Weather Balloon Inflation System

My new weather balloon inflator from High Altitude Science has just arrived. Yes, it looks like just a high-pressure hose with a CGA-580 brass fitting, but it represents a lot more. It has the weight system so we can attach weights to easily calculate our nozzle lift, and the other end is designed to snugly fit into the neck of the balloon. It also means we can safely inflate the balloon with a much higher flow rate than before.

If you've been to previous launches, you probably remember people in cramped positions under the balloon with cramped hands from holding that little party balloon tilt valve open for long periods of time. You may have even been one of those people! Those days are over. We can now insert the end into the neck of the balloon, secure it with electrical tape, and open the cylinder's master valve. We'll need to keep a hand on the valve to slow it down and stop it, but that should be much more comfortable and much faster.

To top it off, I'll leave you with this image, which was a nice personal touch that came with the package.

WGARS Balloon Launch Presentation

Just a few notes and bullet points for me to use for the short presentation at the 4/11/2017 WGARS club meeting. It won't make much sense to read as an article, but if you're here because I mentioned it in my talk, you can look at the cool photos at the end. :)

  • The balloon is a weather balloon, not standard party-type balloon. It's big: 10 feet when inflated, 20 feet when near burst alt.
  • Try to keep the payload lightweight - around 4 lbs. Styrofoam cooler
  • Track it with amateur radio: reports its position with APRS connected to GPS. Standard APRS frequency - 144.390 MHz
  • Simplex repeater, amazing range at that altitude. Frequency TBD
  • You can also track it on by entering N4BWR-11. I-gates send APRS traffic to internet
  • We do a morning prediction from several sites to get an idea where it's going, discuss, and then start driving
  • You can track with aprs-enabled radio while moving, or on on a phone or tablet with a data plan
  • Bit of fox hunting (RDF work) at the end. May not be able to hit an I-gate on the ground, and it may not be immediately visible. Treat it like a fox and triangulate

 Click photos to view full size. Click here to see all 362 flight photos

Support Our Weather Balloon Flights

Many of you know that I launch weather balloons with the West Georgia Amateur Radio Society. While they are fun, and a good learning experience (and even an emcomm training experience), they are expensive. I have already purchased the cameras and tracking equipment. The balloon and helium for each launch cost more than $100 each. You can help support us by purchasing a t-shirt (don't forget to customize it with your callsign!), or donating to our GoFundMe campaign. Thanks for your support!


Balloon Launch & Recovery Team T-shirt  GoFundMe Campaign