I arrived at about 9:00 AM and the action was already started. The tracking teams were already outside starting the setup of their gear. This equipment with any luck would supply live Video Feed as well as WiFi MESH links from the Balloon. Team members continued to trickle in up till launch time but everyone made it and everyone had a great time.
In the vehicle assembly building the BLT members was busy filling the 1500 gram balloon. This “launch vehicle” is one of the larger ones used by the team over the years. Charlie King K5ENG taking charge of the filling process holds the base of the Balloon, “just in case.” His many years of experience have given him insight into the hazards of working with these things. As a result Charlie has a very high success rate with handling the Balloons and getting them out to the Launch site successfully. Outside the building JAR’s truck serves as the “fueling vehicle.” The two cylinders of helium, sit in the bed with the filling line attached. I wonder how many actual cubic feet of helium are in one of these tanks??
The Payload This year there were a very wide variety of packages included in the mission plan.The traditional Analog Video link was there with a 23 cm (1260 MHz) Analog FM video signal.
Next the cross band repeaters with the standard 147.435 MHz FM up 446.000 MHz FM down and A new addition a unique 146.5 MHz FM up with a 50.35 MHz AM downlink. This thing really sounded and worked well I was one the of first to take advantage of it along with Tony N5RPQ and Craig K1BDX.
A new “parrot” repeater was added by Thomas KT5TK, this device used a smart phone to record you on the frequency and they would automatically repeat you message just after. Also Thomas provided an outstanding item which was a Slow Scan Video downlink form the balloon. This again was working very well.
Another new addition was a MESH network system sent aloft, this was supposed to provide a video downlink during flight but something happened and the link had issues during most f the flight. I am curious to learn more about this experiment.
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