Launches‎ > ‎2013-2014‎ > ‎

April 2014


Track the Payload!!!
  • W7UQ-1(Above 10,000 ft)
  • W7UQ-2 (Below 10,000 ft)
  • W7UQ-3 


Executive Flight Summary

The flight was very successful overall. We launched a single balloon train this semester. The payload was Fishnauts 2.0 where we launched warm water fish fry. The team was well prepared for launch. We left the Ham Shack early, arrived at Harrington early, and launched the balloon train ahead of schedule. There was a slight mix up with the Iridium code that morning but the CDH team fixed the problem quickly. The day before launch there was a mix up with the cutdown system so we decided not to fly one for the launch.

The balloon train was at maximum weight and we launched with extra lift to avoid long drifts. With our average ascent rate of 1100 ft/min our drift predictions matched the actual drift very closely. The new microtrack system worked perfectly and our last packet was within 10 ft of the landing site. The balloon train landed close to a farm house NW of Saint John. We were lucky enough to drive right up to the capsules.

Overall the launch went extremely well. It was the first launch for many members so it provided them some good launch experience. The Science team’s water heater worked really well and kept the fish at a constant temperature throughout the flight. The only problem with launch is a failure for Iridium to obtain a GPS connection. We used a new type of foam for the capsule that we had never tested for. After the launch we discovered the foam block RF signals. In the future we should always place the GPS antenna outside of the capsule and test in full flight configuration before launch.

C&DH Flight Summary


Comm Flight Summary

Building on last semester’s smooth launch, the Communications Team made a few key process improvements and saw another very successful flight.  Developing expertise in the equipment was our paramount concern this semester.  Once the MicroTraks and radios behave consistently and predictably, then Comm Team can have a smooth recovery every launch.  We received over 90% of expected packets this spring, which is possibly as close to perfect as the crowded public APRS network will allow.  It was also possible for us to predict when the next packet would arrive with an accuracy of within several seconds, which shows how the time spent learning, practicing, and perfecting the equipment operation and configuration can pay off.  Since the majority of our team had HAM radio licenses this semester, we had each member bring a small, non-tracking radio to use for inter-vehicular communication.  This made coordinating launch much easier and ensured every car was informed of the balloon train’s path.

Supplementary projects help to make the work more varied and exciting, and the main project of this semester was an altitude switch.  The switch allowed us to have a MicroTrak beacon more often below a certain threshold altitude, which better illustrated the path of the balloon train as it neared the ground.  It also helps us to get a packet as close to the ground as possible, since when antennae are on the ground they become significantly less effective at transmitting signals.  To create the switch, an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller was attached to the MicroTrak’s serial output and its channel switch.  The Arduino read the serial GPS data, and used the altitude value to switch between the channel 1 and channel 2 configurations on the MicroTrak. It functioned exactly as expected during launch, and gave a final packet with GPS coordinates within 10 meters of the balloon train’s final location.

Imaging Flight Summary


Science Flight Summary


Structures Flight Summary