Z Log 7 flight computers now available

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Late last year we reported that the popular flight computer for high altitude balloons, the Z Log 7 was being updated. The new versions of the Z Log 7 are now available for order

http://www.hexpertsystems.com/zlog/Z7/
http://www.hexpertsystems.com/order.html

The first version of this board was a nice and simple flight computer which, unlike it’s competitors, had a visual display and a cut down board option. The new version uses a lot of the same technology but it far more robust and well built.

Update from Boomerang

In late 2014 we brought you news of a small tech startup from Oregon USA. They were developing an interactive gas vent called Boomerang

boomerang

Mark from Boomerang has been kind enough to give us an update on how their product is progressing. Mark said,

“In January we have showed the Boomerang at Academy of Model Aeronautics expo in LA.  It’s an expo for RC airplanes and helicopters and the like. Boomerang got a really good reception from government and academic parties. We showed off the Generation 3 system, show here in a video

In February we did a very brief flight to 15km with the final 3rd Gen configuration of Boomerang.  It was a shakedown flight of technologies that we’ve incorporated and an operational exercise of our Mission Control Station software with enhanced situational awareness tools. We’ve added to Boomerang something we are calling a Passive Parachute Deployment System. We have also added a fill/vent interface called an Inflation Module. You can check out some pictures of the test flight at

https://twitter.com/sw_sdt

https://www.linkedin.com/company/swsdt

For reference the height of Gen 3 Boomerang stack was approximately 500 mm tall and the mass without ballast was approximately 1 kg.  We flew with about 600 g of sand ballast.

Data collected during the flight has given us enough confidence to start work on the 4th Generation system.  This will be baseline version we ship to customers, hopefully in late spring/early summer.  “

Boomerang are currently running two promotions. First there is a competition to win a flight on Boomerang. All you have to do is explain to Boomerang your payload and mission goals.

http://swsdt.com/products/fly-payload-boomerang-contest/

Then there is the ‘Let us know what you will do with a complete High-Altitude Latex Balloon Altitude Control System’ competition.

http://swsdt.com/products/will-boomerang-contest/

Boomerang seem to be making good progress on bringing their product to market and we hope to see a commercial version in 2015.

GEEK payload found

geek payload

The GEEK payload has been found and recovered by Frank and Brigitte Vanneste who live near Brugge.

Brecht Vanneste takes up the story for her parents,

“It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon so my parents went out for a walk in the fields.
Around 15.30 P.M. they saw a black and yellow object attached to a parachute in the middle of a field.
At first they thought it was a weather balloon, but a closer look revealed a camera and a return note, so they decided to take it home and ask me about it.

A quick look on the internet revealed that it was launched on the GEEK event yesterday.
We were very excited to find out it came all the way from Kent. As we watched the videos, we were astonished at the height the balloon traveled! We read it could reach heights of 30 km, amazing!

It was a very special feeling to know that we were the first people watching these videos. ”

Here are a few images already captured by the camera.

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Social Searching takes off at GEEK 2015

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The Social Searching game at GEEK 2015 has started. The stratospheric capsule was launched on a high altitude balloon today at 11:57am from the GEEK festival site at the winter Gardens in Margate. Anyone can now play the Social Searching game. You don’t have to have been to the GEEK festival and it costs nothing to play. All you have to do is get someone to pick up the payload which landed close to Bruges, Belgium and return it to GEEK.

Here is the SPOT tracker map showing where the payload is:

http://www.geek-play.com/geek-balloon-tracker.html

or http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0iI4rqVCIuT3WRqjXlJIq25VM0hFqWpiD

for the original URL. If you can get someone to return it to GEEK at

Kate Kneale
Marine Studios
17 Albert Terrace
Margate, Kent
CT9 1UJ
United Kingdom

Then you will win the grand GEEK prize!

Change to rules in Germany for HAB flights

Since 5th December 2014 a new rule has come into force (SERA-Verordnung) governing HAB flights following the unification of European air law.

Before that date, a HAB flight (Ballon mass < 4 kg) had to be announced to the air traffic control authorities (DFS) indicating launch location, time, balloon details (weight etc.), availability of insurance. Normally, they granted a permission and NOTAM without charging any fee within less then 2 weeks.

The process of getting a permission has changed. The new process is split into 2 phases. The first is called the “Landesluftfahrtbehörde”.

This means you have to provide

- a form sheet describing the details of the launch (e.g. location, including access routes for ambulances, expected number of visitors, etc.)
- a written agreement of the land owner allowing the launch;
- a written agreement of the town
- description of the balloon
and some more.
These documents have to be submitted to the aviation authorities (“Luftamt”) which will evaluate the request (minimum 2 weeks needed) and which will eventually provide a permission charging 40 EUR.

Once permission is obtained in this stage then you have to contact the air traffic control station (DFS) to get further approval from them.
This is the theory. Many German HAB enthusiasts have commented that the Landesluftfahrtbehörden have no idea how to handle the requests as it is a completely new responsibility to them.

There also seems to be regional variation in how the rules are applied. Some teams from North Rhine-Westphalia describe the old rules still being valid. Other teams from different regions say that the rules are enforced. Information on how the local rules are applied may be found from http://www.lba.de/DE/Presse_POE/Landesluftfahrtbeh%C3%B6rden/A_Z_Landesluftfahrtbehoerden.html

There are plans to re-establish the old rules providing a general permit to launch weather balloons (m < 4kg) only needing the permission from DFS; however, given the usual delays of big government authorities, this may take some time. We will post any more news when we get it. There are also lively discussions on this topic at the UKHAS messaging board and GSBC web forum.

kickstarter Rockzip to stop trading

Kickstarter Rockzip, who aimed to produce high quality and high volume super pressure balloons is to stop trading after accepting that the current balloon market is not ready for their product. In a message to backers, the team said that they were disappointed that they could not compete with the established latex balloon market but hoped to produce super pressure balloons some time in the unspecified future. Backers who gave money to the kick starter campaign as to still be given a gift and have been given a choice as to what they want. This ranges from a commemorative coin , to fleece jacket , and a one off production run of the high balloons. Balloon News urges backers to go for the balloon option so all the backers can at least experience some of the balloon that was promised. We will update the story as and when we get news.

GEEK 2015 flight with ‘Social Searching’ gets the go ahead.

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The Balloon News HAB flight at GEEK 2015 flight with ‘Social Searching’ has been given CAA clearance to go ahead.

Social Searching is a game to recover a HAB payload launched at the GEEK festival, using social networks. GEEK has now launched the competition web site and is signing up for participation in the game. Balloon forecasts will be posted on the site from Friday 13th February.