September 16th day 14, North Pacific Ocean

AA6DY woke at Grid RM64 at 20:12 UTC 3:12pm CDT. We’re still waiting for the 2nd packet. With just the 1st packet we have the 4 Grid Maidenhead and the power of 47dBm which gives us at least 14,100 meters over 46,000 feet. As we’re heading east, our wakeup will be coming earlier tomorrow.

I’d like to put a shout out to the members in attendance at the W9DXCC Convention in Naperville, Illinois who were in attendance for our Pico Balloon presentation by Michael Seedman, AA6DY whose balloon we’re flying.

We’re receiving two Amateur Radio Stations that are giving us our 4 Grid Maidenhead, 1st AI6VN/G Robert from Half Moon Bay California who also has a home in Maui is reaching us 3,228 km or 2,074 miles from our balloon and VK4CT a station from Australia 7,169 Km or 4,455 miles from our balloon at 10mW.

We do have a change on our NOAA Hysplit Model at 14,100 meters, over a 48 hour period showing us heading east and maintaining altitude, I’ll continue to monitor this when we get our 2nd packet.

Our Links to Locate and Track Tab have been updated with today’s information.

As we celebrated Michael’s Birthday last week on day 7, I’m happy to be celebrating my Birthday today on day 14.

73, Cary KD9ITO

While we’re flying, we’re still working

We’re still meeting, and building while AA6DY is flying.

Some of our members were able to gather on Saturday September 10th at the home of the Berg’s, who hosted our build session.

One of the most difficult parts of our Pico Balloon Project is building the solar panel package. The Polycystalline solar panels are so fragile, that a sudden touch can break a panel. Jim Janiak, KD9UQB designed a template to hold a single solar panel in place for ease of soldering. Once one side is soldered, it’s then glued to the plate, then soldered and repeated.

Each solar panel is glued to the styrofoam plate and soldered in series. The wires from negative to positive are stripped before soldering. After working on several renditions of this package, Jim KD9UQB had designed our current board. Jim was our Elmer and Guide who patiently worked with each of us.

Joining us for this session were, The Berg’s; Noah KD9RDT, Bob KD9RDU, and Wendy KD9RDV, Ken Daniel K9YO, Cary Willis KD9ITO, Mikaela Streicher KD9VIW, The Mulley’s; Doug KD9TPM, Kelsi KE9LSI, and Gordie KD9TVR. We also had the support of Winston close at hand.

Jim started out with an introduction to the tools, parts and a step by step instruction. We then broke into groups and started cutting out the styrofoam template. We had four soldering stations spread around five tables.

We ended with 3 complete solar panel packages weiging around 4.7 grams each, tested and ready to fly. This session added to the two other solar panel packages that Jim had completed

We’re looking forward to flying Pico Balloons for our three younger Generals, Kelsi Mulley KE9LSI, Gordie Mulley KD9TVR and Mikaela Streicher KD9VIW.

We’ll be updating our Technical page which will provide instructions on how to build and launch Pico Balloons, hosted by Ken Daniel K9YO. You’ll also be able to read and follow Ken’s future Pico Balloon launches here at the NIBBB.

Please enjoy this slideshow from yesterday’s session

September 1st 2022, Artemis and NIBBB, what we have in common

As we reported in our last post, we were ready to launch two balloons last Saturday, August 27th. After completing the Board and getting ready for launch, Michael started testing the tracker and discovered it wasn’t working properly. The night before, we discovered our tracker was only transmitting one packet. We need both packets sent two minutes apart to receive the 6 Grid Maidenhead location, altitude and other data. Not having all the data we needed for a successful launch, we decided to scrub the launch until we could find the trouble.

On our last post we had shown our 3rd party manufactured tracker minus a few chips. Because of the chip shortage, it’s necessary for us to add some our own sourced chips. After spending time looking at the software as a possible issue, we suspected the problem to be a hardware issue. One of the substituted chips was the MS5351 Clock Generator. On our previous trackers, we were using the Skyworks Si5351, however, due to supply chain issues, we ordered the MS5351, thinking it was a plug-in replacement for the Skyworks chip. We found that the MS5351’s didn’t always work. After finding a board that failed consistently, we removed the MS5351 and replaced it with an original Skyworks chip, we retested, and we’re now back in business. We now have two working trackers for our next launch. We also ordered the Skyworks Si5351A-B-GT chips from Digikey to make sure our future trackers will work properly.

We also discovered during this down period, that the two Yokohama balloons that were prepared for last Saturday, were found to be leaking a small amount of gas – about 1g of lift per day. We were planning on using these pre-stretched and filled with the proper free lift gas for this Saturday’s launch. I suppose it was pure luck to discover the balloons had a small leak which would have lead to a failed launch, if we hadn’t scrubbed the launch.

After we discovered these failed balloons, Michael AA6DY and Stewart KB9LM of our Technical team had conference calls with Ken Daniel K9YO and with Tom Medlin W5KUB on our different balloons. Ken has been successful flying the SAG balloons and Tom, the Yokohama’s. While Stewart was able to get the process of pre-stretching and sealing from Ken, Tom shared that the failure rate of a Yokohama balloon was about 70%. While we’re not sure if that’s a failure from launch or cutting short the journey, Tom’s flight 112 has just circumnavigated the world and is currently flying on day 82 with a Yokohama balloon over Canada heading to the north pole.

We have several groups working together to prepare for a launch. After the Balloons, Tracker, Solar Panels and Antenna package are prepared, the last step before launch is to look at the weather and the Jetstream. It is now up to our Meteorological committee to determine whether we are good to go, which we now have.

Our Meteorological committee of Kelsi Mulley KE9LSI (our new General) and her Dad Doug Mulley KD9TPM are providing daily weather reports leading up to the launch. NOAA (National Oceanic and Athmospheric Administration) provides all our models from balloon location for all weather and trajectory. NOAA gives us updates on Hurricanes and Cyclones which may impact our launch as well as a Hysplit trajectory, which shows our projection of travel from a given altitude and location. We start with our launch location and projected altitude and create a model showing the projected path over a 48 or 84 hour period. The NOAA Hysplit Trajectory model takes into account the weather, pressure, and Jetstream, and adjusts the altitude and direction. During the flight this committee will update the Hysplit models.

We are now planning our next launch on Saturday September 3rd 2022 at Willow Hill Golf Course, 1350 Willow Rd. in Northbrook, IL. We will be launching two balloons, KD9UQB for Jim Janiak, and AA6DY for Michael Seedman, and now with the Go Ahead from our committee, we will be meeting at 8:30 am Saturday September 3rd.

So, what do we have in common with Artemis? We research, prepare and test, up to and throughout our launch.

August 14th, 2022, KD9TPM, MIA

KD9TPM was launched on July 30th from Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook, Illinois and came alive on July 31st over Canada. We last heard from our balloon on August 10th over the North Pacific Ocean. KD9TPM had flown 10 days and 16 hours and we now declare it Missing In Action.

KD9TPM travel map from July 30th 2022 to August 10th 2022 courtesy of WSPR.Rocks

We are in our planning stages for our next launch and will keep an eye out for KD9TPM

Our Technical Team is working on building our Solar Panel and Antenna packages and look forward to many future launches.

73, Cary KD9ITO

August 5th 2022 16:24 UTC Grid KN47si, Moldova, 7th Day

KD9TPM is now asleep at Grid KN47si near the city of Carmonova, Moldolva sharing the border with Ukraine. Our current altitude is 10,180 meters around 33,400 feet. We are now 6 days, 2 hours and 22 minutes of flight. Below is the image of where we went to sleep.

The Jetstream is starting to move Southeast. I’ve updated our Links to Locate and Track to show the Ventusky Jestream at our current location and altitude. Using the WSPR.Rocks site, last 24 hours and clicking on map is a great tool for finding our next location. Please read the bottom of the page on our Links to Locate and Track.

Our balloon should be waking up in about 10 hours, so if you’re competing in Guess the Grid Square, please get them in no later than 9pm this evening.

73, Cary KD9ITO

August 5th 2022, KD9TPM wakeup over Southern Belarus KO42na 04:12 UTC

We had a good travel overnight going from the Northern border of Belarus and Russia, and travelling to the southern part of Belarus waking up near Mazyr, Belarus at Grid KO42na. We’re holding steady at 33,500 feet in altitude.

And first to our contenstants to Guess the Grid Square. We had 3, Jim, KD9UQB with Grid KO44gi, Doug, KD9TPM with Grid KO43lm and Tami, KD9IXB with Grid KD43qw. All three contestants were less than 100 Km from each other. The closest to KO42na was Doug, KD9TPM at 165 Km away.

Congratualtions to Doug as our 2nd winner for the KD9TPM contest. Wendy Berg KD9RDV was the winner yesterday.

As I mentioned we had a good flight overnight now flying over Ukraine.

Below is an image of yesterday’s flight leaving Estonia, traveling over Russia, going to sleep at the Belarus-Russia border as see on the top of the page. We woke up in southern Belarus over Mazyr Belarus and are now over Ukraine.

And now on August 5th at 13:52 UTC we are approaching Moldova at KN48og. We are now 6 days and 32 minutes into our flight

With the Jetstream starting to turn south and east, we should be catching a faster Jetstream traveling east. I’ve update our Jetstream link on Ventusky for today.

For those intersesting in Guessing the Grid Square on Awakening, please go to Links to Locate and Track and follow the instructions on the bottom of the page. Please send me your Grid Square guess by 9:00pm CDT this evening August 5th.

From Ireland to Maldova

73, Cary, KD9ITO

August 3rd 2022, Asleep at Grid KO28ht, Estonia

KD9TPM is now flying at 10,240 meters, just over 33,500 feet for 4 days and 3 hours. We’ve been awake and transmitting for about 13 hours today. We are now just south of Rapla, Estonia at Grid KO28ht asleep at 16:42 UTC, 11:42am CDT traveling due East.

Pico Balloon KD9TPM is receiving 2 packets of data, 2 minutes apart on the 2’s and 4’s of a 10 minute timeslot. It’s the 2nd packet on the 4’s that gets us among other data, our altitude in meters and 6 Grid Maidenhead (MH) Gridsquare. This 6 Grid MH will give us a location in a 3 mile by 5 mile rectangle grid or area of 15 square miles.

To receive our location, we rely on our onboard GPS chip and the Amateur Radio stations around the World that receive our signal. Without a receive signal, we won’t know our location. In some parts of the World we may not receive a signal, which could delay a report for several days.

Keeping that in mind, we’re expecting to wakeup this evening around 10pm CDT, so if your participating in “Guess the Gridsquare”, please get them to me by 6pm CDT August 3rd. For information on finding our location, please go to the tab on our website “Links to Locate and Track”

Launched from Northbrook, Illinois on July 30th, Pico Balloon KD9TPM woke up on August 3rd over Sweden and now alseep over Estonia, 4 days and 3 hours of flight.

Till this evening, 73 Cary

August 2nd, 2022 KD9TPM Grid io62bv, 18:02 UTC Ireland

We are now at 3 days and 4 hours into our flight and have made it over Rathnavogue, Ireland. Still flying around 33,000 feet and moving in a faster Jetstream. Our wakeup may be delayed. There are 3 countries that don’t allow us to transmit while flying over their country, Can you name them? I’ll report on that tomorrow. Wakeup for our balloon may be around midnight our time. Where will we be? Who Knows… Who doesn’t like Schnitzel? I Love it!

Actually, the Jetstream tomorrow is getting a little trickier. I changed the Ventusky link on our “Links to Locate and Track” tab for tomorrow’s Jetstream at 1:00 am CDT

I’ll just wait till tomorrow morning to report, 73, Cary

Pico Balloon KD9TPM is now asleep over Rathnavogue, Ireland. Current Flight 3 days, 4 hours and 32 minutes. Flying at 10,050 meters around 33,000 feet.
KD9TPM asleep over Rathnavogue, Ireland 18:02 UTC, 1:02 pm CDT at 33,000 feet

June 26th end of day, W9BLN

We’re now 7 days and 10 hours into our flight for W9BLN. This morning we woke up near Ada, Oklahoma and now at 00:48 UTC June 27th which is 7:48 pm CDT on June 26th, W9BLN is now alseep for night at Grid EM25FS near Muskogee, Oklahoma. We’re leaving Oklahoma soon and heading towards Branson Missouri at close to 40 mph. The Jetstream will be faster the further north we go, though looking at Ventusky we may be heading directly east overnight.

I’ve updated the Ventusky Jetream for tomorrow June 27th at 7:00 am CDT 12:00 UTC which shows the direction we’ll be heading. Please go to Links to Locate and Track at the top right of our website.

Till tomorrow,

73, Cary