Tuesday, 5 July 2011

HABEX - AR flying high

The HABEX - High Altitude Balloon Experiment team had another very successful flight and I was pleased to be able to monitor and track the progress of the flight of the balloon.

The balloon carrying amateur radio has come a far way from its original attempts way back in the late 70’s known as BACAR. The balloons are now much improved and the advent of APRS has made the recovery processes much more reliable and interesting.

There are so many aspects to the balloon flights that it should fire up the imagination of all real amateurs. Understanding the abilities and limitations of the balloons, the meteorology and how that will affect the flight, the amateur payload and how it will be affected by temperature etc…. the list is almost never ending.

We often discuss the affect of antenna height on HF and what role it plays on the effectiveness thereof. If we consider the QRPp (very low power) beacon carried during the last flight. I heard the beacon fairly well from launch and the signal did improve as time went on. I suspect it was due to progressively more direct (ground wave) signals. It would be great if there were more stations further afield that monitored the beacon so that we could determine if the altitude played a role in the sky wave propagation or not.

The use of APRS is just amazing. Next time I will be decoding the live transmissions and won’t be relying on information provided by others. Using APRS.fi is great, but it relies on i-gates to relay the information to the internet and this is often the weak link in the system. I guess we need more stations that can track the live signals and then relay that info onto the web or to the normal 144.800 MHz packet frequency?

I am looking forward to the next HABEX flight.

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