Notes from the HacDC weather-balloon underground

As previously mentioned by Todd F., a team of HacDC’ers are participating in the Hacker-spaces in Space competition…

We’ve put together an Atmel ATmega based TNC (Terminal Node Controller) to send out position reports over a VHF radio link using APRS (Amateur Radio Position Reporting System) and are now testing antennas.

We have been shopping for balloons, bottled gas, cord, and other various bits. Tom C. got a worn out parachute donated to us by Skydive Orange. Mark A. & family are busy making a parachute and polystyrene capsules. Nick is building a surface mount board for the TNC, GPS, transmitter module and cut down circuits. It looks like we’ll easily make the weight budget and cost.

Many of us are acquiring radio licenses and honing radio skills to learn how to track the beacon and coordinate chase teams. We are learning how to study radiosonde data and use flight planning software to figure the best best launch locations.

Many thanks to the Vienna Wireless Society for much help and for letting us watch their very successful May 1 flight (photoset by Mark A.).

We anticipate a full-up test flight mid-June. You’re welcome to join us on the mailing list.

(This post was drafted by Martin R. Thanks, Martin!)