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Record VK balloon flight gets in news media

Date : 25 / 07 / 2015
Author : Jim Linton - VK3PC

The high altitude flight by a standard foil party balloon launched from a Williamstown park in Melbourne Australia, which lasted eight weeks, travelling more than 110,800 kilometres, has been covered by the news media. Andy Nguyen is a network engineer by day, but in his spare time gets into the 'balloon scene', and his love of Amateur Radio.'The Age' newspaper in Melbourne and the 'Sydney Morning Herald' reports that he makes the tiny electronics payload for the standard 90cm helium-filled party balloons.

Andy is known as the master of miniaturisation, tethering by a fishing line a payload of a 25 mW transmitter, using standard HF frequencies in WSPR and the JT9 modes, a GPS, solar panel for power - all weighing a mere 11 grams. The Age reports that the record distance flight was achieved by PS-46 launched from Melbourne Australia on May 23. It went around the southern hemisphere twice and leaving South Africa in storm on July 18, was lost just short of its third circumnavigation of Earth. He has been ballooning for two years, and admits being attracted to the hobby of Amateur Radio by the challenge of designing and making small light weight electronic parts, that work under extreme conditions.

From experience the temperature goes down to minus 55 degrees, the air is so thin that UV radiation is a serious consideration. The Age quotes Andy VK3YT: "I don't think that's been done before with a party balloon. They usually do one circumnavigation. Two was a bonus but then this one just kept going." He explained that global wind patterns were favourable, its longevity was helped by good weather and good timing, with the journey missing adverse weather.
The balloon transmitted its location every 30 minutes, with the signal picked up in Australia and New Zealand to Argentina, South Africa, the US, Sweden and Peru.

The Age article by Bridie Smith, the newspaper’s Science Editor, has the balloon’s entire path traced by an online simulation. Read the full article via the following Link

Jim Linton VK3PC



 

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