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How to track a weather balloon?

 
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deneo_e
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Joined: Mar 07, 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:36 pm    Post subject: How to track a weather balloon? Reply with quote

Hi there,

A group of us are currently launching a weather balloon that will reach a very high altitude and require some way of tracking its location - inparticularly for retreiving it once its landed!

The system needs to be reasonably small, inexpensive, not too heavy and easy to set up - knowledge of micro-interfacing very limited.

Any help or ideas?

Thanks, :o)
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mikealder
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Joined: Jan 14, 2005
Posts: 19636
Location: Blackpool , Lancs

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the forum, have a look at This - you will need to provide a power source (battery etc) but the device is very low power in current consumption - Mike
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Skippy
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Joined: 24/06/2003 00:22:12
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Location: London N51.50793 W0.12807

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome

How high is "very high"? Shocked

Bear in mind that GPS units may have limits on the altitude that they will can calculate a fix, I think it's 60,000 feet or so!

Watch out for battery life if the unit is going to get very cold - I presume you are well aware that the cold kills the battery very quickly.
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WLMOATE
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Joined: Mar 03, 2006
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two challenges that you will need to over come are drift of freq due to the extreme tempratures any of your radio equipment is exposed to.

You may get out of range of the GSM base once you reach an altitude above 5 miles. This could be improved by using a small yagi style antenna. DO not purchase one just make it form thick copper wire to keep weight down

Another solution is to use licensce free radio equip www.lprs.co.uk they supply some modules that you can connect directly to a gps rciever. The ground station could use a reciever with high gain Yagi antenna, and the data could be fed directly into a PC using google earth .

If you need more details just ask
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lbendlin
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Joined: 02/11/2002 22:41:59
Posts: 11876
Location: Massachusetts, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this has been done a few times already. The cheapest solution is a SMS based GPS tracker. Yes, it won't function above a certain altitude but then again you only need it when you retrieve the balloon. GPS itself has no altitude limitation (heck, the ISS is using it...)
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simontdc
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Joined: 11/03/2003 08:29:43
Posts: 64
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have something - http://www.tdc.co.uk/index.php?key=lr8m03 - but bear in mind it is illegal to use GSM in an airborne situation - not because of interference with aircraft, but it is the terms of use of GSM - similar to most PMR licences.

This is mainly because your balloon would be able to 'see' GSM base stations for hundreds of miles once airborne! - and the networks will suffer interference.
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simontdc
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Joined: 11/03/2003 08:29:43
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Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And again, commercial GPS units will refuse to present a fix over the SPS height limit of 60,000 feet. You may well be able to recover psuedo-range information (I have not tested it...), but position will not (or at least should not) be returned. Export licences would not be granted for navigation equipment without such a restriction.

L2 receivers will work though at greater altitudes, they will not have a restriction.
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