8/6/2022 Launch Day!

 It's launch day! We will be meeting at 9 AM at the VFW Fairgrounds (1625 Bankhead Highway, Carrollton GA). We plan to launch around 10, or whenever everything is ready. See this link for the current flight prediction. Keep in mind that varying ascent or descent rates will stretch or compress that part of the path, but the general shape of the flight prediction is what to watch. Take a look at the predicted burst point and landing site. The distance between them is 5.0057 miles, and the heading from burst to landing is 284.55 degrees. Once we know the actual burst point, we can get very close to the landing site before it lands by using this tool to calculate that point based on distance and heading.

We will begin communications on the W4FWD repeater (146.640, negative offset, 131.8 hertz tone), See the Incident Radio Communication Plan linked below to see the repeater, balloon, and APRS frequencies. We may use the balloon uplink frequency for simplex communications on the ground at the landing area. The WB4GNA repeater is also a good alternative (147.090, positive offset, 131.8 hertz tone).

You can track the balloon on aprs.fi here. In that link, I've set the track tail length to three hours to cover the whole flight. If you would like a way to track the balloon alongside the prediction on your mobile device, you can click here, save the KMZ file to your device, and open it in the Google Earth app.

 

Flight Day Resources:

  • ICS-205 Incident Radio Communications Plan - For a list of the frequencies used for tracking the balloon and communication
  • N4BWR's Weather Balloon Trajectory Map - Updated at least every morning with the latest prediction for launch day. After 8 AM on 7/10, that will be the operational map for launch day.
  • Tracking of W4FWD-11 on aprs.fi - You can use this site on any computer or mobile device to track the flight of the balloon in real time. Click the balloon icon to see details, including altitude. You can also click on any of the previous red dots on its track for the same information at that point.
  • Live Tracking Alongside Prediction - If I remember to update this file (which is a big "if"), you will be able to view the current flight path along with that day's prediction in the Google Earth app on your device. As of the time of this writing on 7/9, the predicted flight path shown in the file is for a flight we had last year. 
  • Find Terminal Coordinates, Given a Bearing and a Distance - This is a fun one. I have found a highly accurate method to pinpoint where the balloon will land once actual burst has happened by taking the compass heading and distance between predicted burst and predicted landing and applying that once actual burst has happened. This is the site where I will be plugging in the actual burst point and the predicted distance and heading to find the endpoint. I will certainly be announcing this information over our text group and any radio frequencies we're using at the time, but will probably also let everyone know that morning what the predicted distance and heading is so you can plug that in yourself. 

Weather Balloon Launch on 8/6/2022!

RESCHEDULED TO 8/6/2022

It's that time again! The West Georgia Amateur Radio Society is planning to launch a high-altitude weather balloon on July 23rd, 2022 from the VFW Fairgrounds in Carrollton, Georgia. 

We will plan to meet at 9 AM at 1625 Bankhead Highway, Carrollton, to begin setup and inflation. Inflation goes pretty quickly. It's just a matter of rounding everyone up and getting the entire process completed. The payload also needs to be secured, and we test to make sure the system is beaconing before we seal everything up. Since we don't know the exact time that launch will happen, we recommend that you arrive around 9 AM and watch the whole process. If you haven't seen it before, it is interesting to watch.

Once launch has happened, the chase begins. We will discuss the morning's flight forecast (go ahead and play with the predictor here) and develop our best approximation of a game plan. While you do not need an amateur radio license, you may want to tag along with someone who has done this before. You can follow the tracking live on your mobile device here.

8/28/2021 Balloon Launch

We are meeting at 9 AM at the VFW Fairgrounds in Carrollton for the balloon launch. You can find the map of the morning's flight prediction here. Before the morning of the 28th, it's probably showing an old prediction. If you find this article after the 28th, the map is probably showing later predictions.

UPDATED: Weather Balloon Launch Still a Go for 7/10/2021

 

Our weather balloon launch is still a go for 7/10/2021. Current predictions have us near Oxford, and some are in the National Forest. For that reason, we will be tying 100 feet of line between the parachute and the payload. The thinking is that, if the parachute gets caught in a tall tree, the payload may still fall out and be within reach. 

We will arrive at the VFW Fairgrounds in Carrollton at 9 AM and plan to launch at 10. Forecasts are still sketchy, but seem to be indicating at least scattered rain or thunderstorms. We will get the payload prepared to the point of being ready to tie it off and take the first opportunity to safely inflate, checking the radar to make sure there is no lightning in the vicinity. If there is, we may wait it out for a short time. 

It's going to be an interesting day. The chase and recovery are always an adventure. Be prepared for muddy Alabama county roads, hiking, dense forests, and a recovery in tall trees! We will have plenty of stories to tell. If you have any questions about our plans, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I have created a recovery team group text for us to maintain communication and easily exchange things like the coordinates of the estimated landing site. If you would like to be in on that group text and have not already told me, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Flight Day Resources:

  • ICS-205 Incident Radio Communications Plan - For a list of the frequencies used for tracking the balloon and communication
  • N4BWR's Weather Balloon Trajectory Map - Updated at least every morning with the latest prediction for launch day. After 8 AM on 7/10, that will be the operational map for launch day.
  • Tracking of W4FWD-11 on aprs.fi - You can use this site on any computer or mobile device to track the flight of the balloon in real time. Click the balloon icon to see details, including altitude. You can also click on any of the previous red dots on its track for the same information at that point.
  • Live Tracking Alongside Prediction - If I remember to update this file (which is a big "if"), you will be able to view the current flight path along with that day's prediction in the Google Earth app on your device. As of the time of this writing on 7/9, the predicted flight path shown in the file is for a flight we had last year. 
  • Find Terminal Coordinates, Given a Bearing and a Distance - This is a fun one. I have found a highly accurate method to pinpoint where the balloon will land once actual burst has happened by taking the compass heading and distance between predicted burst and predicted landing and applying that once actual burst has happened. This is the site where I will be plugging in the actual burst point and the predicted distance and heading to find the endpoint. I will certainly be announcing this information over our text group and any radio frequencies we're using at the time, but will probably also let everyone know that morning what the predicted distance and heading is so you can plug that in yourself.