GPSL Pico balloons status updates

Bill Brown

Out of the 10 Pico Balloons that were launched last Saturday for GPSL (2 on Sunday), one is currently being received as it flies over Bulgaria (KC7VQR-11) and two more may still be flying but out of range of APRS ground stations. Here's the status of all of the balloons so far:

Still flying or potentially still flying:
KC7VQR-11 (APRS Skytracker with SBS-13 balloon) - Currently flying over Bulgaria. 7 grams of free lift with helium.
KM6BWB-10 (APRS Skytracker with two silver foil balloons - Last heard in Mexico, if it is still flying it should show up back in CA/AZ on 7/18 @ 2200z.
KK6UUQ-7 (APRS SKytracker with single foil balloon - Launched, burst, recovered from a field then flown again within a few hours and last heard SW of New Orleans. Predicted to show up 7/18 @ 1200z in east TX

On the ground:
VA5BNC-15 (APRS custom built by Bruce VE5BNC - 25 grams on a single foil balloon) - Landed in east GA, then took off again the next morning and landed near Orangeburg SC.
WB8ELK-10 (APRS Skytracker on a single silver foil balloon) - Hit bad storms along NC coast not far from Kitty Hawk and looks like it splashed down a half mile from shore.
KM4ZIA-2 (WSPR Skytracker on SBS-13 balloon) - Hit bad storms off the coast of NC and probably splashed down in the Atlantic.
KM4BUN-1 (WSPR Skytracker on SBS-13 balloon) - Hit bad storms off the coast of NC and probably splashed down in the Atlantic.
K5NOT-11 (WSPR Skytracker on SBS-13 balloon) - Had trouble heat sealing the filling port so likely caused leak after 20 minutes of float time. Landed in central TX.
W5HRH-15 (WSPR board on SBS-13 balloon) -  10 grams of free lift, anything over 8 grams has more risk. if it works it will work very well but increased risk of leaking as it achieves float altitude. It burst and came down in South Texas. I did have one work great with 11 grams of free lift but that's the upper limit. The most recent successes I have observed have had between 6.5 and 7.5 grams free lift.

Not Sure if still flying:
K7HAK-11 (APRS Skytracker with two silver foil balloons) - Likely landed in SC where there were a lot of storms. Didn't show up over Newfoundland per prediction but may still be aloft. If it doesn't show up in Europe within two days from now then it probably landed in SC.

GPSL balloons launched on Sunday:
Also W7EEU-11 launched an APRS Skytracker on a single silver foil balloon on Sunday since he couldn't launch on Saturday during our big event. It had a wild roller coaster ride after picking up some icing but finally reached a stable float on the second day. It was heading into northern Canada and may show up again in a few days in Europe if it is still flying.
K6STS launched a WSPR payload on an SBS-13 on Sunday as part of GPSL but it came down shortly about 2 miles from his house. He has recovered it and will fly again soon.

- Bill WB8ELK