Radio amateurs help students reach for the sky

View from Balloon - Image Credit Caen School

View from Balloon – Image Credit Caen School

The Appledore Amateur Radio Club helped students at Caen School in Braunton, Devon with their balloon, callsign CAEN_CP1, which transmitted pictures using Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) on 434.250 MHz.

The balloon was launched on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at the school sports day by members of the Pi, Code and Chips after school club. It reached an altitude of 32,540 metres before the payload descended back to Earth by parachute.

The North Devon Gazette say the club – for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects – has been working on the balloon project for weeks under the guidance of trainee teacher Bill Harvey. The payload for the flight included a Raspberry Pi mini computer, plus cameras and sensors.

The North Devon Journal reports:

Bill Harvey, an ex-services trainee teacher, is passionate about getting pupils enthused with science and this project was one of many that he hopes to use to inspire children.

“We enlisted the help of the Appledore Amateur Radio Club for ground to air communications as well as the Commando Logistics Regiment RMB Chivenor who provided personnel and equipment.”

Read the full North Devon Journal story at

Read the North Devon Gazette story at

SSDV images
Useful balloon tracking links and information

Appledore Amateur Radio Club

UKHAS Conference Cambridge Sept 10

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

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

The UKHAS Conference will be held at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, on Saturday, September 10, 2016. There will be an opportunity to take the amateur radio Foundation Practical Assessments and Exam.

The conference attracts those interested in learning about building and flying High Altitude Balloons or in tracking their 434 MHz signals.

Tickets can be purchased from the wiki page and cost just £10 each.

This is our first year away from London but the change in location also comes with a greatly reduced ticket price, with thanks to Andy Batey G7LBL for offering up the facilities. Hopefully this will offset any increased difficulties in travel and Cambridge is still well connected to the major transport hubs.

For those who haven’t attended before, the conference is a great opportunity to learn more about the hobby and meet new faces. There will be a series of structured talks, workshops and discussions.

If you would like to speak or run a workshop, please do get in touch with either Daniel Saul M6DSA or Steve Randall G8KHW. Contributions don’t need to be directly linked to ballooning and we look forward to all suggestions.

As in previous years, there will also be the opportunity to take RSGB amateur radio exams on the day. Please contact Phil Crump M0DNY if you are interested email: phil <at>

We look forward to seeing you all in September!


Daniel & Steve

UKHAS Conference Booking

Those intending to take the amateur radio Foundation exam may find this free Online Foundation course useful

Last year’s conference had an impressive line of of radio amateurs giving presentations

UK student balloon flies around the world

UBSEDS14 balloon track as at 1300 GMT March 21, 2016

UBSEDS14 balloon track as at 1300 GMT March 21, 2016

On Monday, March 21, 2016 the UBSEDS14 balloon, launched by University of Bristol students, completed its circumnavigation of the Northern Hemisphere.

UBSEDS14 balloon envelope

UBSEDS14 balloon envelope

The University of Bristol Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UBSEDS) launched their balloon on Monday, March 8. Powered by a single AA Lithium Energiser Battery (LR91).

During the flight at an altitude of about 11,500m the balloon has been transmitting telemetry data at 4 minute intervals using 5 dBm output of Contestia 16/1000 on 434.600 MHz USB. Each telemetry packet is preceded by 10 seconds of 1Hz pips for manual alignment and a RSID tone for automatic alignment with suitable software. Additionally the payload has the capability for 144 MHz APRS.

UBSEDS14 tracker payload

UBSEDS14 tracker payload

The balloon has a diameter of 1.5m and the payload weighs just 21.3 grams. Despite the weight constraints the team have managed to employ sophisticated Geofencing technology to prevent the balloon transmitting when over certain countries and also to select different APRS frequencies depending on the territory being overflown.

UBSEDS14 information is available at

UBSEDS14 balloon launch

Useful High Altitude Balloon Links

One of the students involved in the project is Richard Meadows M0SBU. He took the amateur radio courses run by the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society (CARS) at Danbury in Essex. Further information on the courses is available from the CARS Training Manager
Email: training2016 at

What is Amateur Radio?

Find an amateur radio training course near you

A free booklet is available aimed at introducing newcomers to the hobby that can also be used as a handy reference while getting started, see

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

2015 UKHAS Conference

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, 2015.

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