Thursday, May 11, 2017

Long distance WSPR/JT65 balloon beaconing made easy?

Beaconing transmitter currently under development by G0UPL
Several dozen high altitude balloons using Hans G0UPL's Ultimate 3S beacon transmitter have been launched over the past 3 years. Of those, approximately 24 have circumnavigated the Earth - quite an amazing feat considering the low cost involved.

In the next few months, the cost and complexity of launching a long-distance balloon will become significantly cheaper. Hans estimates $70.

This will consist of a couple of mylar/foil "party" balloons, helium (available from party stores), miniature solar cells like these and either a AAA battery or a couple of supercapacitors. And of course the transmitter running the appropriate firmware.
Chip labeled "YIC" is GPS module

It's this last item that is currently under development by Hans. After a few test flights, Hans plans to offer this tiny transmitter for sale to others wishing to experiment with this project. A few particulars about the transmitter:

  • Weight - 1.5 grams
  • 20mW RF out
  • Any HF band
  • WSPR and other digital modes
  • Transmits (location, altitude, speed) every 15-20 minutes during daylight; once per hour at night
  • Operates on a voltage of 0.5 to 5.5 volts
  • "Wakes up" and begins transmitting during daylight in the event of low (< 0.5V) overnight voltage

Reverse side
According to Hans, two of the cheap solar cells (linked above) can power the device during daylight hours. These cells have already proven themselves on numerous balloon flights launched be VE3KCL.

Those who are interested in the development of this kit and others from Hans can follow the progress via the QRP-Labs forum.

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