Friday, April 29, 2016

Balloon circumnavigation

It would appear that VE3KCL's S-9 balloon is now QRT as no signals have been received from it in two days. The stats on this balloon are amazing - who would have thought it would circle the earth and return to Canada after a flight of 30,000 miles?!

I was surprised when it crossed into Europe and thought that would be the end of the flight - that it couldn't possibly fly farther after such an indirect and lengthy trip across the Atlantic. How wrong I was.

You might think this would be one for the record books but check out Balloon PS-46 (another "party store" type mylar balloon) from VK3YT. The payload consisted of a GPS receiver, JT9/WSPR transmitter, battery and solar cell:

Perhaps the best aspect of these balloons is the amazement they generate beyond the ham community. These truly are amazing feats that are recognizable as such to just about anyone with so much as an iota of curiosity about the world.

Regardless of how long you've been a ham, if you're bored in this hobby, it's because you've allowed yourself to become bored.



  1. For a little while, back in 2008, my friends and I held the record for time aloft and distance (via our "Spirit of Knoxville" project). We were attempting to be the first to cross the Atlantic -- and we came pretty darn close. I am no longer actively involved in the community, but it's great to see the progress that has been made in just a few years. In those days, it was all duct tape and baling wire, but I think there are some well-established patterns for people to follow now. Some of the best amateurs are now having flights as long as the pros.

    1. There's a group in Germany experimenting with a similar type of balloons but with the addition of a tiny camera/video transmitter installed. I hope this flight and others like it inspire G0UPL to develop a kit similar to what was used on S-9 for the non-Arduino crowd!