Success!!!! (Mostly)

A project log for Solar Eclipse High Altitude Balloon

Boulder's makerspace, Solid State Depot, is launching a high-altitude balloon in Wyoming during the Aug 21, 2017 eclipse.

Dan Julio 08/24/2017 at 00:060 Comments

It flew, it recorded, it transmitted and we got it back.  This log is just some of the pictures of our team's activity for the day.  Next post will be pictures from the cameras.  Subsequent posts will include some more detail about what worked, what didn't and what we learned.  We're also creating some videos that we'll post.

Launch Team southwest of Shoshoni, WY

Tim and Bryan filling the balloon.

Prepping the payload (turning stuff on and starting the hand-warmers).

Launch in progress.

Up, up and away.

Launch site LoRa receiver (handheld radios + APRSdroid were used to receive APRS - at least in the beginning).

LoRa display (Dave Akerman's lora-gateway and lcars programs on a Pi).  Andrew built the cardboard light shield so the display could be made out.  That's a downloaded SSDV image with some missing packets.

LoRa antenna on a very obliging Wyoming friend's house in Casper.  Pi-based receiver was powered by the 12V battery and connected to my setup in the house via WiFi.  I started getting packets in Casper about an hour after launch and between the two receivers, we monitored the entire flight, which was lucky because we had misconfigured the APRS and stopped logging our APRS packets after the balloon reached a certain altitude.

The flight as recorded on (thanks to Chrobi's hacked Pi+cell modem, the launch team had a cellular hotspot and could log the start of the flight and then I logged the end of it from Casper.  KE0FZV-11 is the APRS log before they stopped recording us (we configured our tracksoar to allow digipeaters which is illegal for airborne packets).

Google earth plot of the balloon path.  I'll add the kmz file to our files.

The recovery team (Sarah and her family, including two very adventerous kids, plus Bob and Kate) found the payload about 5 miles off of I-25 north of Casper.  We had a general location from a final LoRa packet received about 700 feet off the ground.  They had their 2M radios on and heard the APRS radio but APRSdroid wouldn't decode any of them until it finally did and led them right to the balloon.

The aftermath.  The payload actually survived in pretty good condition.  I had worried, based on watching the rapidly decreasing altitude after the balloon burst, that the parachute had gotten tangled up.  It did hit hard enough to break the box and crash all three on-board raspberry Pi's - one of which ended up with a corrupted filesystem and loss of all video stored on it.