New web site facilitates social media sharing of balloon flights

A developer from America has developed a new web site called to facilitate the social media sharing of high altitude balloon flights. The new web site uses API to make the connection. here is Don explaining his new web site.

What is an API? An API is a software intermediary that makes it possible for application programs to interact with each other and share data.

Using WorldTrack.Me’s API, the user can create their own applications that can interface with the website and add GeoPosts automatically. For instance, a programmer can write an android application to post the location of a user once every hour. The user could then link the Track to Facebook or another social media site. The possibilities are almost endless, and it is up to the imagination of the programmer and users to come up with innovative usage ideas.

To interface with the API the user needs the following information: latitude, longitude, altitude, group number, and API Key (Group Number and API Key are found on the Track’s Homepage if you are an Admin of the Track). Optional fields include title, description, and marker type. The user can either interface with WorldTrack.Me by using a POST or GET Method, although the POST Method is recommended since it is considered more secure. (See: Post Vs Get Method)

To use the GET Method use the following Link:
To use the POST Method use the following Link:

An example of the GET Method is below: Balloon Point&description=This is a fix of the Weather Balloon

The POST Method accepts the same parameters as the GET Method.

Below is an example of using WorldTrack.Me’s API:
Weather Balloon Tracking Program updating WorldTrack.Me and Google Earth:


I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial. Let me know if I can help with implementing the API in your project.


Don plans to develop the web site over the year to facilitate greater use in HAB and it is already being used during this year’s Global Space Balloon Challenge.

Users of left high and dry


There is currently a suspension of service on the web site, leaving the operators of APRS based radio tracking systems without the popular map based view of their high altitude balloon locations. The most notable impact of this outage is in the US. This comes as many teams are preparing for the Global Space Balloon challenge which begins on the 11th April.

A post on the web site blog explains the outage and promises a return to full service soon but gives no clear time line for restoration of full functionality.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Google Maps disabled on temporarily due to a TOS accident

I woke up today to find out that Google Maps are disabled on, and the site is slightly crippled.

Google had noticed that has integrated support for OSM map tiles *and* Street View. I hadn’t noticed that the combination of Street View on top of anything else than Google Maps is forbidden according to the Maps API Terms Of Service document. Or I had just forgotten about it when implementing OSM or Street View (there was probably a year or two of time between the two, and probably another year or two since I actually read the lengthy TOS).

Google had nicely sent me a few emails to warn about the unapproved combination, first one already on 5th of March. I had moved away from reading emails regularly in Gmail a long while back, but forgotten to arrange for these emails from Google APIs to go to my primary email address. Silly me. Since I didn’t respond or do anything about the situation, they disabled Maps API, which certainly got my attention.

Oh well. OSM support is disabled for now, and I notified Google that is again compliant with the terms. Should be back soonish.

I might put OSM support back later, and remove Street View instead, as OSM is probably more useful in practice at some areas (although admittedly less visual and “cool”). Or maybe make some sort of arrangement where Street View only works if you have Google Maps selected instead of OSM. Have to check with the Google folks if that’s OK.

I’ll post updates on Twitter ( and Facebook ( Stay tuned.

My mistake entirely, although quite a human one. When did you last read the full text of the license agreement of your new application or mobile phone? :)

Solar eclipse day busy for UK balloon launches.

The skies above the UK were busy on the morning of Friday 20th March with high altitude balloon launches around the country. Posts on the UKHAS message board showed how busy both the skies and the radio frequencies were.

Taken from

Eclipse Balloon Launches – 20/03/15


  • There will be multiple balloon flights tomorrow morning from around the UK and beyond with cameras to downlink images of the solar eclipse. Due to the resolution of the cameras and the rotation of the payloads it may not be possible to view the eclipse itself however good chance of seeing the shadow.
  • Track the balloon flights : habhub
  • Discuss: #highaltitude on webchat
  • SSDV Images (Live)
  • APRS
    • GEMINI 1 (Callsign LZ2WIN-11 on 434.5 MHz)

BBC Stargazine Live

  • Launch Site: Leicester Racecourse
  • Launch time: 0800
  • Pi #1 (camera with solar film):
    • MARVIN: 434.300MHz, RTTY, 910Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2 (SSDV + Telemetry)
    • ZAPHOD: 434.350MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6
  • Pi #2 (bare camera):
    • KRYTEN: 434.400MHz, RTTY, 910Hz shift, USB, 300 baud 8 N 2 (SSDV + Telemetry)
    • RIMMER: 434.450MHz, LoRa, Implicit mode, Bandwidth 20.8kHz, Error coding 4:5, SF6
  • Backup
    • BUZZ 434.315MHz 425Hz, 50 baud, 7 N 2 (Telemetry)


  • Launch Site: Cookstown, NI
  • Launch time: 0700
  • Callsign: EAGLE 434.250 MHz RTTY 300 baud 8N2 – (SSDV + Telemetry)

Southampton University Space Flight


  • Launch Site: Pepperbox hill, Salisbury
  • Launch time: 0700
  • MAJORA: – 434.211MHz, 600bd RTTY, 600Hz Shift, 8n2 – (SSDV + Telemetry)
  • OLAF – 434.149MHz, 300bd RTTY, 880Hz Shift, 8n2 – (SSDV + Telemetry)

University of Birmingham

  • Payload of undergraduate student experiments including a high quality stills camera.
  • Launch Site: Selly Park, Birmingham
  • Launch time: 0900
  • GEMINI 1 – Callsign LZ2WIN-11 on 434.5 MHz, APRS AX.25 packets containing GPS information


Photographing solar eclipse using high altitude balloons

This year’s partial solar eclipse, visible over mainland Britain, provided a great opportunity for HAB enthusiasts to photograph the phenomena.  Near Space photography found that the results from action cameras like the Go Pro Hero were relatively disappointing due to dazzle, sun motion during exposure, misting, and poor zoom.

Last Friday morning mainland Britain witnessed a partial solar eclipse, reaching a maximum at 9:30a.m. Even though conditions were relatively clear at the launch site in Welshpool, Near Space photography used the opportunity to see if HAB could provide better images of the eclipse. A light northerly wind provided ideal conditions to fly a balloon 800gm balloon and 1600gm camera payload.


Image taken just before apogee

The NSP payload used 4 Go Pro Hero cameras including the 4 Black, 3+ Black, and 3 White models to acquire both  video and stills of the eclipse.  The Go Pro Hero 4 Black was set to video capture mode and was set to 1080 mode with a capture rate of 50 fps. No solar filter was used. The sun, even though experiencing a 90-95 % eclipse still provided enough illumination to completely dazzle the sensor. The eclipse was not observable.

A dense solar filter, such as those used on solar viewing glasses, provided more satisfactory results. This time the camera used was the Go Pro Hero 3+ Black recording stills every 5 seconds. Solar glasses reduce the intensity of the sun’s light to such an extent that only the sun is visible. The outline of the sun and the eclipse was clearly visible on the images recorded. Due to the strength of the filter, the camera extended the image exposure time. The movement of the payload during the exposure time caused the ‘streak’ of the sun on the image.


Full image


Detail of the sun

Of over 1000 stills collected, only 4 showed a the sun without streaking. These were taken early on in the eclipse.

The image highlights a second problem, that is the level of zoom in the Go Pro Hero camera. Solar photographers recommend at least a 12 times optical zoom in compact cameras for taking images of the sun. The images also shows some fogging on the inside surface of the solar filter which could obscure the image of the sun.

Balloon News sponsors CANSAT 2015 prize


Balloon News is again happy to support the CANSAT competition by offering to launch the winning entries to CASAT on a high altitude balloon.


Winner of UK CanSat 2015 Announced!

  1. 03. 15

ESERO-UK, the UK space education office, based in York, here proudly announces the winner of the UK round of the international CanSat competition. ESERO-UK organises the annual UK CanSat Competition for teams of secondary school students.

Winner of the Beginners’s category was the CANnoneers, from Tonbridge School in Kent. Runners up include: Spiritus, Putney High School, London; #getjezsrockettospace, from Allestree Woodlands School, Derby; Benenden CANSAT Avengers, from Benenden; Kent and Colossus, from St. Paul’s School, London.

“I highly recommend this wonderful opportunity to anyone who has the chance. Jump on it as it’s a unique opportunity to gain a lot of experience in a unique learning environment and will give a good amount of experience for anyone even considering a career in engineering! I enjoyed the experience and I’m sure the rest of my team did too.” Walter Tso, Outreach Manager and Electronics Assistant, CANnoneers.

Team Impulse, from St Paul’s School in London won the Advanced category of the competition. Runners up include: OSSO , from Oundle School, Northamptonshire; Heathrow Aeronautical Engineers, from Heathrow UTC, Greater London.

Team Impulse, from St Paul’s School in London, were announced overall winners of the 2015 CanSat competition and will go on to compete at the European CanSat Competition in Portugal.

“We are thrilled to be continuing the great British tradition of innovative engineering and are delighted to be representing St Paul’s and the UK at the CanSat final in Portugal.” Team Impulse, St Paul’s School.

Tom Lyons, ESERO Teacher Fellow said: “This year’s completion was a great success with all teams launching and recording data with their CanSats. We’re now looking forward to the 2016 competition and hoping to attract even more teams to get involved.”

balloon-borne accelerometer measures atmospheric turbulence

The department of Meteorology at University of Reading, have used weather balloon payloads as a pendulum  and pivot to measure atmospheric turbulence. Within the payload the scientists have mounted a digital accelerometer to measure the swing of a payload. The swing reflects atmospheric turbulence. The scientists measured swing of up to 5g in events called CAT or clear air turbulence. For more information read the full scientific article at