Saturday 20 April 2013

99 Red Balloons, well actually 3 High Altitude Balloons on 434MHz

In my news feed this morning was an innocuous article from the Southgate Amateur Radio News website (which is a must have subscription for anyone interested in amateur radio)

It simply said "Several 434 MHz balloons launch today" but it was enough to pique my interest, the first launch this morning was the NSE/CHEAPO balloon set to launch at 9am from Bicknacre, Chelmsford, Essex, UK.

I was vaguely aware of these balloons and the High Altitude enthusiasts but I had never received or made any attempt at receiving them, but shortly after nine I started up the FUNCube Dongle and tuned to 434.650MHz with the discone in the loft and got a pretty decent signal, which I recognised as being RTTY.

A quick visit to the UKHAS UK High Altitude Society website and I had downloaded the dl-fldigi application which decodes the signal from and uploads the data to a central website.

I didn't have any luck getting a decode from NSE but I was prepared for another attempt, so when I returned home this afternoon I managed to received the AURA balloon which launched from Great Malvern. I received quite a few success data packets which got uploaded.

I also received the last balloon this afternoon launched by the Queen Mary University from the Elsworth Site near Cambridge, around 4pm, but the signal was a little too scratchy for a successful decode.

I have since discovered that the transmitters in these balloons are only 10mW, but because of the line of sight they can manage several hundred miles, but even so the setup I was using wasn't the most efficient for reception.

A similar balloon being launched

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