Friday, August 23, 2019

WB8ELK Pico Balloon Forum Talk and Launch at the 2019 Huntsville Hamfest

I attended the Pico Balloon Forum presented by Bill Brown WB8ELK. I already had one of Bill's balloon payloads. The forum was just what I needed to understand the details of prepping the ballon. The balloon is a party type mylar balloon. After the talk, Bill checked the lift of the balloon in the Embassy Suites lobby. Then Bill and Bev WB4ELK launched the balloon successfully in front of the hotel. The payload has the APRS ID WB8ELK-5. APRS tracked the balloon near Chatanooga, across Georgia, South Carolina and out over the Atlantic. The balloon's altitude was up to 27000 feet. It headed up the Eastern Seaboard within range of shore APRS IGates. Eventually, it went out of APRS range presumed to be headed Eastward. We will be checking to see if it is spotted in a few days. Some of the ballons circumnavigate the Earth but there is no guarantee.

Note Bill's QSO Today Podcast interview is Episode 250. It highlights Bill's lifelong interest in Space.

Bill WB8ELK and Bev WB4ELK checking the lift of the Pico Balloon. The net lift is the weight of a penny.

I have not finalized the launch window for my payload. I will look into piggybacking some STEM activities the SEARS Rocket Club is doing. The rocket launch site in Samson, AL may be a good place to launch. The payload itself is an engineering marvel. It is solar-powered has a single circuit board with a 20 milliwatt transmitter and GPS. The payload is very light as required for a pico balloon launch. Bill has done the engineering I just have to prep and launch.