Cheapo3 flight – 14/06/2013

Last week I launched a test flight of the new cheapo boards to test how they performed against the old ones. Sadly the results were disappointing with a very weak RF output.

We aimed for a low ascent rate (1.2m/s, which we came very close to!) and released it out to sea.
After the balloon had traveled a couple of miles I noticed the signal was much weaker than anticipated, after eventually losing the signal altogether after about 25 miles.
Luckilly G8KNN (Cambridge), jijdaar(NL) and a few others jumped in to save the day, and managed to track the thing all the way up, and most of the way down (to about 5km).

Sadly the payload did not make it into Europe, however I am glad to have had the chance to test the new boards before relying on them for a much more expensive flight.

UPDATE: On the 30th June 2013 I had a phone call from a woman on the island of Borkum (Germany) who said she had found the (badly damaged) payload in the sea!

I would have loved to have seen some photos of the payload, but unfortunately she did no have access to the internet. After spending about 15 days in the north sea I expect the tracker would have been damaged beyond repair, so I said not to worry about sending it back.

You can see in the (badly edited) image below quite how far the payload drifted from its tracked landing location.


I believe the problem was down to the antenna being made from cheap single core telephone cable (which I thought would be extremely similar to cat5, which works well). I will launch another board in the next few weeks with either a cat5 or a coax antenna and see if there is an improvement. In hope to be able to source a small step up regulator board to allow future flights to run from just one lithium AA cell


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