05/05/16 – Club Update

Ok so yesterday was the second club gathering of the summer term and we welcomed another new member from Y5 (the club is proving very popular).


First an announcement – I was able to tell the club that we had secured some more funding, courtesy of the Vivian Moon Braunton Community Trust Fund, who have very kindly granted us £200 towards our project. We are now well on the way to our target.


Following the successful fund raising last term we have started to gather some of the necessary hardware, starting with some of the communications gear, which includes the following:

  • Pi In The Sky Board (PITS) (Contains the GPS and Radio Transmitter for the payload)
  • 2 x Ultra High Frequency (UHF) whip antennas (For testing)
  • 1 x Stubby UHF Antenna
  • Software Defined Radio (SDR) USB Dongle (receives the signal from the payload at mission control)
  • Pi Zero (On loan due to short supply of A+ and B+ Raspberry Pis)

Demonstration and Research

Following a quick demonstration of how to connect, and use the radio transmitter and receiver the club member were given another research task. The task was to answer some more HAB related questions.

Radio Communication 

To receive and decode the signal  the laptop uses two pieces of software ‘gqrx’ and dl-fldigi’, these are both freely available and work on both Mac OS X and Windows as well as some other OS.


(Pic showing R820T2 SDR Dongle and Macbook running gqrx and dl-fldigi)

First Field Test

Once everyone had completed the research task we set off on a field test (school playground and school field). Two of the club members took the test payload containing the Pi Zero and PITS board up to the end of the school field and the remainder monitored the laptop which was connected to the SDR dongle and UHF antenna.

Once outside whilst we were able to pick up and decode the signal from the payload, we were unable to transmit this via the Internet to HabHub. This may be due to the proxy setup and filter on the schools network, we can access HabHub but it may be possible that we cannot send information to it? This issue will need to be investigated and resolved but this afternoon was a partial success. As usual as a reward for their input during the club the last 15 minutes of the club night was spent playing video games!

(Pic showing payload test team and temporary payload with GPS and UHF antenna, we discussed that the payload definitely needs decorating, even if it is just for trials!!)

Next week we will carry out another test but this time we will hope to have a Web Camera setup on the payload to take pictures and send these to the receiver for viewing.


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