On Tuesday, April 8, 2014 radio amateur Leo Bodnar M0XER launched two foil “party” pico balloons from Silverstone with solar powered payloads transmitting on 434.500 MHz USB using the Contestia 8/1000 data mode. By Thursday, April 10 one of the balloons, B-44, was reported to be over Syria.
Depending on altitude the balloons could have a range of 300-500 km and remain aloft for several days.
Balloons: 90cm Qualatex foil party balloon
Payloads: 12 grams solar powered tracker
Telemetry: 434.500 MHz, USB, vertical polarisation, Contestia 8/1000
B-44 is 1500Hz higher than B-43 so it should be possible to see both in the same audio bandwidth.
These balloons use digital mode “Contestia 8/1000”. Unfortunately it is not possible to automatically configure this mode in dl-fldigi. Therefore please follow this procedure:
• Autoconfigure B-43 or B-44 flight as usual. This will default to DOMX 16 mode.
• Select menu option Op Mode -> Contestia -> 8/1000. The bottom left corner of dl-fldigi should now read CTSTIA 8/1000
• Enable RxID button at the top right corner of dl-fldigi.
Downlink data contains two lines of telemetry every 4 minutes.Time between telemetry data is filled with beeps at 3 sec intervals.
Leo says “I appreciate help of everybody who joins in for tracking!”
Leo Bodnar M0XER balloons http://www.leobodnar.com/balloons/
You can see online real time tracks and frequencies of balloons at http://spacenear.us/tracker/
Download the dl-fldigi software from http://ukhas.org.uk/projects:dl-fldigi
Listen to balloons online (when in range of south-east UK) from anywhere in the world with the SUWS 434 MHz WebSDR (select USB) https://amsat-uk.org/2013/12/28/websdr-for-434-and-1296-mhz/
Beginners Guide to Tracking using dl-fldigi http://ukhas.org.uk/guides:tracking_guide
Check the #highaltitude IRC channel for chat about launches. A web client is available at