At about 16:30 GMT on Friday, July 31, the solar powered B-64 balloon launched by radio amateur Leo Bodnar M0XER crossed the 1 degree West longitude line completing its circumnavigation of the northern hemisphere in just over 19 days.
The balloon, flying at an altitude of 12 km, completed its transatlantic crossing and came within range of Cornwall in the morning. Oliver De Peyer M6ODP happened to be visiting St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall at the time. He used his Kenwood TH-F7E handheld to receive an APRS packet from the balloon.
As the day progressed B-64 moved from just south of Cornwall up the English Channel and radio amateurs and listeners from Manchester to Nantes in France were able to receive the 10 mW Contestia 64/1000 and APRS signal on 434.500 MHz.
B-64 passed over the Isle of Wight and floated over Bognor Regis and across Kent heading out into the North Sea near Herne Bay. As of mid-day Saturday it was still flying and transmitting over Sweden and being tracked by members of AMSAT-SM.
Leo Bodnar M0XER launched his balloon carrying an 11 gram transmitter payload from Silverstone in the UK at 06:51 GMT on July 12, 2014. While Leo’s earlier balloons had been foil type party balloons B-64 was a plastic foil envelope that he made himself.
Using the amateur radio APRS network and the UKHAS network the location of B-64 was tracked as it traveled over Europe, Siberia, with a brief sojourn across North Korea, before heading out over Japan and across the Pacific Ocean. It then briefly entered the United States before swinging north into Canada.
It was heard in Greenland by Peter Thulesen OX3XR and on Friday morning finally came within range of the British Isles.
Leo has utilised some clever techniques storing positions when the balloon is out of radio contact then later transmitting a log file of previous locations in the comments field of the APRS packet. This enables a fairly complete path to be built up. B-64 only stores 5 days worth of data, where you get a straight line on the track it has been out of radio contact.
Leo Bodnar M0XER balloons http://www.leobodnar.com/balloons/
Members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society received the signal from B-64. Just 4 weeks earlier, thanks to Chris Stubbs M6EDF, the Society had launched a balloon CARS-1 from their meeting venue. That balloon didn’t have solar power so the signal only lasted for about 10 hours. CARS training organiser Clive G1EUC reported receiving a strong signal from B-64.
Clive is currently taking names for the next amateur radio Foundation course which starts on Thursday, September 4. If you’d like to join the course or wish to find out more about the hobby give him a ring on:
Email: training2014 at g0mwt.org.uk
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The UK High Altitude Society (UKHAS) Conference takes place Saturday, August 16, 2014 at the University of Greenwich in London
Further 434 MHz balloon links at