There are groups of hams flying weather balloons stuffed with APRS trackers, digital cameras, repeaters and linear transponders, and other cool stuff. These things are cheaper to build and fly than self-built satellites, but offer a lot of the same features and thrill. I'm aware of two projects which flew during the past couple weeks.
Ilmari-2007 (OH2SIX-12) flew in Finland on 11th of August 2007 and is planned to fly again on 2nd of September. It's equipped with a linear transponder (70cm to 2M, just like amateur satellites - actually the device was designed for a future satellite), a couple of beacons, an APRS tracker transmitting on 437 MHz, a couple of temperature sensors, and an 1.2 GHz Amateur Television (ATV) transmitter sending live video from the heights! The first flight went up to about 30 km (100 000 feet). Here are the links (sorry for the login requirement):
- The track of the first Ilmari-2007 flight
- Current location of Ilmari-2007 - use this link on 2nd of September to follow the flight in real time. The flight is scheduled at 06:00 UTC (but they usually fly late).
SABLE-3 (VA6TNY-11) also flew on 11th of August, in South Alberta, Canada. It was equipped with a 8-megapixel digital still camera taking crisp pictures once every minute, and an APRS tracker. It flew up to 117,597 feet (over 35 km), and took some really nice photos!
- The track of the SABLE-3 flight on 11th of August, 2007
These balloon flights took aprs.he.fi usage to an all-time high - there were over 100 simultaenous users tracking the balloons alone.
If you are planning to launch a balloon, please share the fun and drop me an email, or post a comment on this blog. Thanks!