Wednesday, May 29, 2013 and general project status

HabHam is a site with forums dedicated towards Ham Radio High Altitude Ballooning. It's an excellent resource for things

They typically use an Arduino and Trackuino for APRS and tracking. We have been planning to use the Byonics MicroTrak AIO for our APRS tracking, but the cost of $320 has been a bit prohibitive. The Trackuino project would cost less than half as much ($120), and John - K8YYZ is an avid Arduino programmer.

I've reached out to a kind member of who has extra Trackuino shields already printed, and he is shipping me two of them. The rest of the parts for the Trackuino are sourced at the following links

In addition, I did some testing with the Baofeng UV5r radio that we were planning on using for our beacon transmitter and termination receiver. Unfortunately, the UV-5r has a time out timer with a maximum value of 5 minutes. This radio generated so much heat that my display turned purple after a 2 minute transmission at it's lowest power setting, and started dropping transmissions. The plan of running the beacon on 5 minutes, off 1 minute (for DTMF termination) is therefore not an option with this radio. 

After discussing this with K8PLW - Dan Saputo, I ordered an Icom 2AT handheld used from Ebay. This radio cost me $40, and is known for it's ruggedness. This can be a sacrificial radio that we can gut out what we need. and utilize it for this project.

Radar Reflector

Reading about the Apteryx High Altitude Balloon project, they mention they used a Radar Reflector from West Marine. We had intended to build our own radar reflector out of some plastic and aluminum tape. For $28, the reflector may hold up better to the extreme measures of space if we use a commercially built reflector.

Balloon Parachute

After quite a bit of research, I've run across some reference to The Rocketman's parachutes. They are inexpensive, and for a 4.7lb payload, a 5 foot chute is what is required. We're planning a 4lb payload (max), so the 5 foot chute should perform perfectly.