Balloon News is backing high altitude balloon kickstarters by creating a page just for them. So if you have a kickstarter or other crowd funded project then get in touch and we will promote your project. We are starting with a project that is celebrating the 50th Birthday of Action Man. The project is called Action Man (G.I. Joe) Mission Mercury 10 . Read more…
ESERO-UK, the UK space education office, based in York, has announces the winner of the UK round of the international CanSat competition. And for the 3rd year running, www.nearspacephotography.co.uk will be providing the prizes.
The Cannoneers, from Tonbridge School in Kent, were announced overall winners of the 2016 CanSat competition and will go on to compete at the European CanSat Competition in Portugal.
Second place went to team Aurora from Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow. In third place was team Cyclone, from St. Paul’s School in London. Last year, the winning team from the UK competition – team Impulse from St Paul’s School – went on to win the final round of the European competition, held in Portugal.
Tom Lyons, ESERO Teacher Fellow said: “ESERO-UK are delighted to be hosting the UK round of this prestigious competition in York once again. This year’s competition was the biggest we’ve seen yet, and we wish the winning team luck in the final round of the competition in Portugal”.
A CanSat is a simulation of a real satellite, created in miniature and contained in a soft drinks can. The CanSat is then launched hundreds of metres into the air and its mission begins: to carry out a scientific experiment and achieve a safe landing. The CanSat competition offers a unique opportunity for students to have a first practical experience of a real space project. A video of last year’s competition can be found here. ESERO-UK organises the annual UK CanSat Competition for teams of secondary school students.
For the third year running Balloon News / http://www.nearspacephotography.co.uk will be providing the prizes. As with previous years, this will be a free HAB flight for the winning entries. Details of last years winning flight from St Paul’s, and the runners up flight from Tonbridge School can be found by following the links.
The long awaited cut down computer, the BBC Micro Bit has just been rolled out to UK schools and it did not take long for the first school project to send one to near space on a weather balloon.
School children from Yorkshire have sent a Micro Bit into the stratosphere by attaching it to a large helium balloon.
Thankfully there are no recorded cases of aircraft being hit by high altitude balloons but the risk is there. A recent bird strike on an Egypt Air airlines 737 does how what damage could be done.
Bird hits passenger jet landing at Heathrow leaving a large bloody dent on its nose Matt Payton
Last year there was no one particular HAB project that really stood out as pushing the bounds of HAB flight. There were, though, may incremental steps taken in the improvement of the LoRa system of radio broadcast for trackers. So what is LoRa anyway and what makes it special?
LoRa is a radio broadcast system that offers higher bandwidth than is generally achieved by HAB flights that use RTTY. LoRa also allows for an uplink to a radio tracker since the modules used in the radios are transceivers. This means they receive signals as well as transmitting them.
A LoRa gateway is a LoRa transceiver connected to a computer and controlled by software that reads incoming packets and uploads them to habitat, in the same way that dl-fldigi does. The computing requirement is minimal, and anything that has an SPI interface and internet connectivity can do it. Freed of a PC, gateways can be made small and waterproof and put up near the aerial. Tom (SP9UOB) has done just that – see http://sp9uob.verox.pl/LoRa/lora-gateway-inside.jpg. Very neat. Something like that can be left on all the time, and remotely administered, at much lower power consumption than a PC. Most people use Raspberry Pi for this as it’s cheap and convenient. The combination is a lot cheaper than a laptop and radio or SDR.
LoRa systems can be found for existing trackers that use the most common protocol: RTTY. Pi in the Sky, for example, has an optional LoRa board that stacks over the RTTY transmitter board. The PITS software supports LoRa (and APRS for that matter) and can transmit any combination of LoRa, APRS and RTTY at the same time.
HAB enthusiasts are currently developing software to run both RTTY, APRS, and LoRa at the same time. An example of this is Flextrack AVR tracker software developed by Dave Akerman .
One of the nice things about LoRa is that you don’t need a PC – as I said anything with SPI and an internet connection will do fine. A Pi is cheap and convenient, or a cheap Arduino with an ESP8266 wifi module could do it, albeit with a bit more effort.
This article was put together with a lot of very useful information from Dave Akerman.
Last weeks flight by NC Near Space showed how easy near space glider flights can be.
Paul from NC Near Space picks up the story.
“On Feb 28, 2016 Paul launched a flight of the NSL-41 rig with a larger balloon and a different camera angle. It was a perfect flight as HAB goes. And a glorious day for driving in eastern NC.
This flight was launched from Paul’s home in Apex during a brief lull in the winter jet stream. The track was a meander back and forth in eastern NC. It was launched just after sunrise, while winds were calm, and the sun angle gave more depth.
The consumer GPS giant Garmin have purchased the company Delorme in a move that gives them a foothold in the satellite messenger market. The market is currently dominated by SPOT LLC, whose 1, Messenger, and Gen 3 products are often used as a simple and cost effective way of tracking high altitude balloon flights. Delorme manufactures the heavier and more expensive inReach satellite messenger which some groups have used as a high altitude balloon tracking device. It will be very interesting to see if Garmin take on SPOT with an tracker that is more suited to the HAB market.