16/06/16 – Final Preparations

Well the last few days / weeks have been pretty hectic (not just the balloon flight), we have given a mini presentation at our local Pi Jam (Raspberry Pi Club) and have been doing some ground communications testing with the fellas from the Appledore and District Radio Club. We have also placed the last few bits on order, quite important bits none the less (balloon, parachute and gas!!).

Communications Test

The communications tests were carried yesterday at around 17:00. Steve came along with his roof rack antenna stand and brought a selection of antennas to test, one of which was a cross beam Yagi. There were two other Radio Club member there, Alan who I met the previous week and another fella Graham who I realised I knew from the monthly Raspberry Pi Jam, small world. Steve and Alan will be heading up the chase team and Graham will be providing a voice communication link with them so that we can talk to them from Mission Control which will be located adjacent to the launch site. They have also recruited a fourth volunteer who will be manning a repeater along the way. All in all the communications side is pretty much sorted 🙂

Me tinkering with my Log Periodic Antenna

Once we had switched on the tracker in the payload we checked radio reception, Internet connection and upload to HabHub. I was sure I had packed everything but couldn’t for the life of me find the batteries so I had to revert to using a mains adaptor powered from a recently purchased in car 240v inverter (more personal expense). For launch day I will use a packing list in and out of the car!!

To prove communications Alan and I drove up to the top of a nearby hill and waited for Steve and Graham to confirm reception was still good. The chase team reported that we were not transmitting any GPS coordinates and a quick check of the PITS board showed that the GPS light was still red (no location fix). After trying several things I decided that the only change since the last test was the addition of a Lora Board (additional higher speed data communications for images). It took rather a while to remove the board as the header connectors were solid, bizarre considering how easy they went on. Anyway after nearly bending the pins on one of the headers I managed to pry off the Lora Board. This did not fix the problem and we finally decided to try holding the payload outside of the car. Almost immediately we received a green light and all was good!!

Balloon, Parachute and Gas

Well after finally ordering them at 06:00 Wednesday morning a package arrived this afternoon:

The box is a lot smaller than our DIY one that we have been testing with but I did some calculations before ordering and had a test load when it arrived:


Club Night 

It was club night tonight so the children were finishing off a presentation for assembly on Monday to update everyone on the launch and finishing off making ID Badges for the club members to wear on launch day:

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 20.06.38




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