February 14th, 2023, K9YO, Missing in Action, KD9UQB, 7th Circumnavigation.

Pico Balloon K9YO last reported on February 11th at 00:48 zulu near Hagemeister Island after 123 days and 18 hours of flight.

Hagemeister Island is an uninhabited island in the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the north shore of Bristol Bay at the entrance to Togiak Bay. The island is 16 miles long, has a land area of 115.9 square miles, and its highest point is 604 feet. It has no permanent population at the 2000 census. Wikipedia

The 84 hour NOAA Hysplit Trajectory showed Pico Balloon K9YO making the 7th circumnavigation on February 13th around 18:00 zulu, and then traveling north of the Day/Night Change Line.

Below is a screen shot from Ventusky from February 11th showing the possible wind speed and direction. The darker colors near Hagemeister are 63 mph, the green color further north is 24 mph.

Ventusky is interactive, you can change the date at the lower left hand corner and slide the time at the bottom. This is a nice site to play with, search a location, and change the parameters on the left. Clicking on any location on the map will open a screen with information for that location.

The links for Ventusky and NOAA are on our Locate and Track page for each balloon.

Two of the several programs we follow to track our balloons are NOAA and lu7aa.org NOAA showed us going in a general eastward direction, lu7aa showed us going northeast. Pico Balloon K9YO on lu7aa

lu7aa shows a projected location using Ventusky. Projection seen below for February 15th 2023, 03:58 zulu, Grid DQ14er, 4 days and 3 hours from our last official report.

For now we are calling Pico Balloon K9YO Missing in Action.

Pico Balloon KD9UQB was launched from Neumayer Station III in Antarctica on November 24th 2022, completing the 7th Circumnavigation, on February 14th 2023 at 18:12 zulu at Grid ID52vd.

Pico Balloon KD9UQB last reported flying at an altitude of 11,560 meters, 37,928 feet, completing the 7th time around the world in 82 days and 12 hours of flight.

The 84 hour NOAA Hysplit Model shows Pico Balloon KD9UQB heading north also by Ventusky for February 14th 18:00 zulu

We update the NOAA Hysplit Model and Ventusky every day our balloons report. The WSPR Spot Database is updated automatically everytime our balloons receive a report.

Though you may not be seeing regular posts here, we update our Locate and Track page daily when our balloons are reporting. The WSPR Spot Database is updated automatically everytime our balloons receive a report. Pico Balloon K9YO and Pico Balloon KD9UQB have their own WSPR Spot Database link on our site and the easiest way to see when our balloons report. The WSPR Spot Database shows the reporting station and the distance to our balloon in Km and miles.

Thank you for following the NIBBB. 73, Cary KD9ITO

December 6th 2022, K9YO, 4th Circumnavigation and KD9UQB

Pico Balloon K9YO has circumnavigated the world a 4th time. Pico Balloon K9YO reported at 16:20 UTC at Grid FO01 near Waskaganish, Quebec, Canada flying at an altitude of 12,240 meters, 40,147 feet. Pico Balloon K9YO was launched on October 10th 2022 from Libertyville, Illinois a northern suburb of Chicago, making the 4th circumnavigation in 57 days.

Pico Balloon K9YO 4th Circumnavigation December 6th 2022, 16:20 UTC Waskaganish, Quebec, Canada

Pico Balloon K9YO woke to report the 4th circumnavigation and went back to sleep. K9YO will be traveling northwest over the Arctic Ocean around December 10th.

K9YO Best Guess December 10th 2022

Looking at Ventusky for the Jetstream from December 10th forward, it’s hard to predict where or when Pico Balloon K9YO will next report. Here’s the link for Ventusky December 10th K9YO at our expected location as per NOAA.

Pico Balloon KD9UQB will be traveling around Antarctica, for at least the next 84 hours as per NOAA, looking closer at the 2nd circumnavigation.

Below as of 22:22 UTC, Grid OC23bx, flying at an altitude of 10,540 meters, 34,571 feet.

Our Locate and Track page has been updated for Pico Balloons K9YO and KD9UQB. The WSPR Spot Databases automatically update for all our balloons on our Locate and Track page. Pico Balloon KD9UQB is also flying as W5KUB-115 and can be tracked at this link Sondehub W5KUB

Congratulations to the NIBBB Team for another circumnavigation. The next update will be around December 10th when KD9UQB will be looking for the 2nd circumnavigation.

73, Cary KD9ITO

December 5th 2022, K9YO & KD9UQB

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.

K9YO at Grid DO00xj, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada altitude 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.

Best Guess for K9YO around December 6th 2022 15:00 UTC

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.

KD9UQB at Grid MC24CE altitude 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

December 5th 2022 K9YO over Canada, AA6DY MIA over the Equator and KD9UQB over Antarctica

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.

73, Cary KD9ITO

December 4th 2022, K9YO and KD9UQB

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.

73, Cary KD9ITO

December 2nd 2022, AA6DY, K9YO and KD9UQB

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.

K9YO at Grid QN83OT, altitude 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

KD9UQB near Grid FD26VC , altitude 34,178 feet
KD9UQB near Puntas Arenas, Chile

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.

73, Cary KD9ITO

December 1st 2022, AA6DY, K9YO & KD9UQB

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.

K9YO at Grid MN83RM at 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

K9YO Grid OM79XM altitude 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.

Best Gues of K9YO around December 5th 2022

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.

KD9UQB at Grid DD74XE

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.

73, Cary KD9ITO

November 30th 2022, AA6DY, K9YO and KD9UQB

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.

KD9UQB Solar Panel Package

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.

K9YO at Grid LN58GU, 41,131 feet

We’re predicting that Pico Balloon K9YO will be near Alaska around December 3rd 2022. Nearing a 4th circumnavigation.

Best Guess, K9YO around December 3rd 2022

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.

73, Cary KD9ITO

November 29th 2022, AA6DY, K9YO and KD9UQB

Pico Balloon AA6DY and Pico Balloon K9YO are still Missing in Action. We still believe both balloons are flying but are in areas not received by Amateur Radio Stations.

Pico Balloon KD9UQB is alive and well flying over the Antarctica. We expect KD9UQB to circumnavigate in a few days. It’s a shorter trip around the world at the Antarctica, it also helps having a reporting station down there.

Our Locate and Track page has been updated for Pico Balloon KD9UQB, please scroll to the bottom of that page. There is a new link for Sondehub W5KUB which shows the 4 balloons flying. W5KUB-112 is now flying 171 days, W5KUB-113 is flying 54 days. W5KUB-114 and W5KUB-115 are the balloons launched from Antarctica. To follow these balloons on Sondehub please click here W5KUB To Follow the W5KUB launches on Tom Medlin’s website, please click here https://ham-tv.com/balloon/

From the Sondehub link you can track the projected “Float”, where the balloon is expected to go based on the NOAA Hysplit model as well as “Plots” for specific data about the balloon.

Below is from W5KUB-115 (KD9UQB) “Plots” which shows the path (Red Dashes) of Pico Balloon KD9UQB from the launch on November 24th through November 30th 02:00 UTC

On our Locate and Track Page has a NOAA Hysplit Model which shows KD9UQB circumnavigation in a few days. Below is our Best Guess for December 3rd 2022.

Best Guess December 3rd 2022

While we’re waiting for our other balloons to report, you may see a delay in reporting here. We encourage you to visit the links on this post for updates on Pico Balloon KD9UQB and also the APRS link for all our balloons at this link APRS for AA6DY, K9YO and W5KUB-115 (KD9UQB) which is also on our Locate and Track page

Any visitor to our website can become an NIBBB follower by scrolling on this page and clicking the WordPress link. You will be instructed to create a username and password. Once you’re a follower, you will receive emails of posts when published and allow you to comment on posts.

73, Cary KD9ITO

September 23rd, 21st Day, Near Willits, California and another milestone.

AA6DY woke at Grid CM89IL at 16:02 UTC, 11:02 am CDT. Our altitude is 13,900 meters or about 45,600 feet. A little about Willits, is about 20 miles north, northwest of Ukiah at an elevation of 1391 feet.

Though I don’t expect to be here long, as we’re traveling in a Jetstream of about 60 mph. For those sticking around, there will be a North Coast Comedy’s Fall Comedy Series at the Coyote Valley Casino at 7:30 p.m. local time.

While we’re enjoying the flight of AA6DY, having broken our record of our longest flight in duration, altitude and distance and still flying, we’d like to wish Roberta Seedman a Happy Birthday.

Grid CM89IL 16:02 UTC

From the NOAA Hysplit 48 hour Trajectory below shows us moving quickly across the United States. The model shows a sudden drop in altitude and rising higher then when we started.

All we can say is a balloon is gonna do what a balloon is gonna do, and we’re happy to enjoy the ride.

NOAA Hysplit general direction east

Our Links to Locate and Track tab has been updated for Ventusky Jestream, NOAA Hysplit, Sondehub World Wide Balloon Tracking and APRS tracking for AA6DY.

For this 24th Flight and for all our future launches, we’d like to thank all those that have made us what we are today, as we prepare to circumnavigate our first Pico Balloon. What better place to be as we fly our Co-Founder’s balloon, Michael Seedman, AA6DY.

We offer special thanks to our friends and mentors, especially, Tom Medlin, W5KUB and Ken Daniel K9YO and the group we follow Pico Balloon.io and a very special thanks to Kari and Kent Knebelkamp of the Willow Hill Golf Course in Northbrook, IL who have given us a wonderful launch location high on a hill.

Look for part 2 of today’s flight where we go to sleep

73, Cary, KD9ITO

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.