[Balloons] Fw: Balloon Launch

COREY MESENBRINK kc0yns at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 6 20:31:33 CST 2011

Greetings to the group, Emailed Mark, After coming across his name on the net. 
He is scheduled to do a demo in Nebraska at a hamfest on Balloon launches. Just 
thought I would pass this along...Corey    

Hi Corey,

I agree it would be best to use APRS for your first flight.  There are several 
lightweight packages out there that would fit within your weight budget.  

If you use 144.39 MHz for one of your APRS packages, the regular network will 
pick it up to within a few thousand feet AGL.  From those position reports and 
knowledge of what the winds are like, you can narrow your search radius if 
you're not close enough to hear it directly.  With normal flights, we have had 
few issues with locating the payload even if we weren't close to it at landing.  

A radar reflector is not worth the weight.  A couple of groups have done 
experiments with reflectors while ATC tried to look for it.  They could not see 
it even if they knew exactly where to look.  Normal filtering algorithms in the 
radar data processing removes such slow-moving echoes - that all has to be 
turned off to even have a chance of spotting it.  Routine aircraft tracking is 
done by active transponders.

What kind of balloon do you have?  Most of the time they are sized by weight in 
grams.  A 300-gram balloon will get you around 60,000-70,000 ft with a 3-lb 

You may want to read over FAR Part 101 for unmanned free balloon regulations.  
If you abide by certain weight, density, and load line strength limits, you're 
exempt from any reporting requirements.  If you have contact with the FAA they 
will likely welcome your reports but they are not mandatory if you are exempt.  
NSTAR follows the exemption requirements and thus we have not done anything 
beyond file NOTAMs.  If you go outside the exemption restrictions, you then have 
to get waivers which may involve real-time updates.

This is an online book by the guy who mentored me into the hobby and well worth 

Also, one of the most active groups has an extensive web site with loads of 
technical details on their payloads:

I should have some time one evening later in the week if you want to talk by 
phone.  I can let you know what evenings would work best in a day or two - this 
will give you a chance to look through the online stuff which should help you a 

73 de Mark N9XTN
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