2013 High Altitude Balloon Launch
A balloon built by John Gorkos was launched from Highway 9 and Bethelview Road on Saturday August 10th.
The payload was about a 10 inch cube, containing 3 cameras, an APRS 500mw transmitter, GSM tracker, GPS Receiver and AA lithium battery packs.
The balloon proved to be the little engine that could, slowly gaining altitude and dodging summer thunderstorms for a 13 hour flight. The balloon never reached a high enough altitude to burst, it just cooled and contracted- loosing lift and drifting down to earth overnight.
So where did it go?
This map is generated from the website aprs.fi with map data provided by google. APRS.fi receives APRS data from all over the world heard by digipeaters, or RF to Internet gateways. It automatically disregards duplicate packets (since many RF stations can hear the same packet from a HAB) and charts the balloons progress for us.
The red dots are actual position reports received over APRS, the light purple line is the estimated path when there were gaps in signal coverage. The balloon had an interesting time floating around the town of Wahalla, SC for a little over 4 hours varying altitude from roughly 36-42000 feet.
We lost RF coverage of the balloon reports when it descended below 3654 feet. APRS.fi calculated the light green circle based on its rate of decent, estimating the touchdown of the balloon in that area. Several people have made their own calculations, and the consensus is the balloon continued its track to the Northeast, touching down a few miles south of the NC state line.
UPDATE! The balloon was found in a tree almost due east of the last reported position. That puts it on the ground faster and much farther south than we anticipated at about 35 8.16 N 82 0.48 W
How did it get there?
This graph is generated from the APRS position reports downloaded from APRS.fi. A couple of notes about what this chart is trying to show:
- The Altitude of the balloon at any given time (the green lines)
- The relative speed the balloon was traveling at that time (the red line)
- The time it was hovering over Wahalla (the yellow highlight on the X axis)
Obviously the balloon was never traveling at 10,000 mph as would seem to be indicated by the line relative to the Y axis. In order to make the speed of the balloon (easily- I was lazy) appear on the graph I had to multiply the actual mph by 1,000. So 10,000 actually means 10 mph, but the ups and downs of the red line do give you a sense of the speed changes over time.
Thanks to everyone who through hard work or generous donation made this possible.