After a little delay due to a very busy January, I am announcing that the winner of the 2013 BN prize for a HAB flight is :-

No 3. Space Glider by David Windestål

This project merged FPV technology, RC plane technology and HAB technology. While it didn’t go perfectly, it looked like it was a fully functioning project. Of particular interest in the hack that enabled a live feed from a Go Pro Hero. I would really like to see one of those commercially available. Well Done David. You get the ‘High Five’.


As for the ‘Whoppie’, that goes to these chumps. It proves that you just need to invest a little time in flight forecast and proper tracking.



BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – Two independent filmmakers are asking for the public’s help to find their missing weather balloon.

Jacob Adams and Galen Olmsted launched the balloon from Preston Miller Park last Friday. Their GPS tracking system failed, sending their three cameras up and away. The cameras were inside a styrofoam container with an orange parachute attached.

The filmmakers hope someone finds the balloon since the price to relaunch will quickly add up.

“Yeah. It was about $120 per camera. There were three cameras and yeah I would say the whole thing cost me about $800. So the next launch would cost me around 400 or 500. I wouldn’t have as many cameras,” says Jacob Adams.

Adams says the balloon could have traveled anywhere from 40 to 250 miles away.

After seeing the news report it was clear that these two had put no planning into this flight at all.

BN sponsors prize at CanSat


Balloon News is supplying prizes for the CanSat competition. The CanSat competition encourages school students to develop a satellite communication that would fit within a drinks can. The competition is developed and promoted by ESA. The winners and runners up, from both the beginners class and advanced class will be given space on a HAB flight run by BN during the upcoming Balloon Fiesta, set to take off in late May from  a site near Malmesbury. This will give the winners the chance to test the performance of their school built satellite devices in near space.

Balloon Fiesta 2014 – the countdown has begun!

Countdown to the Balloon Fiesta 2014 has begun. The launch window is from 24th May to 1st June. 4 balloons have entered the fiesta but the team from St Bede’s have had to postpone their launch. The outlook for the weather is fantastic with a period of high pressure dominating the early part of the week. There is still time to join the fiesta but you will need to contact us now.


The second balloon Fiesta will take place on a day between 24th May and 1st June at the  Red Bull Inn, Bristol Rd, Malmesbury.

As with last year, interested parties are invited to make their own application to the CAA. There will be plenty of assistance and support for the flight planning, launching, and recovery. BN will also provide discounted rates for our limited number of trackers.

For more information email Chris  at

UK part of European Cansat competition nears final

On the 17 July 2013, entries closed for the Uk section of the CanSat competition sponsored by ESERO. The competition is open to any secondary school or college in the UK.

Teams must construct a “satellite” payload inside a drinks can (or similar sized container). As well as taking temperature and pressure measurements, teams will be able to design their own secondary missions for their CanSats. Winners of the UK competition may be able to go on to compete in the next European CanSat competition.

A teacher workshop was held at the National STEM Centre in York, in September. No previous knowledge of programming or electronics (other than the basics from GCSE physics) was required.

The competition has it’s grand final on 6-8 March at the National STEM Centre, University of York. CanSat’s will be moored on a static balloon located on Elvington Airfield at 200m elevation to test their functionality.

For more details on CanSat, open:-

UK CanSat Competition guidelines 2013 November update


or go to:-

Unmanned Vehicle Expo 2014 Moulton College, Northampton, UK – 26/27 July 2014


After months of planning, UVX are formally announcing UVX 2014 – Europe’s largest and most exciting event for unmanned vehicles.


There has been an incredible increase in interest in unmanned vehicles over the last few years.  This has been driven by the combination of advances in technology, the ready availability of components and an Internet-enabled sharing of design and application ideas.


Until UVX, there has been no central venue at which these ideas, applications and products can be shown and appreciated. UVX addresses this with the opportunity for Experimenters, Manufacturers, Distributors and Enthusiasts to meet, discuss, sell, buy and generally immerse themselves in the technology.


UVX is designed for you, whether your interest is Professional or Hobby-based. If you use or are thinking of using FPV, Multicopters, Robotics, Photography, Videography, Navigation, Security, GPS, Survey or any other of the myriad applications of this technology, then you need to attend UVX 2014.

HAB outlook for 2014

This year I’m going to take a look at what companies that supply the HAB domain have on offer for 2014.


go pro

2013 was the big year for the Go Pro Hero 3 plus – a great update to the 3rd generation camera which ironed out many of the problems the Hero 3 had. I’m not expecting a Hero 4 this year but I’m sure they are working on one.


Last year Garmin finally entered the action camera market with the Virb. Garmin brings it’s experience of GPS to the action camera market and I’m looking forward to seeing the result from a HAB team using this camera.



2013 was a busy year for SPOT LLC, with the launch of the SPOT Gen 3. As a consequence, I’m not expecting much new from SPOT in 2014. I am, however, hoping for improved SPOT apps for Iphones, Android phones and Windows phones.


Hexpert was first to come to the market with the Z log 7, an ‘off the shelf’ GPS data logger for the HAB market. Matt from Hexpert told me what to expect this year.  “In the works right now is an improved version of ZLog-7.  I’m designing a version that would be more plug and play.  It would have the GPS integrated on the board and be enclosed in a custom case.  I’m considering a built-in rechargeable battery.  Just place the unit inside your balloon, press the record button and launch.  When it returns, plug it into a USB port for charging and downloading the data.  I get a lot of schools interested in recording their balloon flights, but they don’t want to have to do any thing besides turn it on and hit “go”.”


Sky-Probe have the SPDLV15 data logger on the market. Looking to

this year Sky-Probe said, “For 2014 we are working on improving the

usability of the current data logger, SPDLV15. This data logger will see

some coding improvements

that will allow those with more experience with programming to utilize a

data link. The SPDLV15 will continue to be useful and see improvements

even as we start development of another version.

Secondly, we intend on transitioning to surface mount chips that have

more memory and features for a new version of the data logger. We

expect this new version of the data logger to have built in live

telemetry via radios that do not require a HAM radio license, thus

keeping them easy to use and affordable. Sky-Probe has invested in some

new prototyping and development tools which we have been using in next

version development, so we expect a smaller and more capable board.

This new version will be released sometime during 2014, but our current

focus is improving the experience with the current SPDLV15 and to

continue to assist our current and new customers.”

I asked for a comment from High Altitude Science but they are keeping their cards for 2014 close to their chest.



HABduino, an ‘off the shelf’ radio tracker is set to have another production run this year. It’s inventor, Anthony Stirk, has said that it will be a rerun of the existing board but he will be making modifications for future runs. This may involve replacing the LMT2 radio module with NTX2B. Anthony said, “Currently that isn’t frequency agile but I’m pestering Radiometrix about that. I’ll consider an SD logger when I redesign.”


During 2013, PAWAN balloons became widely available in the UK market; joining Hwoyee and Totex balloons. Also prices from the main UK suppliers dropped, benefiting HABists.  This year Balloon news web store is looking to bring another Japanese manufacturer’s balloons to the UK market.