December 23rd 2022, Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade Update

We are waiting to hear from our Pico Balloons K9YO and KD9UQB. K9YO was last heard on December 20th over Russia after missing for 5 days. We believe K9YO had traveled north away from sunlight. We’re looking forward to K9YO coming back into the sun and around for the 5th Circumnavigation.

Pico Balloon KD9UQB which was launched on November 24th from Antarctica has circumnavigated twice and is now believed to be circling the South Pole at 5 miles per hour. It may be another week before KD9UQB finds a faster moving wind and direction east.

The NIBBB met last Saturday for our occassional breakfast meeting. Jim, KD9UQB shared the two solar panel packages he built based on the design for the Antarctica launch. During this show and tell, Jim also shared another solar panel design that looks like a 6 panel pyramid or spaceship that would catch more sunlight for the winter months. Jim KD9UQB and John W9BLN will be testing these panels.

We also discussed whether we needed to seal the balloon valve with glue. All the balloons we use have an internal valve that closes once the balloon is at full volume. Full volume occurs when we pre-stretch the balloon or when it reaches its steady high altitude. We have also experienced a loss of Hydrogen from the time the balloon is filled and sealed till it’s launched, usually the next morning. The delay in launching was needed to allow for the glue to dry.

Michael Seedman, AA6DY and Stewart Spies, KB9LM, earlier tested the effectiveness of all glues, and different tapes at -67 degrees Fahrenheit using a Laboratory Oven at MHub in Chicago.

At our meeting, we went on to discuss if a condiment such as mayonnaise or mustard would be as effective as glue.

Listening intently on the science of sealing and the discussion were the Mulley Family, Doug, KD9TPM, Kelsi, KE9LSI, Gordie, KD9TVR, and Kyli. John Walsh, W9BLN, Jim Janiak, KD9UQB, Michael Seedman, AA6DY, Stewart Spies KB9LM, and Cary Willis, KD9ITO.

A future experiment we may be testing through actual flights, and answering the question, Which is better? glue, no glue, mustard/mayonnainse with and without Kapton tape and/or heat sealed.

As we work through these various questions, and test our new trackers we are getting ready to launch our next Pico Balloons early in the new year.

Below are pictured with their Dad Doug Mulley KD9TPM, two of our younger members, Gordie KD9TVR and Kelsi KE9LSI, brother and sister who received their General license together last summer in preparation for this upcoming launch.

We mentioned that one of our followers, Hisami 7L4IOU had wrote an article for CQ Magazine Japan that was published in the November 2022 issue. I asked some friends of mine, Mina and Kyogi Nakano to translate this article.

Below, from Hisami, 7L4IOU

On 9/3, high altitude balloon AA6DY was released in Illinois. By 9/14, it reached Japan and by 10/4 it has circled around Japan for the second time. This Balloon is managed by the group called “Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade” and this was their 24th launch to date.

The balloon is powered by a tiny and ultra light solar panels, GPS, One Chip Microcomputer Si5351A Clock Oscillation IC.

14.0956 MHz WSPR transmitter is attached to a party balloon and it continues to fly while the transmitter is exposed to the sunlight.

Since it is a good “On The Job” skill training for electronic circuit, programming, gas and pressure management, radiowave propagation and upper air charts

the group has gained wide popularity especially among young people.

By the way, the group blog and email conversations often mention the phrase “Yokohama Balloon.”

We were curious so when we asked, the group replied by saying the balloons manufactured by Yokohama Balloon Co. are highly regarded by the balloon enthusiasts.

We are very honored to learn about the Japanese toy makers’ meticulous effort being recognized. At the same time, we are also frustrated and very envious of the American balloon enthusiasts because in order for Japanese people to launch such a project, we must acquire licensing and legal system clearance! Sigh! 

We wish to thank Hisami and all our followers of the NIBBB.

We have since lost Pico Balloon AA6DY, last heard on November 24th 2022, after circling the world three times. Pico Balloon AA6DY had traveled for 82 days, spending most of the flight time around the Pacific Ocean. Reminiscing back in time, below is from our Blog dated October 3rd 2022.

October 3rd 2022, Day 32, 22:32 UTC, East of Yokohama, Japan, North Pacific Ocean

It’s Deja Vu all over again. AA6DY woke at 22:32 UTC, 5:32 pm CDT at Grid QM14MJ just east of Yokohama, Japan over the North Pacific Ocean. Our altitude is 14,420 meters, 47,298 feet.

QM14MJ, east of Yokohama Japan

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made all this possible. Wishing you and your families, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

We will continue to update our Locate and Track page throughout our flights.

73, Cary KD9ITO

One thought on “December 23rd 2022, Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade Update

  1. It was great to see everyone at breakfast last week and catch up on what everyone is doing. We have lots of activity going on with two balloons playing “hide and seek”, published articles in Japan, working on our ARRL article, plans for new solar panels and sealing balloons. We will be busy in the upcoming weeks.
    We have accomplished a lot. Advancing our knowledge about balloons, trackers and pico technology. As well as expanding our contacts through-out the world. Cary has done an awesome job reaching out to long distance trackers of our balloons.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s