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.
Adrian Lane of Gloucestershire, England, got in touch with the International Space Station the other day. Thanks to impeccable timing and a prime location under the ISS’s path above the Earth, Lane was able to have a brief conversation with space station’s crew via ham radio. It must be surreal to have a casual chat with humans who are floating up there in the void, but technologically, it’s really not even that hard….
This article is a fun read about a man in the U.K. who made a chance contact with an astronaut on the ISS. We are considering working local schools as we did with our HAB project to see if we can secure an ISS contact for a group of local students. If you are interested in working with us on this project, please contact me at via email at [email protected].
John Keslo, W1MBG, Jamey Finchum, KC1ENX, and I recently had the chance to again be part of SPARK Day at the Academy for Science and Design (ASD) in Nashua, New Hampshire. We attended SPARK Day to provide an Introduction to Amateur Radio for the students at ASD. ASD’s goal is to be a world-class school that specializes in science, engineering, mathematics, and design. The school provides education for students in grades 6-12. ASD periodically holds SPARK (Symposium Promoting Advancement of Real-world Knowledge) conferences, which enable ASD students to learn about areas which might help them to develop careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Math (STEM).
The students at ASD are extremely bright and are highly motivated to develop STEM careers. We had about 65 students elect to attend the two sessions that we presented. The kids showed a lot of interested in our presentations and demonstrations.
We also put together an HF GOTA station in the lobby of the school. This gave the kids a chance to get on the air and experience Amateur Radio first hand. After the kids got over the usual “mic-fright”, they had a lot of fun.
We are looking forward to our next opportunity to participate in ASD’s SPARK Day in the fall. This is one of the most enjoyable events of the year for me.
Students, Teachers and Club Members came out to be part of the launch and to track our HAB. The first step was to move all of our gear to the center of the athletic fields at the school and organize all of our equipment.
Next, we attached the GoPro video cameras, satellite tracker and the battery pack for the Flight Computer and 2M APRS transmitter to the flight platform. We used an APRS capable HT to confirm that the flight computer and APRS transmitter were working.
We rigged the 40 ft. flight line which connected the HAB’s flight platform, recovery parachute, and the balloon.
And then came the inflation of the balloon from the Helium tank. The winds were gusting to about 12 mph at this point which made inflating the balloon a little tricky. When filled, the balloon was about 6 ft. in diameter on the ground.
With both GoPro cameras running on the flight platform, we were ready to launch. A 10-second countdown and the balloon was up and away!
We watched the balloon from the ground as it soared off into the clouds. The 2M APRS tracking system worked perfectly and we spent the next several hours at the launch site, at lunch, and in our cars tracking the HAB on aprs.fi.
Our HAB’s flight path took it across Massachusetts where it reached a maximum altitude of 91,700 ft. above sea level (ASL).
The balloon reached a diameter of approximately 30 ft before it burst. After the balloon burst, the parachute deployed and the payload descended to a landing in the northeast corner of Rhode Island.
A combination of the APRS transmitter data and the onboard sounder allowed the landing location to be pinpointed and the flight platform recovered with help from a local resident.
The onboard GoPro video cameras captured some awesome video during our HAB’s ascent! All of the media captured by everyone who participated in the launch as well as the APRS data allowed us to produce the video above. Turn up your speakers and give it a play in full-screen mode to enjoy the experience what we shared!
By the time we had launched, the school year was at an end so we will have to wait until the fall to work with the students and teachers who were part of our STEM project to analyze the data from the flight. All in all, our HAB project has been an amazing experience for all involved. We are planning another HAB STEM experience and launch with additional schools in the fall.
We want to especially thank all of our donors whose generous contributions made this project possible.