Santa uses 434.075 MHz during sleigh test

Mark and Cassie of STRATODEAN

Mark and Cassie of STRATODEAN

BBC TV News has reported on the 434.075 MHz STRATODEAN balloon carrying Santa and Rudolf that was launched from Coleford, Gloucestershire, UK.

The BBC say that amateur scientists Cassie Phelps and Mark Ireland, from the Forest of Dean, successful launched Santa and Rudolf into near-space 30 km above the Earth.

STRATODEAN report that when Santa finished off the modifications to the 2013 sleigh like all good engineers he opted to test the new changes before rolling it out into production and went to STRATODEAN for help! (It’s been a very well kept secret that they provide technical facilities to all their famous mythical friends. The Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are already well established customers.)

They were given a clear project remit – to take him up and down on their payload to allow him to test the new handling abilities of his sleigh. Apparently the cost of reindeer propulsion (magic flying dust) has skyrocketed in the last few years and he can only justify the once a year purchase for Christmas due to Mrs Clauses’ bingo habit and the increasing Elf wages. Furthermore, for this test he can only bring Rudolf as the other reindeer are getting on a bit and they need to save their knees.

Watch the STRATODEAN video of the flight

Mark and Cassie with a STRATODEAN High Altitude Balloon

Mark and Cassie with a STRATODEAN High Altitude Balloon

The telemetry downlink from the balloon was on 434.075 MHz using 50 bps 350 Hz shift FSK with ASCII-7 code, 2 stop bits and no parity.

Watch the BBC TV news story – Amateur scientists attach a model of Santa Claus to a weather balloon

Read The Telegraph story at


A video of the STRATODEAN High Altitude Balloon Presentation given by Cassie Phelps and Mark Ireland to the annual AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium in Guildford last July can be seen at

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Team STRATODEAN High Altitude Balloon Talk

Team STRATODEAN - Cassie Phelps and Mark Ireland

Team STRATODEAN – Cassie Phelps and Mark Ireland

The members of Team STRATODEAN, Cassie Phelps and Mark Ireland, will be giving a web streamed presentation on their High Altitude Balloon project to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium on Saturday, July 20.

The event takes place at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ, UK and is open to all.

Image from STRATODEAN Two

Image from STRATODEAN Two

The STRATODEAN team have sent high altitude weather balloons complete with payload from the Forest of Dean up to the edge of space (approx. 34 km up into the Stratosphere). Each balloon was equipped with a camera and video recorder as well as GPS and a 434 MHz telemetry transmitter running 50 bps, 350 Hz shift, ASCII. The transmitter enables the balloon to be tracked during its flight and then located once it has burst and returned to earth with the help of a parachute.

Their first balloon STRATODEAN One launched on April 21, 2013 followed by STRATODEAN Two on May 18, 2013 and they managed to capture some stunning pictures and video.

For those unable to get to the Colloquium all the presentations on the Saturday and Sunday should be broadcast live on the web thanks to dedicated BATC volunteers on their Live Events page at The STRATODEAN talk is expected to start at 1:50 PM Saturday.

The times (BST, GMT+1) for all the presentations during the weekend are at

AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium July 20-21

STRATODEAN High Altitude Balloon Project

A sample issue of the AMSAT-UK newsletter OSCAR News can be downloaded here.