Topics

Balloon breaking previous records U3B-25

VE3KCL
 

A U3B balloon has never managed to fly around the world twice before, and now -25 is on it's 3rd lap, over Egypt at the moment.
The greatest distance that has ever been logged on one of these flights is now at 82000km... quite good mileage for  90 cents worth of hydrogen.
It is quite possible that this flight longevity may be related to timing ... this time of the year has high winds and less high clouds, which ice up balloons.
... or more likely some very good luck.
http://www.qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b25.html
73 Dave 

jjpurdum
 

This has been fun to watch unfold!

Jack, W8TEE

On Monday, March 25, 2019, 8:49:08 AM EDT, VE3KCL <airdry@...> wrote:


A U3B balloon has never managed to fly around the world twice before, and now -25 is on it's 3rd lap, over Egypt at the moment.
The greatest distance that has ever been logged on one of these flights is now at 82000km... quite good mileage for  90 cents worth of hydrogen.
It is quite possible that this flight longevity may be related to timing ... this time of the year has high winds and less high clouds, which ice up balloons.
... or more likely some very good luck.
http://www.qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b25.html
73 Dave 

 

Dave et al :

I have a separate browser window that I keep open with both WSPRNET and APRS.fi tabs so I 
can quickly check to see what U3B-25 is up to on a daily basis. As Jack, W8TEE said, it has been a 
lot of fun to keep tabs on it. 

It was very interesting to track both U3B-25 and the SA6BSS BSS-18 balloons as they were neck and neck 
from about Feb 29th until March 14th, when BSS-18 went silent somewhere off the coast of Ireland. 

We will be looking at the spots from both Balloons for that period to see how well beaconing on 20m only compared to 
Dave's strategy of 30m/20m.  We are trying to come up with a Beaconing strategy for our Aries-1 Balloon and this
occurence presents a unique opportunity to pretty much rule out propagation as a variable because the two balloons were
geographically so close for one global circumnavigation. 

Congratulations again Dave, your work has been inspirational to all of us. 

Cheers

Michael VE3WMB 

Joe Street
 

I get the excitement and all.....the only thing that dismays me about this interest is that the baloon and its payload end up as garbage somewhere in this world.  I have found garbage of this sort on the summits and shoulders of pristine mountains and that makes me sad.

Joe ve3vxo


On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 10:14 AM Michael Babineau <mbabineau.ve3wmb@...> wrote:
Dave et al :

I have a separate browser window that I keep open with both WSPRNET and APRS.fi tabs so I 
can quickly check to see what U3B-25 is up to on a daily basis. As Jack, W8TEE said, it has been a 
lot of fun to keep tabs on it. 

It was very interesting to track both U3B-25 and the SA6BSS BSS-18 balloons as they were neck and neck 
from about Feb 29th until March 14th, when BSS-18 went silent somewhere off the coast of Ireland. 

We will be looking at the spots from both Balloons for that period to see how well beaconing on 20m only compared to 
Dave's strategy of 30m/20m.  We are trying to come up with a Beaconing strategy for our Aries-1 Balloon and this
occurence presents a unique opportunity to pretty much rule out propagation as a variable because the two balloons were
geographically so close for one global circumnavigation. 

Congratulations again Dave, your work has been inspirational to all of us. 

Cheers

Michael VE3WMB 

jjpurdum
 

Hopefully, when you found that radio balloon on some pristine mountain top, you picked it up and disposed of it properly.

Jack, W8TEE


On Monday, March 25, 2019, 11:26:27 AM EDT, Joe Street <racingtheclouds@...> wrote:


I get the excitement and all.....the only thing that dismays me about this interest is that the baloon and its payload end up as garbage somewhere in this world.  I have found garbage of this sort on the summits and shoulders of pristine mountains and that makes me sad.

Joe ve3vxo

On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 10:14 AM Michael Babineau <mbabineau.ve3wmb@...> wrote:
Dave et al :

I have a separate browser window that I keep open with both WSPRNET and APRS.fi tabs so I 
can quickly check to see what U3B-25 is up to on a daily basis. As Jack, W8TEE said, it has been a 
lot of fun to keep tabs on it. 

It was very interesting to track both U3B-25 and the SA6BSS BSS-18 balloons as they were neck and neck 
from about Feb 29th until March 14th, when BSS-18 went silent somewhere off the coast of Ireland. 

We will be looking at the spots from both Balloons for that period to see how well beaconing on 20m only compared to 
Dave's strategy of 30m/20m.  We are trying to come up with a Beaconing strategy for our Aries-1 Balloon and this
occurence presents a unique opportunity to pretty much rule out propagation as a variable because the two balloons were
geographically so close for one global circumnavigation. 

Congratulations again Dave, your work has been inspirational to all of us. 

Cheers

Michael VE3WMB 

VE3KCL
 

Hi Joe Street
You are quite correct in thinking that there is no effort made by me to retrieve the balloon and transmitter when it comes down.
I too am upset by the amount of junk and garbage that is scattered over the beautiful mountains of the world.
If you have climbed before, you will well know that the garbage found on these mountains is mostly left by climbing enthusiasts who consciously chose not to carry the garbage back home with them.
Since the world is covered by 71% sea water the chances of  a balloons falling on a land mass are more like 30%.. on the land mass if you consider a mountain to be 4000' or higher, this may represent about 4% of the world's surface.
The most likely death of a balloon will be in the ocean (71%), where the electronic components would shortly be dissolved by sea water and balloons would float around till they decomposed. Jim N2NXZ retrieved a balloon that had been outside in a tree
from a bad launch a few years ago and it was badly de-laminated and would have broken down further as time went on. This balloon plastic does not last forever like garbage bags.
So to your concern these balloons will litter mountains ... I would say there is a very small chance that anyone would ever notice a clear balloon on the side of the mountain... just think of how small a percentage of mountain areas have pathways that access the top of them. 
I would say very conservatively 1/1000 of a mountain's surface might have a path that climber could see a fallen  balloon from and say " what is this balloon garbage doing up here on this pristine mountain"...  that would be conservatively 4% of the world (mountain surface) /1000 . This comes to a chance of about 1 in 25000 flights anyone could find a balloon on a mountain and be bothered by it's garbage value... so in the interest of science, I personally do not consider these experiments an assault on pristine mountains.... in fact by these estimates I would require a additional 24950 flights before I had a decent chance of mountain littering.
I too do not like the idea of letting the balloon and radio decompose somewhere on the earth as a few grams of garbage but it is gradually biodegradable... .. at this point, the technology we are pioneering is not developed enough for finding the downed balloon... but that could change in the future, I hope.  I regret that you feel badly about these by the experiments.
Regards, Dave VE3KCL

Joe Street
 

We sure did.  It was party balloons actually probably from some kid in Vancouver but garbage all the same and I guess the same happens with the tech balloons.  I don't want to be a spoil sport and I hope my comment wasn't taken that way, but just hoping to bring a different perspective in on it.

Joe


On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 11:31 AM jjpurdum via Groups.Io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hopefully, when you found that radio balloon on some pristine mountain top, you picked it up and disposed of it properly.

Jack, W8TEE


On Monday, March 25, 2019, 11:26:27 AM EDT, Joe Street <racingtheclouds@...> wrote:


I get the excitement and all.....the only thing that dismays me about this interest is that the baloon and its payload end up as garbage somewhere in this world.  I have found garbage of this sort on the summits and shoulders of pristine mountains and that makes me sad.

Joe ve3vxo

On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 10:14 AM Michael Babineau <mbabineau.ve3wmb@...> wrote:
Dave et al :

I have a separate browser window that I keep open with both WSPRNET and APRS.fi tabs so I 
can quickly check to see what U3B-25 is up to on a daily basis. As Jack, W8TEE said, it has been a 
lot of fun to keep tabs on it. 

It was very interesting to track both U3B-25 and the SA6BSS BSS-18 balloons as they were neck and neck 
from about Feb 29th until March 14th, when BSS-18 went silent somewhere off the coast of Ireland. 

We will be looking at the spots from both Balloons for that period to see how well beaconing on 20m only compared to 
Dave's strategy of 30m/20m.  We are trying to come up with a Beaconing strategy for our Aries-1 Balloon and this
occurence presents a unique opportunity to pretty much rule out propagation as a variable because the two balloons were
geographically so close for one global circumnavigation. 

Congratulations again Dave, your work has been inspirational to all of us. 

Cheers

Michael VE3WMB 

Joe Street
 

Just saw your comment Dave

Yes the climbers I know pack stuff out rather than leave it and the same applies whether I am paddling my kayak on the sea or hiking a trail somewhere, it's not just the mountains I love, but they do tend to collect surprising things.  I found charred cornstalk in a glacier above 16k ft down in Mexico where they seem to think that the solution to garbage is to burn everything!  The garbage sure is piling up in this world but the population just keeps rising.  Anyhow I hope you weren't offended by my comment as you seem to have taken it a little personally.  I wasn't trying to offend anyone.  Congrats on your balloon flight.

Joe


On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 12:35 PM VE3KCL <airdry@...> wrote:
Hi Joe Street
You are quite correct in thinking that there is no effort made by me to retrieve the balloon and transmitter when it comes down.
I too am upset by the amount of junk and garbage that is scattered over the beautiful mountains of the world.
If you have climbed before, you will well know that the garbage found on these mountains is mostly left by climbing enthusiasts who consciously chose not to carry the garbage back home with them.
Since the world is covered by 71% sea water the chances of  a balloons falling on a land mass are more like 30%.. on the land mass if you consider a mountain to be 4000' or higher, this may represent about 4% of the world's surface.
The most likely death of a balloon will be in the ocean (71%), where the electronic components would shortly be dissolved by sea water and balloons would float around till they decomposed. Jim N2NXZ retrieved a balloon that had been outside in a tree
from a bad launch a few years ago and it was badly de-laminated and would have broken down further as time went on. This balloon plastic does not last forever like garbage bags.
So to your concern these balloons will litter mountains ... I would say there is a very small chance that anyone would ever notice a clear balloon on the side of the mountain... just think of how small a percentage of mountain areas have pathways that access the top of them. 
I would say very conservatively 1/1000 of a mountain's surface might have a path that climber could see a fallen  balloon from and say " what is this balloon garbage doing up here on this pristine mountain"...  that would be conservatively 4% of the world (mountain surface) /1000 . This comes to a chance of about 1 in 25000 flights anyone could find a balloon on a mountain and be bothered by it's garbage value... so in the interest of science, I personally do not consider these experiments an assault on pristine mountains.... in fact by these estimates I would require a additional 24950 flights before I had a decent chance of mountain littering.
I too do not like the idea of letting the balloon and radio decompose somewhere on the earth as a few grams of garbage but it is gradually biodegradable... .. at this point, the technology we are pioneering is not developed enough for finding the downed balloon... but that could change in the future, I hope.  I regret that you feel badly about these by the experiments.
Regards, Dave VE3KCL

VE3KCL
 

Hi Joe Street
No offence .... from my statistical viewpoint, I believe I am not being a mountain litterbug. Since the balloon littering topic had not been discussed, I wanted to chime in with my 2 cents.
Regards, Dave VE3KCL

Casey Halverson
 

All this garbage talk aside, do you have a write up on the type of weather balloon you are using? As well as the regulations for small balloon launches? I take it that the components are small enough to where release mechanisms, radar reflectors, etc. are not required?  

Are you having a NOTAM posted or is it small enough to where that is not necessary?

I have been following this list for a while, but I haven't seen any specifics posted -- excuse me if I am asking obvious questions. 

Thanks,
Casey



On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 8:49 AM VE3KCL <airdry@...> wrote:
A U3B balloon has never managed to fly around the world twice before, and now -25 is on it's 3rd lap, over Egypt at the moment.
The greatest distance that has ever been logged on one of these flights is now at 82000km... quite good mileage for  90 cents worth of hydrogen.
It is quite possible that this flight longevity may be related to timing ... this time of the year has high winds and less high clouds, which ice up balloons.
... or more likely some very good luck.
http://www.qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b25.html
73 Dave 

G Hopper
 

Casey,

There have been a couple of discussions over the years regarding legal issues both here in the US and world wide here in the forum.  As a lawyer, a ham, and an experimenter, I tend to keep track of those discussions even when I don't participate because they come in handy both for personal interest as well as professionally (there's some amount of aviation overlap in my practice here in the shadow of Boeing.)  If you want to search the forum, you'll find several excellent discussions.

Among threads that touch on the topic(s) are "U3S10 launch fail" from May of 2017, with Joe WB9SB's post #14326 under the title "U3S10 launch fail & not being a killjoy" being a good summary that doesn't involve getting bulled by a lawyer :-)   "The Darkest Day of the Year coming(for Balloons)" is another one with much amusement contained within (beware of frozen chickens ;-) and "HF beacons for US launched balloons" is another long thread with information.  I note with some amusement that most all the discussions of this type seem to start around this time of year.  I shall add this one to my list!

As an aside, I was discussing you (well you and your hamshield) at the MDC Saturday and when I took a moment to go to the site to confirm some data, I was blown away by the new items there.  Awesome work!  Might have to get you back to the MDC soon!

73,
Grant
KB7WSD


On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 3:11 PM Casey Halverson <spaceneedle@...> wrote:
All this garbage talk aside, do you have a write up on the type of weather balloon you are using? As well as the regulations for small balloon launches? I take it that the components are small enough to where release mechanisms, radar reflectors, etc. are not required?  

Are you having a NOTAM posted or is it small enough to where that is not necessary?

I have been following this list for a while, but I haven't seen any specifics posted -- excuse me if I am asking obvious questions. 

Thanks,
Casey



On Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 8:49 AM VE3KCL <airdry@...> wrote:
A U3B balloon has never managed to fly around the world twice before, and now -25 is on it's 3rd lap, over Egypt at the moment.
The greatest distance that has ever been logged on one of these flights is now at 82000km... quite good mileage for  90 cents worth of hydrogen.
It is quite possible that this flight longevity may be related to timing ... this time of the year has high winds and less high clouds, which ice up balloons.
... or more likely some very good luck.
http://www.qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b25.html
73 Dave 

Steven Weber
 

I have found plenty of party balloons stick in trees in the Appalachian mountains. Once loose, those helium balloons need to come down somewhere. A friend of mine found one of those NOWA weather balloons in his back yard. Had a bunch of interesting, but basically useless parts in it.

 

With all the commercial air traffic, a high flying balloon capable of going half way around the world could pose an air traffic hazard. Hard to say what it would do to a jet engine if it got sucked into one. Sure the chances are diminishingly small, but if there is any chance at all of something happening, eventually it will. The balloon will be following the jet stream and so do a lot of commercial jets, so maybe the chance isn’t so diminishing.

 

Anyway, not something I’d loose a lot of sleep worrying about. I don’t fly 😊

 

Steve KD1JV

 

 

Hi Joe Street
No offence .... from my statistical viewpoint, I believe I am not being a mountain litterbug. Since the balloon littering topic had not been discussed, I wanted to chime in with my 2 cents.
Regards, Dave VE3KCL

_._,_._,_

 

HF
 

Hi Dave,

My homebrew 20m Bird Yagi Uda points where-ever I think a balloon with a 20m transmitter is, and it's very exciting when I see a spot.  I was very pleased when it picked up your balloon on its way across the Pacific.  This time, I noticed that it picked up more "2nd" lines than "1st" lines.  That is, it didn't get the first 2-minute transmission, but did get the 2nd, more often than it got the fist but not the second.  Any idea why this could happen?

Halden VE7UTS

VE3KCL
 

Ok so here is the best  American home grown balloon littering story... I have ever heard of...https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/562556/cleveland-balloonfest/
73 Dave

VE3KCL
 

Hi Halden
On this flight I did not use a battery or a supercap, only 2x22uf caps on the solar cell input.... so once the 10 minute frame sequence sequence starts, the first transmission after warmup, is regular wspr 30m followed by telemetry wspr 30m and then the 20m sets.. if the solar cells turn away from the sun, or the power is marginal in the morning and the evening ... the system resets and waits  for a 3.6v line voltage ,sipping less than 1 ma. before it will restart it's calibration... sometimes this is 1/2 hr later if you inspect the spot data.
Hans has designed a basic interpreter for the programming of the U3B and it allows incredible flexibility in setting up the balloon transmitter in English any way you want it to work.
I felt in a marginal power situation, it was best to get away a 30m regular wspr transmission first that gives a rough position  so I would know the toy is still alive. This sometimes helps on the first and last spot where solar power is scarce.
That being said .. with a battery on board there is never this kind of problem but I did save 1.5 grams and it was a test of a flight without a battery.

73 Dave

VE3KCL
 

Halden 

To finish answering the question of receiving telemetry on 20m and not the original wspr tx on 20m.... The 30m antenna is quite poor radiating  on 20m... perhaps 7 to 9 db below a normal 20m dipole. It is possible that on minute 6 when you would normally receive the first normal wspr 20m transmission there was another station transmitting near that frequency on 20 every time ( as wspr people are know to do every 10 minutes )... this happens the other way around too and only the first tx is heard on 20m and not the following tele. It does not take much to swamp such a weak signal.
73 Dave

HF
 

Hi Joe and others

I am pleased to read that other hams are concerned, as I am, about the garbage problem to which disposable radio balloons contribute.  Thank you, Joe, for raising the issue.

Yes, it's unlikely that a human will encounter one of 29% the radio balloons that falls on land.  However, that doesn't mean it's not garbage or not bad.  Humans are not the only creatures on this planet who are harmed by humans' garbage.  Furthermore, I do not discount the other 71% of the balloons that become garbage in the ocean either.  Yes, the components of the circuit will decompose in perhaps hundreds of years, but only the exposed metals will decompose within the first few years in the ocean.  The circuit board, ICs, and other components will probably last longer than we will.  The mylar balloon will not decompose rapidly in the ocean.  It will last a long time and would probably kill a creature if ingested.  It will become part of the ocean plastic crisis.  See http://plastic-pollution.org/ for an introduction and links to other articles describing various facets of the crisis.

To me, launching a radio balloon is equivalent to throwing the equivalent amount of garbage into the sea or forest.  Rationalizing it as a tiny amount of garbage relative to the enormity of the global garbage problem doesn't satisfy me.  On the other hand, I am eager to participate in this part of the ham radio hobby once I learn a bit more and Hans introduces the U3B.

When I accidentally lose a piece of garbage to the wind while hiking and am unable to retrieve it, I make a special effort to pick up at least that much trash on my way back.  Similarly, I have considered coupling a personal effort to pick up ocean trash or a donation to https://www.theoceancleanup.com/ or https://oceanconservancy.org/  to a future balloon launch.  Still, I'm not quite comfortable with this either, as it reeks of "emissions trading".

I would welcome further discussion and exploration on how we can continue these high-altitude propagation and metrology experiments while contributing to environmental solutions rather than being part of the problem.

Halden VE7UTS

HF
 

Thanks, Dave, for the comments on the possibilities around what could be causing this.  On one occasion when I picked up the second line I was in my radio room and examined the waterfall display in the WSJT program.  This time, there were no other strong signals competing with the 1st transmission segment.  But I didn't analyze the other cases.  It sounds like there isn't a reason in the power system for this - the way you have it set up, missed parts of transmission pairs would be randomly distributed.  For now, I'll presume that it was a combination of randomness and some signal swamping.
The 30m antenna transmitting on 20m just generated another idea...Could a tiny LC trap be installed in the antenna to make it resonant on either band?
BTW, congratulations on your very cool achievement!
Cheers
Halden VE7UTS

john
 

First it was "we're going to crash airliners", then it was "I'm going to report you all to the FCC for not having a control operator" now we're going to destroy the planet with a handful of tiny balloons.

There's some homeowners association's missing their inspectors!

This makes me want to go see if there are any surplus Hindenburgs I can let free.

John K5MO

HF
 

John,
This is a hobby.  We're here to support each other in our shared interests. We're here to have fun.
Your sarcasm and twisted, false characterizations of some of my prior posts do not serve that mission.  If you feel compelled to express yourself by insulting others, please take it to a non-ham radio forum.
If you aren't concerned about a topic you see discussed here, simply scroll to the next post.
-Halden VE7UTS