Amateur radio balloon enthusiast helped restore BTTF DeLorean

Ara Kourchians N6ARA in BTTF DeLorean Time Machine

Ara Kourchians N6ARA in BTTF DeLorean Time Machine

Radio amateur and High Altitude Balloon enthusiast Ara Kourchians (Arko) N6ARA was among those who helped restore the Back To The Future DeLorean time machine for Universal Studios.

Ara Kourchians N6ARA restoring BTTF Delorean

Ara Kourchians N6ARA restoring BTTF DeLorean

The San Bernardino Microwave Society newsletter reported his interest in the amateur microwave bands when he was a student in 2008.

Ara N6ARA has since flown many amateur radio High Altitude Balloons and in 2013 attended the UKHAS Conference in London to give a presentation on US Ballooning.

By 2015 he completed his bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona and has worked as a Software Engineer at JPL.

Ara Kourchians N6ARA appeared in a video about the DeLorean restoration project.

Watch “OUT OF TIME: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine” – Trailer 1

Ara’s presentation to the UKHAS 2013 Conference can be seen at

Arko N6ARA

Pig in Space

Pinky and Perky - M0NRD

Pinky and Perky – M0NRD

Andrew Garratt M0NRD plans to launch Pinky Pig into near-space along with several 434 MHz transmitters on Saturday, September 26 from the National Hamfest at the Newark Showground.

The launch had been planned for Friday but the weather has forced the postponement. If the weather is suitable it is understood the launch might now occur on Saturday at around mid-day. For the latest news check

Andrew has two pigs, Pinky and Perky, but it is Pinky wearing his fetching headset who has been selected to be the passenger on the High Altitude Balloon flight. During the flight images of Pinky will be transmitted to radio amateurs back on Earth using the Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) system.

The SSDV payload, callsign PINKY, will transmit on 434.575 MHz USB RTTY 300 bps 880 Hz shift ASCII-8 no parity 2 stop bits. The backup telemetry tracker, callsign PIGLET, will transmit 434.150 MHz USB RTTY 50 bps 380 Hz shift ASCII-7 no parity 2 stop bits.

There may also be LoRa spread spectrum transmitter on 434.450 MHz, callsign PERKY, however, at the time of writing there was a fault with the module.

The signals from the balloon should be receivable across most of the UK. Those overseas can use the SUWS WebSDR to receive the 434 MHz USB signals.

Read Andrew’s Hamfest HAB – Pre Launch Update

National Hamfest Sep 25-26

High Altitude Balloon links for online tracking, SSDV, UKHAS mail list / chat room, WebSDR

UKHAS Conference on Saturday

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon - Image credit Dave Akerman M6RPI/2E0LTX/M0RPI

SSDV picture from a PIE balloon – Image credit Dave Akerman M0RPI

There’s an impressive line-up of radio amateurs among those giving presentations at the UK High Altitude Society (UKHAS) conference in London on Saturday, August 22.

The UKHAS conference attracts those interested in learning about building and flying High Altitude Balloons or in tracking their 434 MHz signals. The conference takes place at the University College London (UCL).

09:30     Assembly – Drinks & Biscuits
10:00     Welcome & Introduction
10:10     10 years of UKHAS – Steve Randall G8KHW & Ed Moore M0TEK
10:30     HF Pico – Andy Nguyen VK3YT (Streamed)
11:00     Crossing the Karman Line – Laurence Blaxter & Leo Bodnar M0XER
11:30     Break
11:45     QB50 – Dhiren Kataria M6END MSSL
12:15     Stratos School Habbing – Dave Green
12:45     A balloon-borne accelerometer technique for measuring atmospheric turbulence – Graeme Marlton
13:15     Lunch
14:15     A Short Guide to Parachutes – Ed Moore M0TEK
14:30     Predictor – Adam Greig M0RND & Daniel Richman M0ZDR
14:45     UKHASnet Weekend
15:00     Flexible timings: workshops, discussions etc
– IQ Sampling and Software Defined Radio for Beginners – Adam Greig M0RND (G06)
– Eagle CAD Workshop – Anthony Stirk M0UPU (G08)
– UKHASnet node demo – James Coxon M6JCX (Lobby)

UKHAS are also offering the option to complete the amateur radio Foundation Practical Assessments and Exam at the conference. This has been fully booked, perhaps a sign of the shortage of Foundation exams in central London.

Conference registration information is at

434 MHz Balloon Launch at Dorset Rally

Jules G0NZO with the BONZO1 foil balloon

Jules G0NZO with the BONZO1 foil balloons

Jules G0NZO hopes to launch a 434 MHz balloon BONZO8 from the Flight Refuelling ARS Hamfest on Sunday, August 9 at Cobham Sports and Social Club Ground, Merley, near Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 3DA.

The Hamfest lecture stream will start at 11am with a talk on Transverter and RXGEN designs by Kevin Avery G3AAF.

At 11:45am Jules G0NZO will be giving a quick overview of High Altitude Ballooning in the UK and an equipment demonstration. Subject to prevailing weather conditions the launch is planned for 12:30pm and listeners across southern England should be able to tune into the signal on 434.650 MHz USB as well as follow the balloon track online.

The balloon launch will be either a 100gm latex balloon, or a pair of 36″ foil balloons, filled for minimal free lift, to attempt to get the payload to float for the maximum distance. If a latex balloon is used, a simple polythene parachute will be attached, for safety.

Jules G0NZO with the BONZO3 Latex Balloon

Jules G0NZO with the BONZO3 Latex Balloon

The payload is a basic tracking beacon. Radiometrix NTX2 licence exempt transmit module, modulated with RTTY, by a PIC processor and Ublox GPS receiver. Powered by 3xAAA lithium batteries.

BONZO8 Frequency 434.650 MHz USB, ASCII 7 bit RTTY at 50 bps. Approximately 320 Hz shift.

Depending on altitude the 434 MHz transmitter may have a range of around 250 km.

At 1:30pm Essex radio ham Justin G0KSC (InnovAntennas / Force 12) will give a talk on Antennas and at 2:30pm Colin G4KLB will be talking about HamTV from the International Space Station (ISS).

Talk In to the Hamfest will be on 145.550 MHz FM and the gates are open from 10am to 4pm. There is disabled access from 9.30am. Admission is £3.50 and there will be trade stands, a car boot sale, licensed bar as well as lectures. Details from Tony G3PFM on 07743 475018.

Hamfest information

High Altitude Balloon links for online tracking, UKHAS mail list / chat room, WebSDR

School plans 2am balloon launch

Sun Chaser - LogoStudents at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall plan to launch the Sun Chaser 2 balloon (434.448 MHz USB) to capture images of the sunrise on Saturday, July 11.

Depending on altitude the signals from the balloon may have a range of up to 800 km, potentially covering much of the British Isles. Those outside the coverage area can receive the signals online using the SUWS WebSDR.

The school’s Project Horizon team say: We’re having a second attempt to capture footage of the sunrise from the Stratosphere over Wales/West England.

Watch the mission trailer

The report on launch 1 (some useful lessons learn’t, such as check interference by testing the GPS will all other kit running in the box and ALWAYS duct tape batteries into a cell holder) can be found here:

All being well, we have planned to launch from:

Location: Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Sutton Rd, Walsall, West Midlands, WS1 2PG
Latitude: 52.577498
Longitude: -1.965008
Altitude: 135m

The launch will take place at ~2:00am on Saturday 11th July (Sunday 12th is our reserve date).

The chase team will track and chase throughout the flight.

The probe will have a radio tracker (with two smartphone trackers as backup connected to two different networks). We’ve also got a couple of 16MP cameras and a GoPro onboard.

Tracker information:

Tracker: SUNCH1
Frequency: 434.448 MHz USB
Carrier Shift: 280-290
Baud Rate: 50
Bits per character: 7 (ASCII)
Parity: 0
Stop Bits: 2

As before, we’ll probably be the only ones tracking (unless any of you are night owls) so we’ll do our best. Our internet connection may be patchy at times so be prepared for quiet moments when we’re passing through low signal areas (we’ve got two hotspots with us: EE and O2).

We’ll be posting a steady stream of updates to twitter:

We’re quietly confident, now we just need the wind speed on the ground to drop to 3-5mph ;-)

Wish us luck!

QMGS Project Horizon

Links for tracking balloons online and the SUWS WebSDR are at

Essex STEM Balloons Launched

Image received from The Boswells School payload on June 29, 2015

Image received from The Boswells School payload at 1416 GMT on June 29, 2015

On Monday, June 29, 2015 three high altitude balloons from Essex schools and colleges transmitted Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) in the 434 MHz band.

The balloons, part of the educational Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative, were taken to an approved site at Elsworth, Cambridge for the launch.

Transmission coverage area of the balloons at 1352 GMT June 29

Transmission coverage area of the balloons at 1352 GMT June 29

The balloon from The Boswells School, Chelmsford reached an altitude of 36,937 metres. It had the call sign BWELLS and transmitted Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) ASCII RTTY at 600 bps on a nominal frequency of 434.450 MHz USB. Balloon frequencies may vary from nominal by several kHz during a flight due to the cold temperatures at high altitudes.

Stewards Academy, Harlow achieved an altitude of 39,876 metres. Their call sign was SWARDS and had a nominal frequency of 434.050 MHz USB and 300 bps data rate.

The Prospects College of Advanced Technology, Basildon reached an altitude of 38,659 metres with their balloon, call sign PROSP, which transmitted on a nominal frequency of 434.150 MHz USB with a 300 bps data rate.

All three balloons transmitted images using SSDV. Individual packets from an image were received by radio amateurs across the UK and NE Europe and automatically uploaded to a central server with the final image being built up from all the good packets and displayed on the web for all to see.

The SSDV images transmitted by the balloons can be seen at:

The balloon tracks were displayed live on the web at and may still be available to view if you select the option to display the past 3 days.

The balloons carried a Raspberry Pi computer board and a Pi in The Sky (PITS) high altitude balloon tracker. On May 24 Chelmsford radio amateur Chris Stubbs M6EDF carried out a test of the PITS tracker for Essex Council, read his report at

Pi in The Sky project

High Altitude Balloon links for online tracking, UKHAS mail list / chat room, WebSDR and SSDV


Eggs in Space on front page of the Sleaford Standard newspaper

Eggs in Space on front page of the Sleaford Standard newspaper

At around 10-11am on Sunday, June 28, 2015 Andrew Garratt M0NRD and the South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society are planning to launch balloons from the 10th World Egg Throwing Championship held at the Swaton Vintage Day at Swaton, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

As well as telemetry data it is also planned to transmit Slow Scan Digital Video images in 434 MHz. Depending on altitude the signals from a balloon may have a range of up to 800 km, potentially covering much of the British Isles. A real-time track with altitude will be displayed online at

Andrew provided this information on the UKHAS Mailing List : First ever flights for me, so in at the deep end. The ‘egg’ payload will be carried aloft by the balloon and will have a parachute decent into the North Sea when the balloon eventually bursts. There will be SSDV and backup tracker, kindly sponsored by MADHEN

Callsign – MADHEN
USB RTTY 300 Baud 880 Hz Shift – Ascii 8 bits, no parity, 2 stop bits Telemetry and SSDV – 434.400 MHz

Callsign – EGG1
Backup tracker
USB RTTY 50 Baud 380 Hz Shift – ASCII 7 bit, no parity, 2 stop bits
Telemetry – 434.650 MHz (old non-tcxo NTX fixed frequency)

Second flight planned, a foil floater with VAYU-NTX tracker kindly donated by Steve Smith G0TDJ

Callsign – EGGDX
USB RTTY 50 Baud 450 Hz Shift – ASCII 7 bit, no parity, 2 stop bits
434.450 MHz (fixed frequency)

Launch should be around 10-11am.

All help in tracking greatly appreciated

Andrew Garratt M0NRD
Chairman South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society

UPDATE June 30, 2015:
BBC News report on the balloons

Andrew M0NRD’s report on the day

Read the Sleaford Standard newspaper report

High Altitude Balloon links for online tracking, chat room, free software and SSDV

ISS, Satellites and High Altitude Balloons

Sarah M6PSK and Kelly M6KFA demonstrate amateur radio at the Raspberry Jam May 30, 2015 - Credit M0PSX

Sarah M6PSK and Kelly M6KFA demonstrate amateur radio at the Southend Raspberry Jam May 30, 2015 – Image Credit M0PSX

Working the International Space Station,  amateur radio satellites and High Altitude balloons featured at two events over the weekend of May 30-31, 2015.

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

On Saturday, May 30 members of Essex Ham explained amateur radio to the Raspberry Pi community at the Southend Raspberry Jam event organised by the team from SOSLUG, the Southend-on-Sea Linux User Group, and aimed at encouraging people of all ages to get involved with programming, construction and technology.

The Essex Ham stand featured the popular “Send Your Name in Morse”, SDRs, Raspberry Pi and Arduino crossover projects, SSTV and data modes. A scrolling amateur radio video was shown and plenty of Essex Ham and Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) leaflets were handed out during the day.

A new feature for this Raspberry Jam was TeachMeet – A series of lightning talks – up to 8 minutes on a topic likely to be of interest. Pete M0PSX gave a lightning talk on amateur radio and working the International Space Station, outlining that contact is possible for amateurs using voice, image and data, and explaining the challenges of making contact. This was a nice tie-in with the Astro Pi – an experiment for young people involving astronaut Tim Peake KG5BVI and his upcoming trip to the ISS.  While on the space station Tim hopes to contact UK schools on 145.800 MHz FM using the call sign GB1SS.

Chris M6EDF launching SXHAM1 - Image Credit Ed Bye G8FAX

Chris M6EDF launching SXHAM1 – Image Credit Ed Bye G8FAX

Sunday saw the Shoebury East Beach Field Day where several amateur radio activities took place. As well as the usual HF and VHF stations there was also satellite operation. Steve M0SHQ regularly explains amateur satellites at the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society Skills Nights in Danbury. During the morning despite the inclement weather he worked Juan Antonio EA4CYQ via SO-50 FM satellite. 2.4 GHz was used during the day to control a drone.

Chris M6EDF launched his high altitude balloon SXHAM1 carrying a beacon on 434.3 MHz which reached an altitude of 26.7 km and could be heard over most of England and into Germany. The launch was filmed by Bob G0FGX and Nick 2E0FGQ from TX Factor, an online TV show dedicated to amateur radio, and the feature is intended to be used to promote HAB and amateur radio to youngsters – Keep an eye on to see Chris and the balloon launch in a future show.

Read the Raspberry Jam event report at

Read the SXHAM1 High Altitude Balloon Flight report with launch video at

TX Factor video Chris M6EDF filling the SXHAM1 balloon with helium - Image Credit 2E0DVX

TX Factor video Chris M6EDF filling the SXHAM1 balloon with helium – Image Credit 2E0DVX

Mass 434 MHz Balloon Launch Sunday

A typical High Altitude Balloon - Image Credit STRATODEAN

A typical High Altitude Balloon – Image Credit STRATODEAN

There are many 434 MHz balloon launches planned for Sunday, May 24 from Elsworth, Cambridge, wind and weather permitting.

The USB FSK signals from the balloons should be receivable across much of the British Isles.

Provisional frequencies so far are:
434.447 – “ECC1” (PITS) (NTX2B can be reprogrammed)
434.300 – “CHEAPO” (RFM22 can be reprogrammed)
434.395 – “SPARK” (Fixed frequency)
869.500 – “CS4”  (UKHASnet node with GPS)
434.250 – “HL1” (XABEN tracker)
434.350 – “uX0” (XABEN tracker)
434.550 – “uX2” (XABEN tracker)

Some of the launches should be Live Streamed via

The LARDY-PICO balloon will also launch from Primrose Hill, London transmitting 434.647 MHz USB RTTY 50bps 270Hz shift.

For the latest frequency updates and launch status check the UKHAS Google Group. Links for the group and real-time balloon tracking are at

Listen to UK balloon radio signals on 434 MHz USB from anywhere in the world using the online SUWS WebSDR, further details at

Yahoo Group

X-Wing 434 MHz Balloon on BBC Click

X-Wing in Space - Image Credit Essex Space Agency

X-Wing in Space – Image Credit Essex Space Agency

On Sunday, May 17 the BBC TV technology show Click broadcast a report on Essex Star Wars enthusiasts who flew an X-Wing in near-space.

The balloon was launched on April 21, 2015 and reached an altitude of 36,190m before bursting and returning to Earth, landing in a field between Bedford and Northampton. Telemetry and Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) were transmitted on 434.510 MHz.

Phil St Pier of Romford and Matt Kingsnorth of Brentwood took around six months to complete the project at a cost of about £1,200.

Watch The Full X-wing flight 1 of 9 – Launch

Watch the BBC report with video shot at the “Essex Space Agency” Brentwood branch at

Read the Romford Recorder story at

Project Helium Tears

High Altitude Balloons