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Cornell Grad Students Go Ballooning (Again)

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the ithaca-is-gorges dept.

Transportation 58

ballooner writes "A group of Cornell University graduate students are attempting to break the Amateur Radio Ballooning duration record this weekend. The project is a continuation from last year when some other Cornell grad students broke the altitude record. The progress of the team can be tracked via their Twitter feed or by monitoring their APRS beacons. For all the HAMs out there, downlinks are available on a 30m wavelength, too."

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We're not HAMs (4, Informative)

Mr_Perl (142164) | about 5 years ago | (#27640695)

It's not HAM, it's ham. It's not an acronym.


Re:We're not HAMs (0, Offtopic)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#27640819)

"I have a ham radio."

Re:We're not HAMs (4, Funny)

gaderael (1081429) | about 5 years ago | (#27641139)

I have a ham sandwich

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | about 5 years ago | (#27641385)

I'm just a ham comedian

Re:We're not HAMs (0)

catmistake (814204) | about 5 years ago | (#27641419)

She split her cherry on my ham.

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 years ago | (#27642099)

[citation needed]

Wikipedia webpage reference or it didn't happen.

Re:We're not HAMs (2, Informative)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 5 years ago | (#27642741)

Etymology of ham radio [wikipedia.org]
False etymologies

One alternate explanation is that "ham" is a shortened version of "ham-fisted", meaning clumsy. This is a reasonable conjecture, given that all early amateur radio stations used hand-operated telegraph keys to transmit Morse code, and sending style is referred to as an operator's "fist", so someone who sends badly could be called ham-fisted. But the earliest references to "ham" use only the single word, and there is no evidence that it evolved as a truncation of a longer phrase.
"A little station called HAM"
This widely circulated but fanciful tale claims that, around 1911, an impassioned speech made by Harvard University student Albert Hyman to the United States Congress, in support of amateur radio operators, turned the tide and helped defeat a bill that would have ended amateur radio activity entirely, by assigning the entire radio spectrum over to the military. An amateur station that Hyman supposedly shared with two others (Bob Almy and Peggie Murray), which was said to be using the self-assigned call sign HAM (short for Hyman-Almy-Murray), thus came to represent all of amateur radio. However, this story seems to have first surfaced in 1948, and practically none of the facts in the account check out, including the existence of "a little station called HAM" in the first place. [9][10][11]
"Home Amateur Mechanic" magazine
In this version, supposedly HAM was derived from the initials of a "very popular" magazine which covered radio extensively. But there is no evidence that there ever was a magazine by this name.
It is sometimes claimed that HAM came from the first letter from the last names of three radio pioneers: Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, Edwin Armstrong, and Guglielmo Marconi. However, this cannot be the source of the term as Armstrong was an unknown college student when the term first appeared
Hammarlund legend
Likely an example of corporate wishful thinking, Hammarlund products were supposedly so preeminent in the pioneering era of radio that they became a part of the language of radio. As the story goes, early radio enthusiasts affectionately referred to Hammarlund products as "Ham" products, and called themselves "Ham" operators.[12] In truth, Hammarlund was a minor and barely known company at the time "ham" started to be used.

Re:We're not HAMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641523)

i just ham a comedian

Re:We're not HAMs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641033)

Actually it is an acronym HAm Radio is High Frequency Amateur Radio.

We put the HF in VHF/UHF

73 from the Morehead State Space Tracking Facility

Re:We're not HAMs (-1, Flamebait)

Alrescha (50745) | about 5 years ago | (#27641147)

"Actually it is an acronym HAm Radio is High Frequency Amateur Radio."

and actually, you're making stuff up (and if not you, someone else).


Re:We're not HAMs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641227)

No, not making it up, its in the HAm guide out by the AARL, I work on this equipment as well as a 21 meter space tracking dish daily. I know what I'm talking about. Mod it flame bate, DO IT!

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

epee1221 (873140) | about 5 years ago | (#27647857)

AFAIK, the ARRL does not publish a book called the "Ham Guide," so I'm leaning towards "yes, you are making it up" >_>

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | about 5 years ago | (#27642699)

[PDF]Easy Guidance to Become a HAM What is HAM Radio?
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat [jgpandya.com] - View as HTML [google.com]
HAM, though not an acronym, is used and written with capital letter to show the respect and in remembrance of the three scientists who have contributed in ...

Full relevant quote:

Its origin is attributed to the discovery of three scientists Hertz, Armstrong and Marconi.
HAM,though not an acronym, is used and written with capital letter to show the respect and in remembrance of the three scientists who have contributed in the invention of radio theory and made it possible to use radio communication easy to use.

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

Alrescha (50745) | about 5 years ago | (#27674007)

"HAM, though not an acronym, is used and written with capital letter to show the respect and in remembrance of the three scientists who have contributed in ..."

Right. That's complete bull-puckey. Fiction. Made up.

If you go back ten or twenty years ago, you'll find very few (if any) spellings of ham in capital letters. It's not an acronym, it's not meant to honor anyone, it's just a word. Specifically, if you go read some old QST magazines from the 40s, 50s, or 60s you'll see plenty of references to hams. Not in caps.


Re:We're not HAMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27644849)

Oh, were your feewings hurt? Let me call a wHAMbulance.

Re:We're not HAMs (1)

siriuskase (679431) | about 5 years ago | (#27645811)

http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/history.html#ham [arrl.org]

"Ham: a poor operator. A 'plug.'"

That's the definition of the word given in G. M. Dodge's The Telegraph Instructor even before radio. The definition has never changed in wire telegraphy. The first wireless operators were landline telegraphers who left their offices to go to sea or to man the coastal stations. They brought with them their language and much of the tradition of their older profession.

In those early days, spark was king and every station occupied the same wavelength-or, more accurately perhaps, every station occupied the whole spectrum with its broad spark signal. Government stations, ships, coastal stations and the increasingly numerous amateur operators all competed for time and signal supremacy in each other's receivers. Many of the amateur stations were very powerful. Two amateurs, working each other across town, could effectively jam all the other operations in the area. When this happened, frustrated commercial operators would call the ship whose weaker signals had been blotted out by amateurs and say "SRI OM THOSE #&$!@ HAMS ARE JAMMING YOU."

Amateurs, possibly unfamiliar with the real meaning of the term, picked it up and applied it to themselves in true "Yankee Doodle" fashion and wore it with pride. As the years advanced, the original meaning has completely disappeared.
-Louise Ramsey Moreau W3WRE/WB6BBO

It has to be said (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27640697)

They're fags.

Troll (5, Insightful)

p51d007 (656414) | about 5 years ago | (#27640799)

And the next time a natural disaster hits your area, and your internet, cell phone and every other form of communications is down, say thank you to the "fags" who set up and get the information in and out of your area. 73's KB0GNK

Re:Troll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641001)

73's KB0GNK

It's "73", child. And DEFINITELY no apostrophe. And it's not, in fact, to be used in the plural, so even the "s" is wrong. How many ways can you fuck up in 4 characters.

Re:Troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641171)

I wish slashdot would cover more news about shortwave in general.

Amatuer radio is a very geeky thing to be involved in, it involves both technology AND astronomy.

It's also relevant, shortwave is harder to censor than the internet, it's been used for years to get information in and out of restrictive countries.

Yet.. whenever stories about the BBC, censorship or media distribution, we almost never see anything about shortwave radio.. why is that?

Re:Troll (-1, Troll)

moosesocks (264553) | about 5 years ago | (#27641871)

Uhm. I've been through a fair number of natural disasters.

Never seen a HAM trudging through the snow to inform us that the power was going to be out for the next few days at a minimum.

Never saw a HAM paddling down a flooded street.

Similarly, depending upon a loose-knit team of amateurs for emergency communications is dangerously unreliable. What if all the HAMs in my small town happen to be away on vacation when a disaster strikes?

Leave emergency communications to local law enforcement, kthanksbye, and stop trying to justify your love for anachronistic technologies.

Re:Troll (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27642187)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_emergency_communications [wikipedia.org]

Recent examples include the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the 2003 North America blackout and Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, where amateur radio was used to coordinate disaster relief activities when other systems failed. ...
The largest disaster response by U.S. amateur radio operators was during Hurricane Katrina which first made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane went through Miami, Florida on August 25, 2005, eventually strengthening to Category 5. More than a thousand ham operators from all over the U.S. converged on the Gulf Coast in an effort to provide emergency communications assistance. Subsequent Congressional hearings highlighted the Amateur Radio response as one of the few examples of what went right in the disaster relief effort.

You won't see them paddling down the street or trudging through snow, but converging by the thousands to coordinate the emergency efforts of those who are paddling and trudging.

They are invaluable in times of emergency and crisis. Until local law enforcement has an international network of volunteer radio operators it will never match the resources of HAMs. If you've been through many natural disasters chances are you should be thanking them for their tireless efforts. Communication, coordination and organization between disparate groups is vital in any rescue effort. These HAMs have helped save countless lives the world over, and this may well include yours.

I cannot believe anyone would survive multiple natural disasters and have such a contemptuous attitude toward volunteer rescue workers no matter what their shape. You're either a troll or a dangerously ignorant ungrateful scumbag.

Re:Troll (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | about 5 years ago | (#27643489)

You, Sir/Madam, are a reason why I continue to read AC posts. It's the joys of reading little gems like yours that makes it worth reading at 0. Thank you for writing.

Re:Troll (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27642199)

Leave emergency communications to local law enforcement, kthanksbye, and stop trying to justify your love for anachronistic technologies.

You're an idiot. I happen to know several ham operators who traveled to New Orleans during the disaster with the specific aim of assisting in communications. They worked with what they had, including setting up alternate power sources (read: generators powered by their own fuel, hauled on trailers behind their own trucks). They're never the primary means of communications, but they're damned valuable people when nothing else works. Let's just set aside the fact that their efforts were unpaid and under-appreciated. Next time you want to criticize the volunteer work of others, make sure you're not going to make a total ass of yourself.

Re:Troll (1)

epee1221 (873140) | about 5 years ago | (#27647901)

Leave emergency communications to local law enforcement

Funny... local law enforcement keeps on coming to us.

Re:Troll (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27643239)

Yeah, I'm sure you spend endless hours daydreaming about the moment you save mankind. I'm sure you visualize every detail of the ceremony where the president awards you some medal, you appear on the daily show and CNN and you finally get a girl.

So tell me, how often has that happened?

Re:It has to be said (1)

Arterion (941661) | about 5 years ago | (#27651533)

Funny you should say that -- the one ham radio friend I have is a fag. I met him through an online gay social networking site, and he introduced me to the local 2600 chapter. Funny how that works.

In general, though, I'd have to say that no, ham radio operators AREN'T fags: they're not pretty enough to be.

Cornell students bring new meaning to getting high (-1, Redundant)

xystren (522982) | about 5 years ago | (#27640703)

First post?

Re:Cornell students bring new meaning to getting h (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | about 5 years ago | (#27640829)

Until tomorrow, when the meaning goes back to business as usual.

- Current Cornell student

Re:Cornell students bring new meaning to getting h (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | about 5 years ago | (#27641263)

Ya, but just a couple weeks till slope day!

- Another Cornell Student

Re:Cornell students bring new meaning to getting h (2, Funny)

BTWR (540147) | about 5 years ago | (#27641815)

slope day isnt a fraction of what it used to be.

-Cornell '01 grad...

This is news? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27640801)

Man, talk about a slow news day.

"I'm going to the crapper and tweet how my new suppository is working"

Read the exciting details, as a tweet - out of my arse!

Not just "because" (4, Insightful)

nathan.fulton (1160807) | about 5 years ago | (#27640843)

Apparently there's probably some real research going on. While breaking the record for the sake of breaking the record (and the beautiful pictures) is probably an OK reason, it looks like the grad students are making contributions to research regarding the optimal fuel and material composition for balloons (or, since it's /., "balloons")

It's pretty cool of Lockheed Martin to sponsor the project -- being that high up in a balloon has to be the experience of a life time.

Re:Not just "because" (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 5 years ago | (#27640925)

being that high up in a balloon has to be the experience of a life time.

A pity the balloon is unmanned then.

Re:Not just "because" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641331)

A pity the balloon is unmanned then.

Unmanned, you say. Then it's only an oon.

Re:Not just "because" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27646113)

It's a bit more complicated than that. ELDP is a Lockheed Martin program run in conjunction with local universities. The majority (if not all) of the Cornell grad students involved in this project are Lockheed employees receiving a degree from Cornell as part of Lockheed's ELDP program.

Up, up and away (5, Insightful)

SamMichaels (213605) | about 5 years ago | (#27640877)

What would be really neat is an ATV [wikipedia.org] downlink on UHF so we could watch it. I've always wanted to see the transition where the blue sky disappears.

FYI, APRS [wikipedia.org] is pretty much text messaging for amateur radio. The most popular use is reporting your position (which is what the balloon does), but it's an easy way to pass short digital messages....or even send an email if you're near one of the gateways.

Off topic, but semi-related because of APRS: AT Golden Packet Event [aprs.org] . An APRS packet is relayed up the entire Appalachian Trail.

Disclaimer: IAAH (I Am A Ham). dit-dit.

Re:Up, up and away (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 5 years ago | (#27641017)

I've always wanted to see the transition where the blue sky disappears.

Maybe if enough people see it answers to the question "why can't you see stars during the day?" will finally get better.

Re:Up, up and away (1)

Xandu (99419) | about 5 years ago | (#27645095)

What would be really neat is an ATV downlink on UHF so we could watch it. I've always wanted to see the transition where the blue sky disappears.

Check out Cosmocam's [cosmocam.com] YouTube feed [youtube.com] . It's a project of the CSBF [nasa.gov] to allow people (mostly students) to interact with a camera aboard a high altitude balloon. In their case, the balloons can go much higher and longer than Cornell's. CSBF's balloons can reach 120,000 feet (37 km) and have flown for >50 days.

Thank you for posting us! (5, Informative)

NS3 (1536321) | about 5 years ago | (#27641095)

Calling all amateur radio users with 30 meter recieving capability to listen on 10.1465 MHz. Downlink arrives every 10 minutes on the ten minute mark (UTC). Format of message is N2XE Alt NLat WLong Battery Ballast Please send reports to pbhdata@gmail.com.

Re:Thank you for posting us! (1)

Strider- (39683) | about 5 years ago | (#27642681)

Which mode? I'm guessing CW, but that information would help. :P

Re:Thank you for posting us! (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about 5 years ago | (#27644431)

30 meters is cw only...

30m not CW only (1)

W2IRT (679526) | about 5 years ago | (#27645793)

Ummmm. No.

30m (as defined for the US and Canada) allows pretty much any narrow-band mode; not just CW. No voice or SSTV, but you'll find plenty of RTTY and other digital modes on 30, especially towards the higher part of the band.

Re:30m not CW only (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 5 years ago | (#27646081)


just capture the signal to a uncompressed file and do signal analysis on it. We hams have enough computer filters to run it through... and dont forget about gnuradio.

If anything, its probably psk31, rtty, or cw. And there's only a handful of decent digital modes. You could do the processing in 1 minute, tops for every mode.

Future research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27641421)

I feel like they could improve their efficiency if they somehow used abandoned MediaWiki sites.

amateur students? (5, Insightful)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 5 years ago | (#27642047)

It's really cool and all, but these guys are being paid to do this by an aerospace company (Lockheed) and are graduate researchers. Calling them amateurs and students is slightly insulting (I realize the amateur part is just the way these ballooning things are described, to separate them from NASA, but it's still an unfortunate word in this case).

These guys need to present themselves as professionals for their own sake. Part of the reason school administrators do stupid things like raise grad student tuition and cut grad student benefits is because they do not realize how much on-campus research is done by graduate students. I spent several years when I was in grad school trying to explain to deans, chancellors, and regents that graduate "students" were not just older undergraduates (some of these people were shocked to find out I only took classes for 2 out of 6 years of grad school... they had no idea what science and engineering graduate students do all day).

This kind of stuff drives me crazy. These guys did a great thing, and to play it off as "look what this group of students did" implies this was a small side project done in their spare time, or something a more senior person taught them to do, when this was well funded research which will likely go toward their degrees (and obviously has not been done before). Incidentally, Lockheed Martin's press release [lockheedmartin.com] uses the phrases: young engineers, early career engineers, and employees. The word "student" is not present, only referenced by "employees' graduate studies." They get it.

Re:amateur students? (1)

etherelithic (846901) | about 5 years ago | (#27642969)

You hit the nail right on the head. Incidentally, I work at the Lockheed site that's funding this research, and I also went to Cornell. Let me shed some light on this. These "students" are not really students per se, and are employees of Lockheed Martin who are undergoing their ELDP (Engineering Leadership Development Program). It is a three year program in which you work full time for Lockheed while earning your MEng at Cornell (not a bad deal unless you consider the fact that it only takes 1 year to earn the same degree full time, and, honestly, the surrounding area is depressing as hell, plus you get worked to the bone for 3 years). So in fact, these graduate students are professional Lockheed Martin engineers already.

Re:amateur students? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27643591)

It's amusing when people who aren't a part of something and really don't know what they're talking about make statements on the internet presenting their opinions as fact. Firstly, we are in fact students. While yes, we are professionals at the same time, we are still students. The project is also worked during our off work hours. We do not get paid to take days off from our real engineering job to work this project. Secondly, we are young engineers and early career engineers. There are limits to those who can participate in the program based on the number of years with the company. Thirdly, there is no research being conducted. Any lessons learned from flights are merely passed on to the next years class. This project acts as a vehicle for future leaders at Lockheed Martin to learn the engineering process that our company practices. I can assure you the technical aspect of the project is not the primary driver. No one on the team has had any experience with high altitude balloons before and that does in fact make us amateur balloonists. My final comments are directed towards etherelithic. You seem to contradict yourself saying that we take 3 years to complete a 1 year program but then state that they work us to the bone... To me it sounds like you are either jealous or unhappy with your own academic career. Also, if the surrounding area is so depressing, go find another site to work for. No one's forcing you to stay here.

Re:amateur students? (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 5 years ago | (#27644967)

There is research being done. To claim that there is not during a discussion of how your work was record breaking is a flat out stupid statement. The knowledge transfer process you describe is research. Whatever the official purpose of the project is, academia (which is who I am talking about, and of which I am part) sees this as just another research project.

For the purposes of this activity, you are not students. What you are doing is bringing prestige (and money, either from Lockheed or someone else) to Cornell. Think about why Cornell is not picking up your salary while you're working for them. They should be. (I was in a similar "class" for solid state physic my first year of grad school, and was paid to be there.)

You're a graduate researcher, there are no "off work hours."

You've claimed to be an amateur, but you've obviously shown great skill in ballooning and you have a job as an engineer at an aerospace company. I know it's "cool" to be an amateur in some technical communities, but don't insist on cheapening your work. I'm just saying you deserve better.

Re:amateur students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27645419)

The simple facts are that this project is done on our own time (that is, we don't get paid for our work) and it's part of a degree program at Cornell. That qualifies us as both amateurs and students. We do have corporate sponsorship, but as a member of the academic community you are surely aware that many student projects do. Beyond that point, you are free to form whatever opinions about our project you like, such as whether it's "research" or not.

Correct APRS tracking link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27642797)

Here's the correct aprs.fi link: http://aprs.fi/kc2tua-8 [aprs.fi] - the article uses a CGI argument of callsign= while the correct one would be call=.

Another random high-altitude balloon project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27652291)

We sent up a balloon over the Phoenix area a couple weeks ago.

1 20 year old Army surplus weather balloon.
1 micro-tracker + gps
1 Canon G7 camera

We reached 75K ft, the limitation of the GPS we were using and probably the balloon as well.

The pictures we got back were great.

http://rot26.net/ [rot26.net]

Weather Ballooning at NOAA (1)

bobasaurus (1537179) | about 5 years ago | (#27653611)

I actually make my living designing and launching weather balloon instruments at NOAA. We use 1500 gram latex balloons, filled with helium. Each one rises until the pressure reaches 12mb (about 100,000 feet), at which time a microcontroller pressure sensor circuit cuts off the valve lid to allow a nice smooth descent. Here are some pictures from a camera launched on one: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/Photo_Gallery/Projects/balloon_flight/ [noaa.gov] http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/Photo_Gallery/Projects/flight-11-2-06/ [noaa.gov] (picture number 204 from the first set is my favorite)
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