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The Nienberge Amateur Radio Group (Germany) performed its second balloon launch on sunday, 07-16-95.
This was our announcement:
> We planned to have another emergency beacon with our regular balloon > equipment, and it now is ready for a launch. Since we have some > (smaller ) spare balloons, we plan to do a launch with only this rig: 2 m > beacon - no data, no remote control, no gas valve; just launching and > parachuting (hopefully) "home" after bursting.It should be a 2 - 3 hours flight.
Yes, that's what we intended... but, of course, the actual flight was totally different!
Launch: # 2 Launch date 07-16-95 Launch time: 1201 UTC Launch site: Nienberge near Muenster, NW Germany, JO32SA Payload DLØART/am: QRG/mod.: 144.991 MHz F1A beacon: call sign and info in FM audio CM, in between freq shift slow (- - - - - - = balloon lifts) or fast (......... = balloon is descending) (using a quicksilver switch) Power: 100 mW Antenna: groundplane Power supply: 9 V batteries (3 parallel) Diameter ballon: ca. 3 ft Gas: hydrogen Parachute: ca. 5 ft Weight: 490 g (over all) Lift rate: ca. 200 g Schematic of balloon (UTC) 11:00 Meeting of the team at launch site 11:20 weather data: ground wind 14 knots, 240 deg 12:01 launch 12:10 DF teams start to their dedicated areasThe author had a hard moment when the parachute of the launched balloon did not open immediately - but after a few moments, it did...
So far, everything was on schedule.
But it turned out that the ballon was drifting E/SE with quite a high speed. The DF teams had a very hard time following. At 14:30 the balloon left quit the area of the maps used by the teams (we use a very special system for giving DF results to the coordinator). Furthermore, the main DF coordintor, Joachim, DL3YBQ), had to head home and left us alone... I guess that was the moment when we lost (just a little bit) control of the situation. And: the beacon signal still indicated the balloon lifting!
The DF teams continued following the balloon, but soon it is obvious that its speed was to high for us - most of the teams were just driving on highways in this rural area where we found ourselves. These roads seemed to lead anywere except to the place were the balloon apparently was... so we finally switched over to interstates. At about 18:00 most of us were in the Goettingen area (160 km linear distance), and still the DF results were unanimous: east!
East of Goettingen, the Harz begins - a secondary chain of mountains (summits up to 3200 ft). Another old man located in these mountains told us that his QTE also was - east.
So we finally decided at 18:30 UTC - that was 20:30 local time and about the time of sun set - to finish our hunt and go home.
What has happened?
Obviously, the lift of the balloon was not sufficient to bring it to a height where it would burst. We ae not sure if the gaz filling was insufficient or if maybe the parachute had slowed the lift so much that the balloon already lost too much gaz on its way up. It also passed a thunderstorm area, so maybe the balloon and the payload were covered with ice during some parts of its journey.
There also was another (so far) unexplained effect: about 2 hours after the launch, the beacon freq increased by abt 4 or 5 kHz, but decreased after 30 min by abt 6 or 7 kHz, increased again and so on. The transmitter was crystal-controlled, and was thermically quite well isolated in a styrofoam box - so what could be the reason?
But there also were some very positive things to tell: Since we used the local 70 cm repeaters for talk back (and quite a few of them during our long journey, hi), we drew the attention of many OMs to us, or better the balloon. Many of them help us with triangular DF or just told which roads to use and so (how do I get right across through Bielefeld - quite a large city - as fast as possible?). Even some days later, we heard OMs on our local repeater asking what had happened to the balloon, did we recover the payload and so on. That by itself was probably the biggest success of this launch - consider that ballooning is not that popular in Germany as it apparently is in the US.
Besides that, on every upcoming launch we will add a receiver to the equipment for remote control of a relaese unit for the payload (Guess why?).
Meanwhile, we are happy that we got the payload back (even if its value is limited). We got reception reports even from Bremen - a distance of about 100 km.
Any suggestion or response is always welcome! Please tell me if you want to be added to our mailing list!
Best 73, Oliver
[Oliver Welp, DL9QJ, N3NSF Gustav-Freytag-Str.11 / D-48161 Muenster / GERMANY Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com PR: DL9QJ@DBØEA.#NRW.DEU.EU Tel./Fax: +49-2533-7312]