Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

UK Team Misses Balloon Altitude Record, But Beats a Few Others

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the good-show-and-congratulations dept.

Communications 34

An anonymous reader writes with this report from Hackaday, which recently covered an attempt at the UK altitude record for an amateur balloon launch. Says the story: "Things don't always go as planned, but the APEX team did manage to beat the several other UK records, including ones for the longest distance and flight duration for a latex balloon." The balloon drifted east from its launching point England, being tracked by Ham radio operators for much of the way, but eventually fell out of range, and is suspected to have ended its flight in Poland or Russia: "The APEX team is offering a reward for finding Alpha, so if you see a small styrofoam box in Eastern Europe, drop the APEX boys a line."

cancel ×

34 comments

Pop that balloon (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815060)

A little device to burst the balloon on command, how difficult can that be?

It seems to me that if you want your gear back, you'd better make sure you know in which continent it will land.
From TFA:

The balloon surely burst at this point, so it could have landed anywhere from Poland to Ukraine to Russia.

If I read between the lines, they aren't even 100% sure it actually burst over Eastern Europe. It might as well be somewhere in Siberia or China. Or the Pacific.

And it looks like a styrofoam box, and the alphabet used on it is not the cyrillic one, or Chinese, so a lot of people in the path of that balloon might not understand it. In addition, it looks like a piece of packaging material. Good luck finding it back.

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815078)

It's called a cutdown device. It activates at a specific altitude. If the balloon doesn't reach that altitude, or for that matter a high enough altitude for the balloon to burst, then it won't fire and won't cut down the payload.

Or Mumble Mumble (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815166)

You forget and use a civilian GPS which stops updating above altitude mumble mumble *handwave*.

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815494)

The GPS's used by these groups will work above 60K. And they are standard GPS devices (re: civilian). The better GPS devices use a combination of factors to decide when to shut themselves down. So, altitude alone won't stop them from working. Usually a combination of high altitude and high speed will make them stop working. There are devices that will stop working based on altitude alone. But, you won't find them on any of these flights.

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815834)

There are devices that will stop working based on altitude alone. But, you won't find them on any of these flights.

With as many people as are doing this now, and with as little preparation as they put into sending a $200 camera into space, eventually one of them will send up a device that can't handle the altitude.

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37815996)

Your are correct. I should have qualified that statement. I work with these weather balloons too. My biggest fear is that someone will launch one and not plan well enough and cause problems. Then the rules will be made more restrictive. On our flights we always have two different GPS devices and two APRS transmitters tied to separate electrical circuits with separate batteries. We had antenna problems with one on one flight. This redundancy saved us.

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37816568)

I launched using a cheap cell phone as my gps tracker + transmitter which logged up to about 17km but didn't transmit between take-off and touch-down because it was going too fast for the cell phone to connect to the tracking server we were using.

Out of two launches we have a 100% sucess rate. :-)

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37822244)

Why *handwave*?

http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/offdocs/itar/p121.htm#C-XV -- part (2)

Re:Or Mumble Mumble (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#37834108)

Actually couldn't remember the exact altitude heh heh heh

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

jplopez (1067608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815176)

Just add a timer to your altimeter, so it goes off after X meters OR T hours, whichever happens first.

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

slydder (549704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815342)

still a GPS tracker should have been involved SOMEWHERE in the project. I mean it's not like it's new tech or anything.

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815866)

still a GPS tracker should have been involved SOMEWHERE in the project. I mean it's not like it's new tech or anything.

If I've got a car, a balloon, a styrofoam cooler, and a foxhunt transmitter, and I regularly do these kind of things, it's perfectly logical to use the kit I'm familiar with and give it a go, regardless of whether or not the petrol to run down the box costs more than a GPS would have.

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37823940)

If they can do that, they can easily add a time threshold.. or have it activate when it travels outside a certain radius.

Did you read to the end of the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37815484)

A little device to burst the balloon on command, how difficult can that be?

It seems to me that if you want your gear back, you'd better make sure you know in which continent it will land.
From TFA:

"Not a bad flight for something that was supposed to take a swim in the North Sea"

Re:Pop that balloon (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815810)

A little device to burst the balloon on command, how difficult can that be?

This is a cooler on a string tied to a balloon - the little device to burst the balloon, cut the string, whatever, would increase the technical complexity of the vehicle by an order of magnitude.

Personally, I'd like an autopilot guided glider to return the camera to my feet (which has been tried...), but that's a whole lot more project than HAM tracking a GPS signal and running it down wherever it may fall.

Re:Pop that balloon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37822324)

Order of magnitude???

It could be a simple as a nicrom wire wrapped around the payload string. When you want to cut it loose, just send a current through the wire - it burns and cuts the string and the payload drops.

With all the electronics already installed in the payload, this is really low tech.

Re:Pop that balloon (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37818302)

A little device to burst the balloon on command, how difficult can that be?

As it turns out, very difficult. The group I work for, JP Aerospace [jpaerospace.com] doesn't burst the balloon directly, but cuts it with a "cutoff" device (which Gordonjcp discusses in another reply [slashdot.org] ). We had a working system up to a few years ago which depended on a particular pyrotechnic formulation. When the company no longer sent the formulation premixed, we spent something like a year attempting to remake that formulation, unfortunately, resulting in an unreliable cutoff. Now, we use a different approach which appears to be more reliable than our original approach.

If I read between the lines, they aren't even 100% sure it actually burst over Eastern Europe. It might as well be somewhere in Siberia or China. Or the Pacific.

It depends on what happened. Maybe they just lost contact with the vehicle at that point (which could be due to burst, batteries running out, or electronics failure). Maybe they have some data indicating the vehicle started to drop.

And it looks like a styrofoam box, and the alphabet used on it is not the cyrillic one, or Chinese, so a lot of people in the path of that balloon might not understand it. In addition, it looks like a piece of packaging material. Good luck finding it back.

You'd be surprised how many people mess with strange things that fall from the sky. :-) If they put contact information on the box and the box falls near a populated area, then there's a good chance someone will find and return it, possibly sans most of the electronics.

Poland or Russia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37815126)

Just look at the map, that is a big guess! with several countries in between. And BTW- what part of Russia? :)

Re:Poland or Russia? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815228)

the part that's above ground.

Re:Poland or Russia? (1)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815668)

I'm surprised they even get overflight authorization for Russia. Colleagues here launch Stratospheric balloon for atmospheric research from Sweden on regular basis and getting overflight privileges for Russia always seems to be a problem. And in central Europe its not easier (for somewhat different reasons). Or did they just launch without asking question? (it could also be that the balloon and payload is sized to be allowed to fly in the EU without restrictions, which may not be the case somewhere else, like, lets say, Russia).

Re:Poland or Russia? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815872)

I haven't read TFA, but I surmise that Russian overflight permission wasn't part of the plan...

UK Team Misses Balloon Altitude Record, But Beats (0)

tracy6413 (2462508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37815138)

UK Team Misses Balloon Altitude Record, But Beats a Few Others: An anonymous reader writes with this report from... http://bit.ly/o0pDeh [bit.ly]

There was a GPS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37815410)

There was a GPS on the balloon - the GPS co-ordinates and altitude are radioed back down and then plotted on a map.
However, they were expecting it to burst and land in the North Sea - hence no point having a cutdown device.

New Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37815824)

if you see a small styrofoam box in Eastern Europe, drop the APEX boys a line.

Even if it's on a shelf at a store. They need a new one.

Another team beat the record yesterday... (3, Informative)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37817014)

The California Near Space Project [california...roject.com] broke the altitude record yesterday.

Re:Another team beat the record yesterday... (4, Informative)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37818082)

136,545 feet! That is 1515 ft more than previous amateur balloon altitude record held by Cornell University at 135,030 (though I don't think Cornell belongs in the amateur catagory but they used amateur radio as secondary freq). Cornell's balloon was a three-story tall zero pressure techology balloon. CNSP is led by amateurs: They have to pay for everything out of their own pocket, and all have day jobs (lead guy services swimming pools for a living).

It was exciting to watch it keep going and going, breaking the 130K mark, getting closer to Cornell's, watching the packet transmission (also on aprs.fi) and see that transmission of 136039 (nine more feet for 1st place!), and it kept going. No more transmissions after 136545, Stratofox http://www.stratofox.org/ [stratofox.org] had couple vehicles and a airplane, they estimated from predicted path where it may be and guessed correctly at Manteca. Saw one packet burst at ground level and found it in someone's backyard (they were helpful in retrieving it). It almost landed in a swimming pool.

The ***highest*** balloon was done by the Japanese (University of Tokyo or Japan) at 172,000 feet. This balloon was huge, they had tractors and cranes and truckloads of gas to fill it. Obviously very expensive, much out of the amateur catagory.

Absolute balloon altitude record (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#37820396)

The absolute balloon altitude record was set by the BU60-1 balloon [isas.jaxa.jp] from the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which reached 53.0 km (173,900 ft) on the morning of 23 May 2002.

Re:Absolute balloon altitude record (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37825746)

thanks for the link. I was too lazy to chase it down but those charts showing balloon size (wow!)

Re:Another team beat the record yesterday... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37821450)

I'd say the question re: Cornell is whether or not it's a student project. If it is a student project, i.e. done by people with a full load of classes and a minimal class project budget then it's clearly within the confines of "amateur" IMO. If it's a major research project with official, separate funding from classes being conducted by faculty, then this is debatable, and I probably wouldn't count it.

How high to burn up on reentry? (1)

kurish666 (1041420) | more than 2 years ago | (#37821156)

Say I wanted to euthanize myself when I'm an old man and go out as a shooting star. Is that even remotely possible with a balloon? Obviously a lot of the normal safety issues could be disregarded.

Re:How high to burn up on reentry? (1)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 2 years ago | (#37822972)

Alas, no. The reason stuff like satellites burn up on reentry is that they are moving at least 28000 km/hr (about mach 24) when they reach the atmosphere. They had to be going that fast to be orbiting to begin with.

A very high altitude drop from initial zero speed will reach a pretty high terminal velocity where the air is thin (even mach 1), but it's nowhere near enough to cause a burn up.

Floater with a ham radio repeater! (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37822078)

Take a look at the ground track, http://www.apexhab.org/alpha/launch-1-data/ [apexhab.org]

What is exciting is consider an amateur radio repeater on a balloon with the balloon, gas, and payload sized just right for a neutral buoyancy at a really high altitude (i.e. 110,000 ft). Then let it drift and see how many ham radio contacts can be done over large areas of land (like for amateur satellites and ISS). There have been high alt balloons carrying repeaters but they usually go up and kablammo, balloon pops and it's all over. Think of getting a balloon to survive the UV enough to get around the world! CNSP is working on a floater (one of their flights in Nov did that, it happened by accident and they want to replicate it). Though only can carry a gps/aprs but maybe.... pack a 2m repeater.

was that latex balloon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832596)

a durex or trojan?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...