Practice your morse code, exercise your rotor gears, and help someone track their balloon, ... all at the same time!

Iain McFadyen mcfadyenusa at
Sat Dec 31 22:17:46 CST 2005

Hi gang!

If you are at a loose end on Sunday morning, you might be interesting in
helping a group in Tennessee track their balloon.

It has a payload which consists of a 0.5 watt transmitter sending CW on 14.325
+/-. I've been copying it on about 14.3265 MHz this evening. (I haven't asked
why they chose this freq. SSB QRM was a problem early on).

The signal has now disappeared. The last reception report was at about 2300
local time, and this report indicated that the GPS had lost lock ("00 sats"),
so the lat and long were out of date. 

If it lands in water overnight, this payload is designed to stay upright, with
the 14MHz antenna element held upright by the partially filled balloon. Then
when sun hits it tomorrow, it will probably take off again. 

The telemetry format can be found by clicking the hyperlink at the bottom of
the first paragraph of text on this page:

This page also has the necessary form, so that you can submit any reception

I've been listening from my perch in the radio room in the lower basement at
American Red Cross. I have three receivers and three antennas:  R-8 vertical, 
Moseley Log Periodic, and a B&W folded dipole pointing SouthEast, all at about
100ft agl. The vertical has far out-performed the other two in this case. The
B&W dipole received one transmission better than the vertical, but at all
other times, the receive signal on the vertical has been best.

The transmission consists of eight callsigns, then a 1 minute break, then the
telemetry. If however the GPS is out of lock, the 1 minute break is replaced
with approx 10 minutes break. 

Most likely position at sunrise will be 200 miles EAST of Cape Hatteras.  :-)
Swing your beam(s) around and take a look for it please!

P.S.: The CW is at 10 wpm. In the spirit of SKN,I've been keeping up with it
long-hand, without using any morse decoders. :-)

And now it is time for me to wish you the very best for 2006: 
Happy New Year!

Iain McFadyen    KI4HLV

Yahoo! for Good - Make a difference this year.

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