Several of our recent launch’s have been troubled with tracker problems. The issue seems to be fake microcontrollers that don’t operate well in cold temperatures. The symptom was the tracker worked great on the ground but intermittent in the air. Using spray “Super Cold” located the the problem. A new batch of microcontrollers were used and the problem was fixed.
We launched a balloon on April 17th. It lit up later and the unexpectedly stopped reporting. Based on altitude I thought the one balloon had developed a flat. Robert K6RGG noticed it was sending the 18th. I was late turning on the WSPR to APRS gateway so only recent tracks are shown on APRS. It looks lit if has a pinhole leak in one balloon so it may not be up for long. Work continues on preparing cheap Chinese balloons and we are testing newer 32″ spherical balloons that should reach higher altitudes.
Because of a flaky beacon, there have been just a few position reports. W6MRR-23 just phoned home over the Atlantic Ocean for a second time. The tracker problem seems to be due to counterfeit microcontrollers. I have another batch that should fix things.
Last Sunday Kazu AG6NS and I tried putting up a tethered pico balloon up flying Kazu’s SSTV code on a ESP-32. It was sending “Martin-1” mode SSTV directly modulating a Si5351 clock generator chip. Due to slow but steady light winds it spent most of the time flying horizontally. We will have something ready to fly soon – stay tuned!
We’re trying something new this time: floating a tethered balloon with an ESP32-CAM that will transmit SSTV images on 20m, frequency 14.236MHz USB Mode Martin-1. This is a project that Kazu AG6NS has been working on recently, with some help from Martin W6MRR.
To see this in person, go to the northern area of the Berkeley Marina as indicated around the position identified on the map link below:
After a series of failures to send after launching, there seems to be an intermittent problem with the same tracker. It is alternating on 20 and 40 m, with most of the 40 m transmission lost. We test on the ground prior to launch and never have problems. It may be temperature related problem due to counterfeit parts.
We’re launching a pico balloon this Sunday morning, January 30th at 9:00 AM pacific time. If you’re in the area and would like to see the launch, please join us at the Berkeley Marina on the north side on Marina Blvd. See the map link below for the location.
There were a few final position reports on 2021-12-23. The balloon had not crossed the Intentional Date Line but has gotten further than previous attempts. The last signals were received by CA stations so at least my signals circumnavigated.