Archive | August, 2013

ON HOLD

31 Aug

All I am still on hold. Due to thunderstorms in the area I am going to scrub the launch for this weekend. While it would have been totally ideally on a long weekend I must keep safety at top of mind. More importantly… I don’t Edwards AFB would like it if I landed my balloon on their airstrip

Note: on Saturday 8-31-2013 I will be testing my Byonics MT-AIO HA while I go for a run in the Malibu hills. Lets see how the Pelican case holds up to Spartan Beast training (spartan race http://www.spartanrace.com/)

The Parts

29 Aug

The top image is of the “flight system” (balloons) and the parachute system that will bring everything back home. Also you will see the inflation system to fill the balloon. Moreover, you see a pair of HT’s for the cross band repeater system.

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The inside guts of the Raspberry PI Specifically, you are looking at a test I am running to see how much power is being used.
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Launch HOLD

28 Aug

So we are now officially on hold.

We have a weather situation possibly still occurring during the weekend.

Update 8/28/2013

Clearance for HIBAL given. However weather is still to sketchy for when the parachute comes down.

This is the problem:

mission_scrub_1a

Cross Band Repeater

15 Aug

Using what is called a Radio-Tone.

I had to ship this from Hong Kong

Cross band frequencies

14 Aug

Input / TX: 445.800
Listen / RX: 147.560

No PL tones needed

Here is a link on how I hope it will turn out or better (LINK)

HAB Project 1.0 build 93

11 Aug

RPI-Connections2 1

So as of today Saturday August 10th, 2013 I have stared to tell other ham radio folks about my project. Specifically I was able to meet up with a bunch of fine folks at the Papa System breakfast in Canoga Park, CA. As a result, I thought make a summary post that will hopefully save you time on reading all these entries. Since this document is going to be update as frequently as possible please be sure to look at the line below to get a sense of the latest revision.

[Document last updated: August 11th, 2013 11:09PM PST]

Question: What type of camera’s are you going to use to capture the flight?

Answer:

Camera 1: Raspberry PI Camera 5 mega pixels. The images from this camera will be saved in original format locally on the RPI. A copy of the image will be made converted and then transmitted via SSTV.

Camera 2: GoPro Hero 2 (External): Capable of doing 1080p HD video recordings. This will be mounted externally on an external platform which is secured within the inside of the payload capsule.

Camera 3 GoPro Hero 3 (External): This camera will be located on the other side of the platform

Currently, I have some ideas on what each of these GoPro’s will record. However the jury is still out. If anyone has any idea of something very light in weight to attach to the end of the external landing please let me know. The funnier the better.

Question: Do you have a in flight computer system?

Answer:

Yes. Specifically it is a Raspberry PI doing a lot of the heavy lifting. For example, it will be acting as the primary device for broadcasting SSTV every 5 minutes and audible GPS  coordinates for those that do not have APRS. As stated above broadcasts from this radio will occur every 5 minutes until the battery runs out. In addition, the Raspberry PI has two thermometers one internal to the of the payload capsule and one external of the Styrofoam container. I am going to be VERY CURIOUS to know what the outside temperature is going to be. More importantly, the external thermometer only goes as low as -52F. Lastly, if I can get it built, programmed and tested in time I will also be sending up a TNC PI

Question: What are you putting everything in?

Answer:

I have purchased from ULINE medical grade Styrofoam shipping containers. Internal deminsions of the container is 6 inches by 4 inches.

Question: I see your payload capsule has a window. What did you make that out of?

Answer:

Plexiglas and some Liquid nails

Question: What type of parachute will you be using?

Answer:

I will be using The Rocketman’s 5 foot parachute

Question: What type of ballon / where did you get the ballon?

Answer:

Kraymont Ballon’s Specifically I will be using their 1,,500 gram sounding ballon.

Question: What radios are you using?

Answer:

Radio 1 Byonics MT-AIO HA Purpose to be able to broadcast APRS location frequency is set

Radio 2 Wouxun HT KG-UV3D Purpose, transmission of SSTV images and audible GPS coordinates

Radio 3: Baofeng UV-B6 Dual Band VHF and UHF Purpose part of cross band repeater system

Radio 4: Baofeng UV-B6 Dual Band VHF and UHF Purpose part of cross band repeater system

Question: What type of antennas are you using?

Answer:

Radio 1 Byonics V6 dipole antenna

Radio 2 Home brew dipole antenna. Beams made from Steel Wire, Spring Temper

Radio 3: Home brew dipole antenna. Beams made from Steel Wire, Spring Temper

Radio 4: Home brew dipole antenna. Beams made from Steel Wire, Spring Temper

Question: Why am I doing this?

Answer:

Last year 2012 around this time I watched this video on YouTube. Immediately I thought to myself, wow that is really cool? I wonder how hard hat was… after all it looked simple. Little would I know that this would lead me down the path of amateur radio and about at least 5 radios (+/- 2 HT Radios.) Ironically this year I thought to finally play with a Raspberry PI to see what I could build. However I never really had this project in mind until I found that I could convert an image taken from a Raspberry PI camera. Once I was able to get that done everything else was cake. Granted I never knew how to program in Python. However how hard could it be to obtain, real-time GPS coordinates, external temperature, internal temperature, save locally and send this data back down to Earth.

Question: What ham radio license do I hold?

Answer:

Technician. Before the band went bad in the early summer. I have to be honest, I am really surprised what 5 Watts and or 45 Watts of power can get you.

Question: How much did this cost you?

Answer:

Honestly, I do not even want to think about it. Rounding up just a little I think I am dropping 1K to get the first flight up. Granted, if I can recover my payloads a lot of the costs can be recouped

Question: Tell us something about yourself?

Answer:

Hmm well? I gotta say I am into a lot of different things. While yes I do like amateur radio and it is always interesting to see how much further you can reach for a QSO. I do also like practicing magic and I am a member of the magic castle. In addition, I have found that I am seriously getting addicted to obstacle racing? What is obstacle racing? Go to here. Currently this year I am on track to achieve what I call the Trifecta medal that is earned for doing a 3 mile, 9 mile and 13 mile obstacle race. Last but not least, I am heavily into information technology. Its what pays the bills.

Question: How did you select the devices that you are using for the High Altitude Ballon (HAB)

Answer:

In one word, research. Research… Research… Research… While I have acquired all this gear, I am really hoping that I am doing everything right. Also I am being really sure that I do my conversion correctly from feet to meters. I can’t afford to create a $1,000 dirt dart. For that matter, I can’t afford for a ballon not to pop at the designated altitude.

Question: How do you know where the ballon is going to go and land?

Answer;

The short answer, I use a prediction site (link). If my conversions are correct and they seem to be spot on. This site will tell roughly where the ballon will land and most importantly how it will behave when ascending and descending.  That’s right folks, I am simply walking in the foot steps of others whom have already achived success.

Question: How can we track your ballon? How can we listen into this near space mission?

Answer:

There are going to be a few methods on how you can listen and or participate if desired. (cough cough hint hint). Listed below are the few method on how you can keep track of this ballon:

  • APRS (Radio 1): I will be transmitting the balloon’s location every two minutes or less. With that being the case you can use APRS.fi The link just given is a map of all APRS stations which are broadcasting via the standard US frequency. [Frequency: FIXED]
  • Audible / SSTV Transmission (Radio 2): This idea is what started this whole HAB project. The goal of the idea was to be able to take a photo, convert it and then transmit via Martin-1 [Frequency: TBD]
  • Cross-Band Repeater (Radio 3 and Radio 4): This idea was more like a, why not? Since I can go to a maximum weight of 4 pound and I had spare space. 🙂  I opted to place a cross band repeater. [Frequency: TBD]

So as you can see this ballon will allow us to make a few state to state QSO’s over 440 and 2m Moreover, if you have the application called Ham Radio Deluxe. It will allow you to decide the SSTV images via Martin-1

Measure twice cut one… or was that cut twice measure twice

10 Aug

Yes folks I messed up… I was creating the stands for what my GoPro cameras would attach onto on the outside of the payload capsule … and you know what happened? Well I measured twice of where the stands would attach onto the capsule… BUT … I forgot to make room for the GoPro cameras. DOH!!!  Well lets see what I can macgyver to make this work.

FAA Calls and Payload

7 Aug

Image

It really feels like I am so close to getting ready to launch this thing that I can not wait!!

The photo above is what my Payload case looks like … no paint no nothing really. The only items of interest are:

  • I cut a slot for a plexy glass window which will be used for the Raspberry PI camera
  • I have the radio mast cut through the casing waiting to accept a dipole antenna
  • I have also noted that I need to redo how everything sits.  Specifically, I need to move things to one side vs all over the place.  I need to mount the RPI camera to one of the case sides of the project case.
  • Lastly I need to paint this ting bright orange. 

Lastly, I have reached out to the FAA and they seem to be very helpful and sound like they encourage this type of stuff… indirectly. 

Research to find a safe launch and retrieval area

5 Aug

Image

So the search for a safe, harmless, intrusion less and safe launching and landing zone has now begun. 

  • Non-Intrusive launch area
  • Non-intrusive airspace 
  • Time of day for safe deployment
  • Safe landing area is defined as no homes, no major highways, no major streets, no power lines. Ideal area is in the desert
  • Ability to use cutdown system with no worries.

As a result, here are three preliminary launch and landing sites. Over all it looks like I will be doing about a 1 mile hike to retrieve the payload if the predictions hold true. 

Site being used to obtain predictions: http://predict.habhub.org

Why not add more stuff :-)

3 Aug

So I have now bought the following items for my HAB project:

  • 5 foot parachute supports up to 4.7 lbs at a descent rate of 10mph
  • NEW IDEA: Would like to setup a repeater within the pay load area. as a result I purchased a RadioTone from HongKong
  • Byonics MT-AIO with a rubber duck
  • NEW IDEA: TNC PI. Yes thats right I saw Ham nation this past week and thought that would be neat

This monday I am planning on paying the ballons 1,200. Go big or go home.