[aprssig] Balloon Found (and OOps!)

Max Harper kg4pid at yahoo.com
Sat May 3 16:49:13 EDT 2014

Let us know what brand/model of GPS that was used so others will know to stay away from it. But it also looks like the problems started way before it ever reached 38,000 feet. The raw data looks to be a mess.


 From: Robert Bruninga <bruninga at usna.edu>
To: TAPR APRS Mailing List <aprssig at tapr.org> 
Cc: "APRS at yahoogroups.com" <aprs at yahoogroups.com>; Paul Daly <m141440 at usna.edu>; Jeremy Bottomley <m140570 at usna.edu>; amsat bb <amsat-bb at amsat.org>; Jin Kang <kang at usna.edu> 
Sent: Saturday, May 3, 2014 2:50 PM
Subject: [aprssig] Balloon Found (and OOps!)

Crowded Air space today over PA!

Saturday morning, launched the Naval Academy Balloon (W3ADO-11) from Harpers FY and noticed two other balloons launched about the same time (W3EAX-9 and 11) about 40 miles north.  All was going fine until...

Our sincere apologies to MD, VA, PA, DE and NJ!  At about 3000' our balloon Arduino processor got stuck in a reset-loop and switched from 1 minute rate to one packet as fast as it could re-boot.  Less than every 2 seconds!  Fortunately they were direct only and at 100 millliwatts.

Fortunately, we could still see some packets from the W3EAX balloons, and APRS.FI seems to have copied them all. 

Then ours went nuts! and appears to have come down very fast, and we raced to towards the impact point (20 miles away), but then 20m later, we got one packet at 38,000 feet 20 miles farther east.  Then another race though Amish country and to our horror, the last position report was within 0.1 mile of the river and still at 2000 feet and heading right out to the middle!

We were about to give up the search (no more packets heard and river current pretty swift) when our back up system (SPOT system?) gave another report about 60 feet from the water.  Low an behold, there it was, 60 feet from waters edge after having flown almost 100 miles.

Everything intact includeing HDTV video camera!

Apparently the students used a non-high-altitide GPS and it went squirrely until it got back below 38,000 feet.  But you should see the track (W3ADO-11)

Bob, Wb4APR

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