Weather Balloon - Summer 2011

Manager: Derek
Team: Eric, Joel, Jamie, RyanC
Premise: Launch a high altitude weather ballon with video and still photo capabilities


We are going to launch a weather ballon to achieve three goals:

  1. Obtain pictures and video of St. Louis and the earth from high altitude
  2. Execute a well organized project to attract people to Arch Reactor
  3. Provide a good knowledge base and experience for future flights

A KCI1200 balloon is capable of reaching in excess of 90k feet.  We'll have a payload containing a still camera, HD video camera, high altitude GPS, cell phone to broadcast low level GPS and an Arduino logging sensor information.

Team Members

Derek, Eric, Joel, Jamie, and RyanC

Timeline and Milestones

July 30thGrant submitted to AR
July 12thGrant Approved
July 14thOrdered balloon,gps,phone and camera
August 2ndPostponed target date
 Passed HAM test
August 5thAll materials have arrived
August 13thTarget Launch Date
Sept. 11thNew target launch date with full moon


Weight Catalog

  • Parachute            68g
  • Video Camera  160g
  • Cell Phone          84g
  • A560 no bat       166g

Team Notes

  • Need to look into IR and blue filters
  • Moon path

    On Aug 13 the moon rises at 7:41pm and the sun sets at 7:58pm


    At 8:10pm the moon will be about 4.5 deg above the horizon.

    At 8:30pm the moon will be about 8.15 deg above the horizon.

    At 8:45pm the moon will be about 10.85 deg above the horizon.


    The moon will be approx 240,000 miles from St. Louis.   At 80,000 feet, your camera will only be 15 miles off the surface, which is a difference in angle of 0.006%.  So however far you want the moon off of the horizon in your pictures, you can safely use what you’d observe from the ground.





Antenna Stuff


APRS Notes:

FAA/Safety Related:

FLDIGI info:


Programming Notes:

<M0JSN> what did you use in the end?
<Upu> ong TEST=((float(LONGM)/60.0)+(float(LONGS)/3600.0))*1000000L;
<Upu> long TEST=((float(LONGM)/60.0)+(float(LONGS)/3600.0))*1000000L;
<Upu> sprintf(TELEMETRYSTRING,"$$AVA,%i.%06li",int(LONGDEC),TEST);
<fsphil> heck of a calculation lol


CHDK Script:

arch reactor balloon script v5
Authors: Arch Reactor Hackerspace (Jamie Bilinski, Derek Sigler, Eric Geldmacher, Ryan Castanho)
Tested on: A480 (Digic 3)

Uses propcase lib
@title ArchReactor Balloon Script
@param t Min Sec Delay between images
@default t 10
@param j Number of JPEGs/cycle
@default j 10
@param d Number of Raw/cycle
@default d 1
@param e EV Bracketing delta/6
@default e 4
param l est low alt mins
default l 45
param h high alt time mins
default h 110
param r est reenty time min
default r 185

h=((t-1)*1000)+930 --adjust for write time
if h < 9000 then w=9000-h else w=1 end --process delay ms after RAW shot

function flashoff()
 set_prop(142,2) --no flash
 while not get_prop(142) == 2 do
 return true

function setfocuslock()
 set_prop(6,3) --infinity
 while not get_prop(6) == 3 do
 return true

function snapraws()
 for i=1,d do 
   until get_shooting() == true
 return true

function snapjpgs()
 for i=1,j do 
   until get_shooting() == true
 return true

function snapevbrac()
 for i=1,e do
  if (evi-(i*32)) < 1 then set_ev(1) else set_ev(evi-(i*32)) end --may need in certain light?
  until get_shooting() == true
  until get_shooting() == true

--{{ Maybe next time!
function logtemp()
print get_temperature(0)
print get_temperature(1)
print get_temperature(2)

click("shoot_half") --in case A480 is in play mode
 play_sound(4) --beep each cycle so we know it's running
 until false
reboot() --meh


*replace "{" and "}" with right and left bracket


Notes from IRC:

<priyesh> on an NTX2, would you permanently keep the EN pin high or use the microcontroller to take it high only during transmission?
<Darkside> keep it high
<Darkside> we've found that fldigi demodulates RTTY better if theres a constant carrier
<fsphil> unless you're after power savings for a long flight, that's pretty much the only time you'd need to toggle EN
<Darkside> if you don't have it, it can loose the first few bytes as it synchronises
<priyesh> Darkside: ahh. thanks for the advice
<Darkside> sode*
<jgrahamc> On GAGA-1 I had EN tied on permanently because then it's easy to find the carrier.  Also, it doesn't draw much current and there's a 'startup time' whenever EN is enabled.


Posted by
Derek Sigler's picture
Derek Sigler
on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Filed under balloon
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Sunday, April 22nd

  1. Open Build Something!
    • Start time: 07:00pm
    • End time: 10:00pm
    • Where: 2215 Scott Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA
    • Come stop by and visit! Open build night to work on projects and hang out!

    • View this event in Google Calendar

Tuesday, April 24th

  1. Class: 3D Printer Basics

Thursday, April 26th

  1. Armoring Class: Riveting Basics
    • Start time: 06:00pm
    • End time: 09:00pm
    • Where: Arch Reactor, 2215 Scott Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA
    • This is the first of a monthly class series on Armoring, with an emphasis on SCA (Society For Creative Anachronism) legal armor. These classes will be co-hosted by Amberly Brown and Mike Martin and open to anyone with an interest in Armor for SCA, LARP, cosplay, etc.Riveting Basics:

      • What type of rivet should you use for different materials.
      • Tips and tricks for riveting in tight places.
      • How to rivet joints and other flexible connections.
      • Discussion, hands-on examples, and open time to work on your project with two experienced SCA fighters and armorers.
      • Rivets and some strapping leather will be available (copper, hardened aluminum, and brass rivets. Black leather) but if you have your own, please bring it.
      • No cost, but donations to AR are always welcome.
    • View this event in Google Calendar

Friday, April 27th

  1. 3D Printer Meetup

Saturday, April 28th

  1. Sewing Cat Trap Covers & Stuffing Catnip Mice
    • Start time: 10:00am
    • End time: 02:00pm
    • Where: 2215 Scott Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA, Arch Reactor
    • Please join members and supporters of St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach at Arch Reactor (2215 Scott Ave, 63103, behind UPS) to help sew trap-covers which they will use when trapping kitties (for trap/neuter/return activities) and members of Stray Haven Feline Rescue to stuff catnip mice, on Saturday, April 28. We'll start about 10 and some of us will be there until at least 2pm, possibly later.

      For sewing trap covers, two or three sewing machines will be supplied but feel free to bring your own. We have plenty of table space for both sewing and cutting. For Mouse-stuffing, mice, fluff, and catnip will be supplied.

      Can't sew? Come help cut and pin or stuff mice or just help keep us organized!

      If you have fleece to donate, please bring it along (best if at least 30" x 36" pieces but we can make it work if smaller. Any other large pieces of fabric (like old, sturdy bed sheets) can also work for trap covers.

      The time of this event is flexible, so feel free to come late, leave early, or stay later than 2pm.

      Arch Reactor will be hosting monthly Board Game Day starting around noon but we have plenty of space to accommodate both groups simultaneously. If you like gaming, please feel free to join in that event which will run until at least 10pm, possibly much later.

      Soda and bottled water are available for modest donation. TJs pizza available for lunch if you wish for $10 each with a wide variety of flavors in stock or feel free to bring in a sack lunch. Microwave also available.

    • View this event in Google Calendar
  2. April BoardGame Night * ArchReactor
    • Start time: 12:00pm
    • End time: 11:30pm
    • Where: 2215 Scott Ave, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA, Archreactor, Arch Reactor
    • Come On Out and Play games With us. If you don't know games that's OK we are friendly and love to teach. If you do, bring your Favorites along and let get a Game in.

      We'll have Food there, and I'll happily take 5$ in exchange for letting you eat all day.

      We start at Noonish and Play until you Leave or after Midnight, whichever comes last. :)

    • View this event in Google Calendar