Balloon News Awards for 2014


It has been another busy year for HAB enthusiasts around the world. Here are three projects that I think really pushed things on in the High Altitude Balloon world but there is still time to recommend a project.  The winner will be named on 31st December 2014

Entry 1 Rockzip High Balloons

High balloon


It isn’t often that projects try to redesign the balloon but this year Rockzip got kickstarter funding to develop super pressure balloons. If successful, this could really add a new dimension to long duration flights and ‘floating’ balloons. For more information read more…

Entry 2 Boomerang altitude control system.

Smith & Williamson, LLC, a small US tech company, is developing a complete gas venting altitude control system for latex weather balloons. The Boomerang Flight, Altitude Control, and Termination System aims to provide balloon operators altitude control, longer duration flights, and controlled recovery options. In addition to altitude control, the system includes two independent means of flight termination, a suite of atmospheric and balloon sensors, on-board data recording, ports for GPS and radios, and supporting mission control software. As with the Rock Zip high balloons, this will hopefully lead to technology that will allow longer flights for amateurs who cannot afford expensive super pressure balloons, or whose kit isn’t suitable for small foil balloons.

3rd generation valve

Entry 3 Pi in the Sky

Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk have been pushing the boundaries of radio tracking for years. This year they came up with an off the shelf SSDV module based on the Raspberry Pi computer. Here is Dave’s description of it:-

The board and software are based on what I’ve been flying since my first “Pi In The Sky “flight over 2 years ago, so the technology has been very well proven (approximately 18 flights and no losses other than deliberate ones!).  So far the board itself has clocked up 5 successful flights, with the released open-source software on 3 of those.  Here’s the board mounted to a model B (though we very strongly recommend use of a model A):

pits (1)It comes in a kit complete with a GPS antenna, SMA pigtail (from which you can easily make your own radio aerial), stand-offs for a rigid mounting to the Pi board, and battery connectors.  Software is on, with installation instructions at, or there is a pre-built SD card image for the tragically lazy.  We do recommend manual installation as you’ll learn a lot.

Entry 4

Amateur balloon operator Leo Bodnar successfully flew an ultralight radio payload round the world in 12 July. Here is the track made by balloon ‘B64’.


The journey of over 25,000km saw B-64 hit a maximum altitude of just over 13,000m as it passed over 16 countries (by our reckoning) during the circumnavigation.


Leo explained that the payload comprises a radio transmitter using both the 434.500MHz band and 2m amateur band, a couple of solar panels and a LiPo battery for nigh time  operation. The whole thing weighs in at just 11g:


The balloon was a roughly 90x150cm transparent film envelope, seen here during pressure testing:


For more information read more…

HAVE YOUR SAY! Let us know the project you think improved high altitude ballooning the most this year. Email or leave a comment.

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