SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Thursday, August 12, 2021

My APRS Pico Balloon Flight, July 2021

I launched a pico balloon from Oklahoma on July 20th, 2021. It carried a Skytracker payload developed by Bill Brown, WB8ELK. I got APRS reports from it for ten days. The SSID was N4KGL-11. It cruised above 28,000 feet and gave us much entertainment. Boy, this pico balloon flight was fun!

The launch was over Keystone Lake at Keystone State Park, Oklahoma

The ten-day flight started in Oklahoma did a trip to Mexico and back, then to the Gulf of Mexico, and was last heard from in Colorado. 

This is the solar-powered Skytacker payload developed by Bill WB8ELK It only weighs 12 grams.

The balloon Bill supplied was similar to a party balloon. It was underinflated intentionally. I used a party tank of helium from Walmart. It had about three grams of free lift beyond the weight of the payload. 

A short launch video.

Here is a recorded talk for Beginner's Academy. I gave about the experience.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Our Month-Long Camping and Ham Radio Adventure, July 2021

Linda, Suzy, and I took a month-long camping adventure that was a mash-up of camping, family, sightseeing, and ham radio. The primary motivation was to visit relatives in Kansas and Oklahoma. We camped in a 24-foot travel trailer. All our stops were at state parks. I planned the stops to be a little over two hundred miles apart to make the travel not so taxing. Of course, this was a great opportunity to activate each state park on the journey for the Parks On The Air (POTA) program.

I really had to make some choices among my rigs and antennas. Even the weight of the ham gear becomes a factor when towing a trailer. I choose the Icom 705 for QRP with an option to use the Elecraft KXPA100 to get to 100 watts. The antennas were the Alexloop mag loop, SOTABeams Band Hopper link dipole, and the N6BT Bravo 7K vertical. With this gear, I could pick and choose based and the time and space I had at each campsite. 

The 100-watt setup at Lake Lurleen State Park in Alabama

POTA is one of my favorite portable outdoor activities. I had a great time activating the state parks. I did thirteen activations among the nine state park stops for 482 contacts total. The POTA hunters were very appreciative of my activations. I appreciate their help. 

My POTA Activations

I was also chased by ham friends from Florida, Canada, and Colorado.

Contacts with friends via Ham Radio

Along the way, I operated in the Summer RaDAR Challenge from Stockton State Park Missouri, 

and the Flight of the Bumblebees from Keystone State Park, Oklahoma. 

The highlight of the trip was launching an APRS pico-balloon payload from Oklahoma. I tracked it on APRS for ten days. I'll do a separate post with the details.

Our goal was met with a week's stop in both Kansas and Oklahoma for visiting relatives. Linda and I also visited Elvis's Birthplace in Tupelo, Missippii, and his Graceland home in Memphis. We enjoyed the Museum of the Automobile next to Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas.

A view of Lake Bailey at Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Linda on the porch swing at Elvis's birthplace home in Tupelo, Missippii

Suzy had many walks to meet and greet other campers. She also claimed the bed and the couch in the trailer as hers.

Suzy in the trailer


Linda and Greg