Happy New Year to all and congratulations to the NIBBB Team for another feat, our 3rd Pico Balloon to Cirumnavigate the world at least three times.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB was launched on November 24th 2022, from Neumayer Station III, Antarctica as part of a larger group effort. For this launch we were testing a new tracker that would provide consistent reporting and a new solar panel package that would power up near sunsrise and stay awake at the lower sun’s elevation.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB has made it around the world three times in 39 days on January 2nd 2023.
Using the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit Trajectory model, we are predicting that Pico Balloon KD9UQB will be near Grid MC50AA around January 6th 2023 at 06:00 UTC
Our two solar panel systems we have been using are a mulitple polycrystilline package which is horizontal, fragile, thin and light and the film solar panel which is a vertical cylinder, sturdy and heavier.
We are also testing a pyramid shaped polycystalline solar panel package for a future launch.
The horizontal polycrystilline panel weighs around 4.2 grams, the film cylinder panel weighs about 18 grams.
The Polycrystilline package similar to the one shown by Gordie, KD9TVR was used for Pico Balloon AA6DY reaching an altitude of over 47,000 feet, and circumnavigating three times around the world in 82 days.
The Film Solar Panel was made for the Antarctica flight and testing winter launches for the lower sun’s elevation reaching an altitude of around 34,000 feet.
Our Locate and Track page has been updated for Pico Balloon KD9UQB with the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model. Ventusky for wind speed and direction, APRS tracking and Sondehub for tracking all Pico Balloons in flight around the world.
Our next test for KD9UQB is how long the Film solar panels last with the UV coating. While this is an ongoing test, we are working on our next launches for January 2023 from Northern Illinois, stay tuned.
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.
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.
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.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB, launched on November 24th 2022 from Neumayer Station III, Antarctica, completed the 2nd Circumnavigation on December 14th after 20 days and 4 hours of flight. KD9UQB is flying at an altitude of 10,720 meters, 35,162 feet.
Best Guess, KD9UQB December 17th 2022
Pico Balloon K9YO last reported on December 6th, making a 4th circumnavigation over Quebec Canada. We believed that K9YO stayed north of the Day/Night Change Line, traveling around the North Pole, we were waiting for K9YO to travel south. K9YO reported on December 14th at 02:10 UTC at Grid PN78XK near Khabarovsk, Russia at an altitude of 11,720 meters, 38,422 feet.
We believe K9YO will travel northwest on December 17th 2022
Our Locate and Track page has been updated for KD9UQB for 84 hour NOAA Hysplit, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, APRS and Sondehub.
Pico Balloon K9YO had circumnavigated the world a 4th time on December 6th 2022. The NOAA Hysplit model showed K9YO traveling northwest, north of Alaska around December 10th. Another NOAA model was taken and showed K9YO traveling east around the North Pole. If that direction and location is correct, we won’t be hearing from Pico Balloon K9YO until it heads back south. Until then, we’re calling K9YO, Missing in Action.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB which was launched from Neumayer Station III, Antarctica had been traveling east, made a detour southwest to the South Pole and northwest towards the Southern Ocean.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB is south of the Day/Night Change Line and still transmitting. Below is from December 11th 2022 Grid HB62SS at 21:32 UTC flying for 17 days and 14 hours at an altitude of 10,600 meters, 34,768 feet.
We’re expecting Pico Balloon KD9UQB will make a 2nd Circumnavigation around December 13th.
Best Guess for KD9UQB on December 15th, 06:00 UTC
Our Locate and Track page has been updated for the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit Model, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, APRS and Sonehub for Pico Balloon KD9UQB and all Pico Balloons in flight around the world.
We will report when we hear from Pico Balloon K9YO or AA6DY. The WSPR Spot Database always reports current reports for all our balloons.
We would like to recognize, Hisami Dejima, 7L4IOU an NIBBB Follower, who wrote an article for CQ Ham Radio Magazine, Japan, November 2022 Edition. This article is on the flight of AA6DY flying over Japan, transmitting on WSPR mode, the NIBBB project and our success with the 32″ Sphere balloon from Yokohama Balloon, Yokohama, Japan.
Below is a 2 page slide show of the cover page and article from CQ Ham Radio Magazine with QR codes linking to the NIBBB website and Yokohama Balloons.
Our Technical Page has information on tracking our balloons, calculating the altitude, where to get the balloons, and a slide show on the launch of Pico Balloon AA6DY on September 3rd 2022.
AA6DY is still MIA, but showing up on our APRS link in case it decides to come back. Pico Balloon K9YO reported today as expected near our prediction, at 19:30 UTC and just 90 minutes late. Pico Balloon KD9UQB has been very busy today first waking at 01:52 UTC, going to sleep at 16:52 UTC and waking at 21:52 UTC all on December 5th. Now that KD9UQB is south of the Day/Night Change Line, sleepy time is over.
Pico Balloon K9YO woke at 19:30 UTC at Grid DO00xj northeast of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, flying at an altitude of 12,420 meters, 40,738 feet.
Based on the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model, K9YO will circumnavigate the world a 4th time tomorrow, December 6th around 15:00 UTC. The NOAA model also shows that K9YO will travel thru Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota before heading northeast towards Ontario, Cananda for the 4th Circumnavigation.
Below is the 84 hours NOAA Hysplit model for Pico Balloon K9YO which shows the Jetstream traveling north of the Day/Night Change Line into darkness. I’ll provide another 84 hour model after tomorrow.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB has been very active today. Waking at 01:52 UTC at Grid KD96FB, going to sleep at 16:54 UTC at Grid LC97NV and waking back up at 21:54 UTC at Grid MC24CV. Pictured below is Pico Balloon KD9UQB at Grid MC24SE at 23:32 UTC and still flying. There appears to be a new altitude record for KD9UQB now reaching 10,900 meters, 35,752 feet.
The easiest way to keep track of KD9UQB is by Sondehub at this link W5KUB and click W5KUB-115 or scroll out to see all the W5KUB balloons. To track all the Pico Balloons around the world please go to our Locate and Track page and click SondeHub Balloon Tracker at the top of our page.
Below is a picture from the APRS link on our Locate and Track page showing our three balloons with the newest locations of K9YO and KD9UQB with AA6DY at the last known location November 24th
Our Locate and Track page is now updated for our active balloons with the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, APRS and Sondehub for tracking all Pico Balloons flying around the world. You can also find the current Grid for our balloons by clicking on WSPR Spot Database for each balloon on our Locate and Track page.
The other nice part of the WSPR Spot Database link is it shows how far the reporting station is from our balloon at the time of the report. On December 5th at 01:52 UTC, Station KFS in Northern California reported 17,814 Km or 11,069 miles from our balloon, that’s pretty amazing.
We believe Pico Balloon K9YO is traveling north of the Day/Night Change Line and can only predict the current location.
We believe that Pico Balloon K9YO is north of Alaska over the Beaufort Sea at around 18:00 UTC
We’re predicting that Pico Balloon K9YO will be waking on December 5th around 18:00 UTC just over Canada, near the State of Washington.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB also flying as W5KUB-115, was launched on November 24th 2022, from Neumayer Station III Antactica. KD9UQB made the First Circumnavigation on December 4th around 05:00 UTC at Grid IC78NM over the Southern Ocean. Pico Balloon KD9UQB traveled the world in 9 days and 23 hours, flying at an altitude of 10,780 meters, 35,358 feet.
Below is the map of the first circumnavigation of Pico Balloon KD9UQB, also flying as W5KUB-115.
Below is the 84 hours NOAA Hysplit model from December 4th thru December 8th 2022.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB just passed the Day/Night Change line and had gone to sleep around 18:00 UTC. As our balloon starts traveling closer to the Antarctica coast, we expect longer flights and daylight hours.
The NIBBB now has 3 balloons that have circumnavigated the world.
Any updates to our Pico Balloons will first appear on our Locate and Track page. The 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, APRS and Sondehub has been updated for Pico Balloon KD9UQB. We hope to hear from Pico Balloon K9YO tomorrow, and are still checking for signs from Pico Balloon AA6DY, last heard on November 24th.
Pico Balloon AA6DY is still MIA, Pico Balloon K9YO has moved north of the Day/Night Change Line and not able to report.
The general update of our balloons is that AA6DY last reported on November 24th, just west of West Africa. We believe that AA6DY is over Central Africa near the Equator and not able to report. K9YO last reported yesterday December 2nd and is expected to start transmitting again around December 5th over Canada. Around the time K9YO reports we should be nearing the 4th circumnavigation. Pico Balloon KD9UQB has left Chile, South America, headed back towards Antarctica, and the 1st circumnavigation sometime tomorrow.
Below is from Sondehub showing the projected “Float” for the direction of Pico Balloon K9YO. The different colors represent altitudes from 11,000 meters to 13,000 meters close to our actual altitude. The Float model is taken from the NOAA Model, providing an estimate beyond 84 hours.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB started transmitting on December 3rd at 07:32 UTC at Grid GD02TP and went to sleep on December 3rd at 22:12 UTC at Grid HC96hi traveling at an altitude of 10,720 meters, 35,162 feet.
Because of the cylinder solar panel that Jim KD9UQB designed, the tracker continued to transmit at the Day/Night Change Line or sun’s elevation at 2.1 Degrees. The highest sun’s elevation reached today while transmitting was 51.4 degrees. Pico Balloon KD9UQB received transmissions for 16 hours today. We expect as we travel further south, and travel around Antarctica, the transmissions will continue 24 hours a day.
Below is near the last report at the Day/Night Change Line. The RED map point at the bottom is Neumayer Station III where KD9UQB was launched on November 24th 2022.
Below is the NOAA Hysplit Model showing the projected path of KD9UQB from December 4th thru December 7th.
Our Locate and Track page has been updated for Pico Balloon KD9UQB for 84 hour NOAA Hysplit Model, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, Sondehub for tracking all Pico Balloons and APRS for tracking all our balloons.
Pico Balloon AA6DY is still Missing in Action, future posts will be about K9YO and KD9UQB until we hear from our missing balloon.
I have to start with a correction. Pico Balloon K9YO is preparing to make the 4th Circumnavigation. I heard from Ken Daniel, K9YO this morning who was predicting Pico Balloon K9YO would be entering what he referred to as “a day of the midnight sun” and the balloon may not be heard for a day or two. I actually have more information on that since Pico Balloon K9YO has reported.
Pico Balloon K9YO reported at 23:10 UTC at Grid QN83OT, east of Nemuro, Japan over the North Pacific Ocean. K9YO reported at an altitude of 12,240 meters, 40,147 feet.
Below is the general area where K9YO reported. The yellow line is called the Day/Night Change Line.
Below is the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model. The good news is we’re expecting our 4th circumnavigation around December 6th, the not so good news, it looks like we’ll be flying in the dark and not reporting till around December 5th. Pico Balloon K9YO is still reporting as I’m writing this post.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB is also still reporting near Punta Arenas, Chile, South America flying at an altitdue of 10,420 meters, 34,178 feet
Below is from Sondehub, W5KUB-115 clicking on “Plots” shows the flight of KD9UQB from the launch on November 24th thru December 2nd 2022 To see the complete flight you would need to change the reporting to 2 weeks.
We’re expecting Pico Balloon KD9UQB to continue around Antarctica
Our Locate and Track page is updated for Pico Balloons K9YO and KD9UQB, 84 hours NOAA Hysplit model, Ventusky for wind speed and direction, Sondehub for tracking all Pico Balloons around the world and APRS. The easiest way to track KD9UQB is at Pico Balloons W5KUB Pico Balloon KD9UQB is flying as W5KUB-115. Our Locate and Track page also shows the circumnavigations of all our balloons.
To become a follower of the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade to receive emails of posts when published and comment on our posts please click on the WordPress link on our website https://nibbb.org/ you will be instructed to create a username and password. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions by clicking here Contact Us or through QRZ.
We’re still calling AA6DY MIA, (Missing in Action) and hoping for a report
Pico Balloon K9YO reported at 04:40 UTC at Grid MN83RM near Almatay, Kazakhstan flying at an altitude of 12,540 meters 41,131 feet.
I suppose this happens when I’m late writing a post, just need to update the data.
Below was the start of my report starting a couple of hours ago.
Pico Balloon K9YO will be moving east over China and possibly North Korea on the way over the Atlantic Ocean towards Canada. If we fly over North Korea during daylight hours, our transmitter will not transmit data. We’re able to see the path of our balloons using the NOAA Hysplit model for 84 hours. This information along with Ventusky for seeing the windspeed at altitude.
Now to the new report.
Pico Balloon K9YO is reporting again on December 2nd at 03:30 UTC at Grid OM79XM, near Beijing, China, Flying at an altitude of 12,420 meters, 40,738 feet
It looks like the Pico transmitter will be turning off over North Korea. The transmitter will start sending data once the balloon passes North Korea, and we’re still flying in daylight hours.
Pico Balloon K9YO is on a fast track heading east. Our Prediction based on the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model, is that K9YO will be over Canada near Montana around December 5th 2022, and nearing the 4th circumnavigation.
Our Locate and Track page is partially updated. Ventusky is from December 1st and the APRS is not yet updating for K9YO. The NOAA Hysplit model is current. Clicking on Ventusky and hovering your mouse over that area will show the widspeed. On the lower left hand corner of the page you can change the date, and at the bottom scroll through the time. By clicking on our link will show the windspeed at the altitude the balloon is currently flying which can be seen on the left hand side. By changing the date and time and zooming out will show the balloons direction for up to two weeks in advance. This is just a model and can change. We can accurately predict the direction using NOAA up to 84 hours ahead.
Pico Balloon KD9UQB launched on November 24th from Antarctica was transmitting continously from November 28th till December 2nd 02:42 UTC when the balloon moved north into the sunset towards Argentina.
Based on the 84 hour NOAA Hysplit model, it looks like Pico Balloon KD9UQB will be skirting the south tip of Argentina and then continuing to circle the Antarctica. Locate and Track
We’ll update APRS soon. You can follow all our balloons on this link APRS for AA6DY, K9YO and KD9UQB the Pico Balloon KD9UQB data changes so quickly, the best way to track is on Sondehub by clicking here W5KUB Pico Balloons Pico Balloon KD9UQB is flying as W5KUB-115.
Patience is a virtue, and the NIBBB has good news to report.
First, Pico Balloon KD9UQB also flying as W5KUB-115 is still happy flying over Antarctica. The easiest way to track KD9UQB and all the current W5KUB Pico Balloons is at this link W5KUB Pico Balloons
Below is the track from Sondehub for Pico Balloon KD9UQB launched on November 24th thru November 30th 2022. We were predicitng that KD9UQB will be circumnavigating around December 3rd, updates on our Locate and Track page. KD9UQB is reporting flying at an altitdue of 10,600 meters, 34,768 feet.
Jim Janiak, KD9UQB had built a solar panel especially for this flight. We have been using another solar panel also designed by Jim, a horizontal package with 7 polycystalline solar panels, where we receive signals starting about an hour after sunrise, or when the sun is around 26 degrees.
This new panel using 3 plastic film panels has been receiving a signal as low as 1.8 degrees and as high as 57.7 degrees. This wide range has allowed KD9UQB to receive signals over a longer period of time. Actually, the last continuous reporting was from November 28th thru December 1st at 00:54 UTC.
We heard today from Tom Medlin, W5KUB that the area around Somalia, East Africa, where Pico Balloon AA6DY was predicted to be flying has been experiencing storms with cloud tops as high as 46,000 feet. That’s right around the altitude of our balloon. This coupled with not having Amateur Radio Stations that can hear our signal. We may be just above the clouds or in the storm, or no where near the storms, we’re in a wait and see mode.
We’re still calling Pico Balloon AA6DY MIA (Missing in Action)
Pico Balloon K9YO had come out from hiding and reported on November 30th 2022, southeast of our prediction. K9YO reported at 06:30 UTC at Grid LN58GU over Kazakhstan flying at an altitude of 12,540 meters, 41,131 feet.
We’re predicting that Pico Balloon K9YO will be near Alaska around December 3rd 2022. Nearing a 4th circumnavigation.
Below is the image from APRS showing K9YO over Kazakhstan, AA6DY at the last report and KD9UQB over Antarctica near a circumnavigation between South America and Africa. This link is active on our Locate and Track page as well as NOAA Hysplit and Ventusky for wind speed and direction.
Thanking everyone for your patience and helping us track our balloons.