On Saturday, weather permitting, students at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall will be launching a High Altitude Balloon “Armstrong” carrying a 434.400 MHz beacon.
The launch is planned for 10am (0900 GMT) on Saturday, June 28, 2014 with reserve dates of June 29, July 5 and July 6. A live broadcast of the launch should be available via http://horizon.qmgs.walsall.sch.uk/
The students are attempting to send a balloon to a higher altitude that than achieved by Felix Baumgartner. Their first attempt named “Gagarin” was just short of target reaching an altitude of 35,118 metres before bursting and returning safely to Earth by parachute. The students were able to retrieve the stunning still images and video taken in near-space.
For the “Armstrong” balloon they have built a telemetry payload which will transmit sensor data on 434.400 MHz USB FSK with 580 Hz shift, 50 baud, ASCII 7, No Parity, 2 stop bits.
The telemetry transmitter should have a range of over 700 km at maximum altitude and be receivable by radio amateurs across the British Isles and into Europe. They will upload the data received to the UK High Altitude Society (UKHAS) central server enabling anyone to see the current location of the balloon on the web.
The Horizon team will use a Yaesu FT-817 transceiver at the school to receive the signal from the balloon and dl-fldigi software to decode it. Among those supporting the project are Yaesu and Essex-based Rapid Electronics.
Listen to the Balloon via the Web
Radio amateurs Noel G8GTZ, Martin G8JNJ and Phil M0DNY from the Southampton University Wireless Society, have established an Internet accessible WebSDR receiver near Basingstoke in the UK. It has special helix antennas optimised for balloon and satellite reception in the 144 and 434 MHz bands and can be listened to from anywhere in the world.
The WebSDR is at http://websdr.suws.org.uk/
Project Horizon http://horizon.qmgs.walsall.sch.uk/
You can see the online real time track at http://spacenear.us/tracker/
Download the dl-fldigi software from http://ukhas.org.uk/projects:dl-fldigi
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
MP Congratulates Students on near Space Program
The UK Department for Education (DfE) has selected the Horizon balloon project to feature in the department’s #yourlife campaign to promote Maths and Science. https://amsat-uk.org/2014/05/11/434-mhz-balloons-have-a-role-in-stem-education/
Post launch update: The flight was a success and reached an altitude of 38915 metres just 130m short of the altitude achieved by Felix Baumgartner.
The team searched the area of the last know coordinates and the predicted landing site but there was no hint of a signal from the payload.
Although Armstrong was not located it set a new record for the school which will catapult Queen Mary’s Grammar School (QMGS) from 59th to 32nd on the World Altitude Rankings.