Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade

A statement from the NIBBB on current events

Thank you for visiting our website. Below you will find a little history of our group and information about our current flights. We are now tracking Pico Balloon KD9UQB launched from Antarctica on November 24th 2022. To follow this balloon in flight please visit our Locate and Track Page.

Since our first launch we have flown 25 balloons (actually a little more, we kept some flights to ourselves). Six ended up in trees (we found a fix for that). Six balloons never said hello (we think we have a fix for that). We had eight balloons that traveled the United States. We had nine balloons that left the United States. We had three balloons that almost made it around the world. We have two balloons flying around the world. AA6DY that has made it around the world three times and still flying. K9YO has made it around the world twice and still flying.

On our menu you will find our “Blog” which tracks all of our flights from the most current to tidbits, build sessions and anything that we may have found interesting about our hobby.

The “Earlier Flights” cover from our first launch on September 25th 2021 through our 11th launch on January 26th 2022.

Locate and Track” will provide current launch information, including projected direction, Jetstream and tracking other Pico Balloons around the world.

Our “Technical Page” is continually updated, providing the “How To” information on how you can build and fly a Pico Balloon.

If you like what you see, we hope that you will become a follower and receive posts when published on our Blog. You can become a follower right here on our website by clicking the WordPress link and creeating a username and password, or you can reach me on QRZ 73, Cary KD9ITO

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade, picture taken October 8th 2022

Front row left to right: Gordie Mulley, KD9TVR, Kelsi Mulley KE9LSI, Noah Berg KD9RDT and Mikaela Streicher KD9VIW Back row, left to right: Doug Mulley KD9TPM, Bob Berg KD9RDU, Jim Janiak KD9UQB, Stewart Spies KB9LM, Don Whiteman KK9H, Ken Daniel K9YO, Michael Seedman AA6DY and Cary Willis KD9ITO

Also with the Northern Illinois Bolltlecap Balloon Brigade, pictured below on the right, John Walsh, W9BLN

Michael Seedman AA6DY, John Walsh W9BLN

We started out in June of 2021 as the Bottlecap Balloon Battalion (Named after the movie “UP” the Ellie Badge, Bottlecap Merit Badge) there were 10 of us to start, aged 11 years old and up, kids, their parents and friends, some licensed in Amateur Radio some having an interest in science and engineering. We met monthly to research and report and had our first launch on September 25th 2021.  

Pico Ballooning is a part of Amateur Radio also known as Ham Radio or Hams. We’re licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allowing us to communicate to other Hams throughout the World. Pico meaning small, we send a small transmitter, with GPS tracking and antenna on a balloon filled with Hydrogen, rising to 47,000 feet, and travelling with the speed of the Jetstream. As we travel, our GPS is able to locate our current location, and other information is gathered depending on what chips we have on our transmitter while using other programs to gather other inflight information.

Other Hams can receive our signal and are reported on a computer using WSPR (Weak Signal Propagation Reporting) from anywhere through the internet. Our total package of transmitter, antenna, and balloon weigh less than an ounce, that is really small.

As the interest in Pico Ballooning has peaked with every launch, we have become Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade or NIBBB. The NIBBB is a part of a larger Pico Balloon Community, we learn and share from others in our community.

September 3rd 2022 Launch, our 24th Launch. We launched 2 balloons, AA6DY and KD9UQB and only heard from AA6DY. Our Pico Balloons can be tracked on our website tab, “Locate and Track“.

AA6DY Launched September 3rd 2022, completed the 1st Circumnavigation on September 24th 2022, the 2nd Cicumnavigation on October 24th 2022 and the 3rd Circumnavigation on November 15th 2022

This is a slideshow on preparing for Pico Balloon AA6DY Launch September 3rd 2022

September 10th 2022 How to Build the Solar Panel Package taught by Jim Janiak, KD9UQB

Please click Contact us for comments and click on the Blog tab to see our launches starting with the most recent.

Our 8th Launch KD9ORR 19 days of Flight Launched December 22nd 2021
8th Launch December 22, 2021 to January 11th 2022 From Winnetka, Illinois to the Federated States of Micronesia
8th Launch after turning back west circled the Marshall Islands. last heard from over the
Federated States of Micronesia after 19 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes of flight