Dear Santa …. From a high altitude balloon enthusiast

After Guy Forkes night or Thanks Giving, it is traditional to turn ones attention to Christmas and what gifts you would like to receive or give. Here are some gifts we suggest for the high altitude balloonist in your life.

For a small budget


£45 Tractive is a subscription based, sim free, GSM locator produced by an Austrian company. The small, lightweight unit (35g) uses the mobile phone network to transmit it’s location to a web based mapping system that can be accessed through your mobile phone.  We have been testing tractive this year and have found that it’s performance is as good as premium sim based GSM locators such as Cattrack live, and much better than economy GSM locators such as the TK102. Tractive’s battery life out performs the Cattrack and offers a simple to activate registration/cancellation service (£3.50 per month) so you can run the Tractive in the summer, when you are operating your balloons, and cancel it in the winter when you are not flying. This is far more cost effective than a range of other subscription based gsm locators with annual subscription terms of service.


For a large budget


£340 360Fly. This year has seen many high altitude balloonists try their hand at capturing 360 video footage of their balloon flights. The most popular camera to do this is the 360 FLY camera. The 360 Fly camera comes in two variants, the 4K model and the HD model. Unlike some of it’s predecessors, 360Fly has a continuous video recording function, essential with balloon flights, capacity to take large capacity memory cards, and a battery with sufficient capacity to  allow 100 minutes of video recording. This is sufficient to record up to apogee on many balloon flights. The camera is also robust enough to not require additional insulation. There are some down sides to the camera. Many users have reported the centre of the lens cover fogging up, with is to be expected if the lens cover is sealed on to the camera case. Also the camera lens sits on top of the moulded plastic case, obscuring this area within the lens field of view. You will also need a high spec computer to edit the video produced by the camera.




Doongara is a reusable self-contained thermal line cutter that severs the synthetic line connecting balloon and payload. It is typically flown in a tandem balloon configuration and separates one or both balloons at specific points during flight. Doongara is powered from a single AA battery and cuts line based off of user-programmable settings: elapsed time, barometric pressure, and/or rate of pressure change. Features include:


Integrated sensors with on-board data storage:

Barometric Pressure, Temperature

Redundant burn-wires

Battery heater

Duration >3 hrs

Light-weight at less than 40g, including battery


Whatever you buy for the HAB enthusiast in your life, happy Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s