Lost Contact With Balloon, Looking For Listeners.

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by WB9SBD, Sep 11, 2012.

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  1. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    [SIZE=-1]Last Sunday evening The High Altitude Balloon Group Near Space Sciences[/SIZE] <small>launched EarthBreeze II, their 51st of these high altitude balloon experiments. We have been doing these flights for almost 25 years now and are always trying something new.

    All was going well for the first three hours of flight. Then as it was nearing the coldest altitude, It began to operate oddly.</small> <small>Maybe some background of the flight is in order here first. Please go to the following web page to learn all about this flight. It is a very unique flight.


    Ok, symptoms of behaving oddly. As I said as the payload traveled into the colder parts of it's journey, one of the last telemetries had it being -47 deg C! The RTTY transmissions were designed to have a 200 Hz shift. controlled by a crystal. As the flight continued on, this shift was widening. towards the end it was almost double at about 400 Hz shift. Also additional symptoms were the actual frequencies were rising higher and higher in the waterfall audio passband. Towards the end almost a full KC higher than intended. This of course was also controlled by a crystal. So being nearly -50 deg C it was expected.

    But what started to happen next was not expected. The transmitter was set to transmit at 15 seconds after the minute. This was being controlled by the clock in the GPS system. It was slowly transmitting later and later and later, and nearly a full minute late towards the end.

    Then the last transmissions heard were very strange. Longitude position of -184 degrees? It should have parked at this time at near 70 thousand feet. Then the last transmission came down, and it was a very wide shift RTTY signal probably close to 500 Hz and did not have enough time to adjust the software for a decode. in addition in the short transmission, what 10 seconds? it swept in frequency a good 400 Hz down in the waterfall.

    That was the last anyone has heard from it.

    Now we are asking for everyone to listen for it. Unless the electronics were actually damaged by the cold, once they thaw out, this should start to transmit again. even if the on-board batteries die it should still transmit during the day because of the solar panels. If it's still flying it may still be froze up since it's in a location where last checked it is -55 deg C, but it has to come down eventually, and then it will warm up, if it hasn't landed already. Even on the ground this can be heard, pre launch it was being heard by several stations via skip.

    So we are looking for people to try to hear this run away payload. unless it was damaged, it should eventually come back to life.

    Any info or questions feel free to ask.

    Joe WB9SBD
    Mission Director
    Near Space Sciences
  2. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    This is rather jumbled and confusing. Way too much information. How about just posting a map with the track, last known position and transmitter frequency!
  3. W9DTC

    W9DTC Ham Member QRZ Page

    From the provided link, i quote:

    ANTENNA: Vertical Wire Dipole
    TRANSMITTER: 500 milliwatt RTTY and CW Transmitter.
    FREQUENCY: USB And a Dial Frequency of: 10.145
    RTTY Tones will appear at approximately 1600 and 1800 in the waterfall. CW will appear at the 1800 point.
    RTTY is 200hz shift, 110 Baud, 8 Bit, None Parity, 1 Stop.

    Flight information: http://www.qsl.net/nss/earthbreeze-flight-room.html
  4. K8MHZ

    K8MHZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It would be nice to know where it was launched from.
  5. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok Launched from Southwest Wisconsin. Last know Location Just North of Rockford IL.


    That does not matter! Because this is not just line of sight, it is on 30 meters. people all around the globe can hear it if the ionosphere propagates it.

    When it was sitting on the ground before liftoff people from all across the USA was hearing it. So you do NOT need to be local to the flight. Matter of fact you are better needed if you are not local because ground wave is only going to go a few miles at best, but a skip window could be huge and you need to be far away for tht.

  6. K5CO

    K5CO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Southwestern Wisconsin? You fellows should be trout fishing.
    OK, will listen on 30 meters as well as let the Argo run and check it now and then.
    Sounds like fun.
  7. KC9XG

    KC9XG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, and I thought it was launched from Area 51 which would explain the secret launch location and track.

    Would be helpful to know its last known location and track, in the event it came down near one of the "listeners".

    Bill KC9XG
  8. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    See Post #5?

    Between Rockford IL and janesville, WI.

  9. KC9XG

    KC9XG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Between Rockford, IL and Janesville, WI is not particularly helpful. Please provide last known location and heading. Which way was it headed? With the vague locations given it could be headed anywhere, including my QTH sw of Chicago.

    Whatever goes up must come down. The vertical dipole antenna would likely be collapsed or destroyed when it hit the ground. Maybe, just maybe, the transmitter is still functioning but without an effective antenna, it would not be very efficient. Someone might be able to hear it via groundwave and use this to locate it. Users along a forecasted track could be alerted, if the forecasted track is not classified information<grin>.

    Bill KC9XG
  10. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am hearing occasional bursts of a really bloopy sounding FSK signal on that frequency. I don't have a digi interface hooked up at the moment, so I haven't tried decoding it. I heard one short burst of erratic sounding CW on the frequency, too, but it hasn't returned and I was not near the radio when it happened. I think the FSK bursts are about 5 minutes apart. The signals are about S9. There are WINMOR and packet signals around it, too. That seems to be a popular place for tuning up today, too. From 70,000 feet I would not be surprised to hear it direct here in Minnesota.
  11. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Here is one of the last tracking displays
  12. N7LOH

    N7LOH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm hearing faint cw intermittently on 10.145mhz.It's just in my noise floor which is running an s4/5 with my filter on.Off and it's lost inside an s-7 to 8.Could be just a qso going on that I'm hearing a little bit of.
  13. KG4FET

    KG4FET Ham Member QRZ Page

    you don't need an interface just a 1/8" mini jumper from mic/line in to the ext spkr or head phone jack on the radio and software to decode the various modes
    73 es God Bless America
    Sandor KG4FET
  14. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    and it's nothing really exotic RTTY wise. if you have a program where you can tell the rtty the paramaters you can decode it, and that would be awesome.

  15. K2HAT

    K2HAT Premium Subscriber Staff Member QRZ Page

    APRS on the balloon?
  16. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    somewhat. Not the traditional like 144.39 2 meter packet type of aprs. but an HF version that does the exact same thing except using RTTY. thats where the screen shot came from.

  17. KF7PCL

    KF7PCL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Off topic but maybe you should have used some sort of OCXO to heat the crystals and heat sensitive components just enough to keep them reasonably stable.
    Using standard power resistors and a well insulated container, the power consumption should only be a few watts.
  18. WB9SBD

    WB9SBD Ham Member QRZ Page

    A few watts on these payloads is a LOT of power. Especially in this flight where the design was for long endurance. For all we know it still could be floating along in the -55 deg C at 70K feet.

  19. KK4KCU

    KK4KCU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Did you use mylar or anything like that to keep it warm (well trap the heat in produced by everything.)? Would listen if I could, sorry you lost your balloon those things are expensive.

    Something like this might work https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11289 (.7a@5v, 3.5 watts). I know that every watt (and pound) counts but, maybe another balloon & extra solar cell might be a good idea if you lose these things do to the cold.
  20. KC9SQR

    KC9SQR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in Rockford, and have passed this on to a bunch of local hams to see if any of us could be of assistance... I hope you can find your lost equipment.. Good luck :)
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