMD had Jamey’s kayak and were able to retrieve HAB-2. The equipment was wet but appears to be in good working condition. We have all of the telemetry data from HAB-2’s flight.

Due to a glitch at launch, the platform flew on its side for the entire flight and the cameras shut off early due to some unusually cold conditions (-70° F) that HAB-2 encountered during its flight. We did get some video from the first 50 minutes of the flight. More pictures and video to come later.

Our students will be getting together later this week to analyze the data from HAB-2’s flight. We are also planning an Amateur Radio open house for them on Sunday, Nov. 12th at our QTH.

Congratulations to our students and to our HAB Team for another successful flight!

 Fred, AB1OC

HAB-2 Launch This Saturday – How To Track Our High-Altitude Balloon

We are planning the second launch of our High-Altitude Balloon (HAB-2) this Saturday, October 28th at approximately 11 am ET.

You can view the story of our first launch here on our website and you can view the video from our first High-Altitude Balloon launch above.

High-Altitude Balloon Launch Site and Weather

The weather and Jetstream conditions look good for our HAB-2 launch!

High-Altitude Balloon 2 Launch Site in Winchester NH
HAB-2 Launch Site in Winchester NH

We will be launching from the school in Winchester, NH at around 11 am ET. Nashua Area Radio Society members and friends are invited to join us for our launch.

High-Altitude Balloon 1 Launch!
HAB-1 Launch!

We have been working with the STEM club at Bishop-Guertin HS here in Nashua, NH. The students will handle HAB-2 launch preparations and the launch. Launch preparations will begin on site at 9:30 am ET.

WInchester NH Weather Forecast for Launch
Winchester NH Weather Forecast for Launch

The weather forecast looks great for our launch on Saturday with clear skies and moderate winds. These conditions should enable us to capture some spectacular video from HAB-2 during its flight!

Tracking HAB-2

I wanted to share some information about tracking our HAB-2 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 onboard 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 HAB-2’s flight. The transmitter is battery-powered and generates a 250 mW signal into a dipole antenna suspended from HAB’-2s flight platform. HAB-2 will use N1FD-11 as its call sign.

High-Altitude Balloon On Aprs.fi
HAB-2 On Aprs.fi

HAB-2’s APRS packets will be picked up by ground-based Digipeaters and iGates and will be relayed to aprs.fi where the HAB’s current location and flight path can be tracked.  You can click on the link in the previous line to see HAB-2’s current location and flight track.

High-Altitude Balloon 2 Flight Path Projection
HAB-2 Flight Path Projection

Based upon online HAB flight prediction calculators that we have been using, we expect the HAB’s flight to last a little more than 2 1/2 hours. The HAB should reach an altitude of over 105,000 ft before the balloon bursts and the parachute on the flight platform brings HAB-2 back to the ground at a safe speed. The above predictions will likely somewhat different from HAB-2’s actual flight path. Based upon the predictions, HAB-2 will be traveling approximately 100 km between its takeoff point and landing near Maine.

High-Altitude Balloon APRS Packet Information
HAB APRS Packet Information

Aprs.fi will store and display a copy of all of the APRS AX.25 packets transmitted by HAB-2 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 HAB-2 during its flight is Internet access and a web browser. Just click on one of the aprs.fi links here to see HAB-2’s current location and altitude. If you have an APRS ground station, you may also be able to receive HAB-2’s telemetry directly during the flight.

We will post updates on launch plans and the flight in the Youth Forum on our website.

T minus 1 day and counting until HAB-2 launches….

We have launched! Your can Track HAB-2 on apris.fi using the call sign N1FD-11.

 

Fred, AB1OC

Sharing Our Club’s Activities at Boxboro Hamvention 2017

We had the good fortune of attending and speaking at the Boxboro Hamvention this past weekend. We shared three presentations related to our club’s activities and projects. I wanted to share copies of these presentations here.

All of these presentations were well attended. In particular, there was great interest in the second presentation among other clubs in the New England area.

Also, we are planning to have our 2.0 Satellite Station setup at our upcoming Technician License Class on Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. If you are in the area and would like to see the station in operation, please contact us at [email protected]  to arrange for a visit. If you’d like to register for one of our license classes, you can do that here.

Videos from our Boxboro Hamvention Presentations

Our High-Altitude Balloon Launch Video

Growing HAM Radio – How Clubs Can Help

Satellite Station 2.0 Operation and Contacts



More Information

You can find more information about our HAB Project via this link. Also, you can learn more about our club’s portable satellite station activities via this link. Finally, you can visit Anita’s and My Station Project Blog for more articles and information about Satellite Station construction and operation.

Fred, AB1OC