[aprssig] Balloon Found (and RANT)

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Sun May 4 17:40:12 EDT 2014

I expected to be pilorized for our software glitch that resulted in a 2
second rate for over an hour, (while there were two other balloons in range
too).  But I never saw a single active APRS mobile anywhere near their
launch or recovery sites that I could contact!

It AMAZES me how a university launching 2 balloons does not have a single
APRS mobile showing on the map for the launch or the chase.  Or do they
just launch them as throw-aways?  I saw not one single APRS mobile
converging on their two balloon impact points (which unfortunately) was in
dense trees on a mountain.

If they had anyone on APRS, I could have sent a message and asked if they
needed any search help (after we found ours).  But no, just like those
confounded transmit-only trackers, we now have balloon events with the
launch and recovery teams not making themselves available at-all to the
surrounding radio community.

Nor doing the simple thing of posting APRS BULLETINS live on the air about
that is going on...  That is one of the main valus of APRS, tactical
real-time distribution of info to everyone in the area.

And making themselves "seen" so they can be contacted..

Remember, the FREQ field was added to APRS a decade ago so that people can
not only see where you are, but how to contact you.  And both Kenwood and
Yaesu have responded with radios that do that.  But half of the hams with
those radios don't even bother turning on the feature.

You can drive right buy these guys who are blasting away on the amateur
radio band, but giving no clue where they are listening.

Also, we have had Voice Alert now for over a decade so that ANY APRS mobile
operator can be contacted by VOICE on the APRS channel, but again, the
majority of APRS operators ignore this very fundamental and powerful aspect
of APRS.

See http://aprs.org/VoiceAlert3.html

RANT off.


On Sat, May 3, 2014 at 3:50 PM, Robert Bruninga <bruninga at usna.edu> wrote:

> 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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