[aprssig] Balloon Found (and OOps!)

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Sat May 3 14:50:17 CDT 2014

Crowded Air space today over PA!

Saturday morning, launched the Naval Academy Balloon (W3ADO-11) from
Harpers FY and noticed two other balloons launched about the same time
(W3EAX-9 and 11) about 40 miles north.  All was going fine until...

Our sincere apologies to MD, VA, PA, DE and NJ!  At about 3000' our balloon
Arduino processor got stuck in a reset-loop and switched from 1 minute rate
to one packet as fast as it could re-boot.  Less than every 2 seconds!
Fortunately they were direct only and at 100 millliwatts.

Fortunately, we could still see some packets from the W3EAX balloons, and
APRS.FI seems to have copied them all.

Then ours went nuts! and appears to have come down very fast, and we raced
to towards the impact point (20 miles away), but then 20m later, we got one
packet at 38,000 feet 20 miles farther east.  Then another race though
Amish country and to our horror, the last position report was within 0.1
mile of the river and still at 2000 feet and heading right out to the

We were about to give up the search (no more packets heard and river
current pretty swift) when our back up system (SPOT system?) gave another
report about 60 feet from the water.  Low an behold, there it was, 60 feet
from waters edge after having flown almost 100 miles.

Everything intact includeing HDTV video camera!

Apparently the students used a non-high-altitide GPS and it went squirrely
until it got back below 38,000 feet.  But you should see the track

Bob, Wb4APR
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