Sunday, April 6, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
We will try again tomorrow evening. Also, it looks like we will be flying an APRS tracker after all - so we will be looking for European APRS users who would be willing to tune their radios down to 144.39 Mhz for a day or so.
More information tomorrow. Again, sorry for the late notice.
If you are along the flight path shown below and can monitor 29.499 for us later tonight (for U.S. listeners) or the evening of 07 April (for European listeners), please do so!
Tonight, at 0200 UTC on 06 April, we will launch Soli Deo Gloria 10. This flight is another trans-Atlantic attempt by KC8UCH and KA2QPG but, unlike previous attempts, this will be a zero-pressure flight with ballast drop.
The image to the right shows the trajectory predictions for this flight - we plan to fly along the blue line. The big dot near the end of each line (in Europe/Africa) represents 0000 UTC on 08 April - SDG-10 should be on the ground (or in the water) by then.
The big question at the moment is which payload we will be flying. It will either be an APRS tracker on 144.39 Mhz (which will require European stations to tune down to that frequency for us) or another 10 metre beacon on 29.499 Mhz. If you are in southern Europe (preferably southern Spain) and would be willing to tune your APRS station over to 144.39 for us, please let us know right away!
More details will be announced as we get closer to flight time. There's much to do between now and then....
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Other than post-analysis of the Annapolis pass, the mission is over. Even if the balloon is still flying (this particular balloon has a theoretical lifespan of around 21 days), the transmitter should be silent by now. The image at right shows the final trajectory prediction, this time going far beyond the life of the batteries.
Many thanks to all who have contributed to this flight. Please stay tuned for Soli Deo Gloria 10 in the coming days!
Other than that, only a couple of "nothing heard" reports. Anyone else logging last night? If so - and you see something of interest - please let us know. Otherwise, we're about to pull the plug on SDG-9, as the batteries should be just about exhausted by now.
from wl KM17UX
AT 080324 1430Z QRG 29.498.84 QSA 1
AT 080324 1830Z QRG 29.497.00 QSA 1
AT 080314 1930Z QRG 29.496.87 QSA 1
AT 080325 0830Z QRG 29.497.88 QSA 1/0
RIG IS FT 857D ANT 3 EL 3 BAND BEAMING 340 DEG.
SIGNAL DEDECTED BY Sound Card data-MMVARI
Engine of Logger 32. gb de sv1ku.
Thanks and 73,
Monday, March 24, 2008
The latter is entirely possible and fits well with the temperature data that was received by WB2YDS early in the flight. This lower altitude also greatly increases the chance of frost downing the balloon, but it could still be flying. Were it at the design altitude of 9-10km, then it should already be over Spain at this point (extremely unlikely, unless the transmitter has somehow failed).
If it is still flying and at 8km, then it should be over Greenland right now and about 12 hours away from the UK. Keep listening, folks - it isn't over quite yet!
73 and thanks to all for your help,
One station, M0XAP in Essex, reported hearing an "S" and a "G" in CW whilst monitoring 29.495 on USB at around 11:45 today - this could be nothing or, perhaps, this was the beacon (the "S" might have been part of a number in the telemetry string). England, please keep listening!
If we still have nothing in another day, then we can assume that the balloon probably met a cold, icy end... If the original float was closer to 8km than 9km, then it might have picked up significant frost over northern Canada or even Greenland. This would have forced the balloon to the ground, ending the mission.
I want to reiterate, though, that we simply don't know at this point and it is still entirely likely that the balloon will be heard in Europe. So please, keep monitoring 29.499 (and lower after sunset, possibly down by as much as 3khz).
Many, many thanks to Dan Bowen and the SNOX team for passing along our information to their listening network in Europe!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
That is, given the ambiguity about the balloon's exact altitude and thus trajectory, it could be within range of England now or it might not arrive for another day or so. Once it is within range of a given station, it will probably be readable for four to six hours at most. So if you have the ability to set up Spectran or some other recording software, now would be the time to do it. A gap of four hours could cause you to miss the balloon entirely.
Assuming that we make it to England, the next passover would be Spain. Please see the image in the previous post for more information on possible trajectories.
NB: After a long night at -45C, the frequency of the transmitter will most likely have been shifted significantly downward (WB2YDS noted a drop from 29.499 to 29.496 Mhz as the payload temperature dropped from -9C to -40C after sunset on the first day of the flight).
If you hear it at all, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks and 73,
There are three distinct possibilities as to what has happened to SDG-9:
1. It had pinholes or other defects and subsequently lost gas, causing it to descend.
2. Radiative losses during the night cooled the gas sufficiently to offset the initial superpressure and decrease the balloon's volume, causing it to descend.
3. It is still flying.
The first alternative is certainly possible, but earlier SDG flights have demonstrated that our three-layer film is capable of holding gas under pressure for at least 32 hours (our previous flight record). It could have lost gas due to a mechanical defect, but I doubt it.
The second alternative is what most likely cut many of our earlier flights short. In particular, SDG-6, the 32 hour flight, almost certainly suffered from radiative losses and subsequent contraction of the gas (and loss of lift) when it descended the first night. I believe that we have corrected this problem, however, by almost doubling our initial superpressure compared to our earlier balloons (from 5% to 10%).
The third possibility - that it is still flying - is certainly my fondest hope and it is entirely likely. If so, then, save any possible listeners in Greenland (are there amateur radio ops in Greenland?), the next place where it might be heard is Iceland and, thereafter, Scotland.
Assuming that the balloon reached stable float at 9km, it should pass Iceland between 1800z today and 0000z on the 24th. It should then reach Scotland about four hours later, at 0400z on 24 March.
If stable float was indeed at 10km - which I doubt - then it will be a bit behind that schedule, nearing Iceland at 0400z on the 24th and Scotland several hours later.
The accompanying HYSPLIT projection (click it to see a larger image) shows trajectories for 8, 9 and 10km altitudes to battery exhaustion, about 96 hours after launch. Note that the 8km trajectory still leads to Europe, but quite a bit later. (Note the time scale along the bottom of the image.)
Please, if you can spare any time at all this Easter to monitor 29.499 Mhz for our CW signal, please do so! Without listeners, the balloon could easily fly over continental Europe and no one would even know! Note that the frequency tends to drop a bit after local sunset for the balloon, so keep this in mind when listening.
We gratefully acknowledge the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model and/or READY website (http://www.arl.noaa.gov/ready.html) used in the accompanying trajectory projection.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
If anyone in Newfoundland is reading this right now, please listen to 29.499 Mhz right now and see if you can hear the beacon! Even if it is there right now, it will be moving very fast and the chance to hear it will be quickly over.
Thanks to all who have written and asked about it... We remain hopeful and welcome any reports.
DE KA2QPG BLN F 000 A 000 EMAIL ROCHTE AT GMAIL.COM AR
Where the number following "F" is the frame counter, incrementing with each transmission, and the number following "A" is a numeric code representing temperature. Below is a table of numeric values and associated temperatures in Celsius.
Note that both the "A" value and the frequency of the beacon will drift significantly downward after local sunset for the balloon.
The last two strings that he copied (at 2314z and 2322z) seemed to show the temperature leveling off at around -40C, which would indicate a float about 2km lower than the designed float altitude. If this is indeed the case, then we could have some problems - 2km lower means that we will run into a good deal more moisture on our northern voyage and possibly pick up ice. Just a bit lower yet - at around 7.5km in altitude - the entire trajectory changes and the balloon ends up floating aimlessly in the doldrums.
On the other hand, Pierre, KA2QPG, the designer of the beacon and my cohort in this endeavour, points out that the beacon itself gives off about 100mW of heat and could be skewing the internal temperature a bit. If so, then we could still be at 9-10km and heading in the right direction. We'll see.
At around 1800z today, *if* the balloon is on the right trajectory, it should be passing Newfoundland at about two hundred miles off the east coast. I've alerted some amateur radio ops in NL and they will be listening!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Below is a link to a short YouTube video of the balloon and payload shortly after launch. Sorry, no better pics or video of the actual launch are extant (my 12 year old son and I were a little busy with the launch itself - I pulled the camera out of my pocket as soon as I could!).
Now if the balloon can survive sundown in a few hours (were those pinholes sealed or not?!), perhaps we can look forward to the 48 hour flight projection shown below... Any listeners to the north?