Live High Altitude Balloon Launch

[Terry] is planning to launch his high altitude balloon within the next few days. As we’ve seen before he has gone for a general setup – GPS tracking, environment sensors including temperature and humidity and pressure, and 2 on board cameras – all with an expected height of about 100,000 feet. What makes this project unique is the transmission of live telemetry data to a Google Maps or Google Earth interface.

The planned launch date is Sunday the 24th about 00:00 UTC so long as the Civil Aviation Safety Approval for the launch is passed.

As a final note [Terry] wanted to let inspiring balloon launchers to check out the UK High Altitude Society – who have been an invaluable source of information.

22 thoughts on “Live High Altitude Balloon Launch

  1. This has been done before… Next steps:

    * Launch a balloon carrying a solar-powered micro-UAV with radio beacon+telemetry or better-yet include a beacon plus a VHF/UHF cross-band repeater so people can communicate over the UAV while at the same time the UAV can receive commands for steering and power management.

    * Release the solar-powered micro-UAV at high altitude (lots of sun, no clouds). It flies indefinitely. Ham radio operators World-wide track and report via Google Maps, or something similar.

    * Base the whole project on global warming research so you get lots of Government and NGO funding.

    * Fudge/falsify the encrypted data received to support the man-made global warming hypothesis, thereby ensuring continued funding.

    * Covet the raw data so nobody can scrutinize it.

  2. @Drone: ‘Fudging’ and ‘falsifying’ your data are both VERY good ways to get yourself BANNED from ever receiving funding by a government agency. This also makes it doubly difficult for others who are trying to legitimately get funding.

    The experiment is a good idea, however you’ll find what you find whether you like it or not.

    Now be a good scientist or go away..

  3. @drone why would you even propose that scenario? there is enough thievery and lying going on as it is without someone adding to it. it would also give a bruise to anyone trying to do legitimate work and or just trying to have fun. so, dont be a party pooper and keep your negativity hidden from the rest of us. thank you.

  4. I am with you Drone. Science and politics are in bed together.

    If he privately debunks any popular theory he runs the risk of being audited by the IRSS. Best to go along with the prevailing wind, so to speak, and score some of that ‘inconvenient’ stash.

  5. Have these folks provided their complete schematics and code? I saw sample code, but nothing complete, and no schematics. I’m looking to implement a low-level altimeter with the MPX4115A and I’d like to crib from someone else’s implementation. :-)

  6. @kevin / @Medix:
    Obviously you’ve never read a sarcastic posting before. Relax, @drone is not “proposing” anything, and he’s not criticizing Terry’s experiment. This is just humor.

    This is not the place for political crap. Octel! Read this man his rights!

  7. @Moreau: I realize that it may have been sarcasm, but the fact remains that there are plenty of people who do this on a regular basis and really DO make it hell for the rest of us.

    Forgive me if I’m even the slightest bit erked at the thought of people even thinking this would be funny. Perhaps the /sarcasm tag is due.. ;)

  8. Terry has done a great job documenting his project, but I don’t think there’s anything unique here.

    It’s always fun to launch a balloon, but hams have been doing this for many years and the data is generally available real-time on the internet via APRS sites like and, which both use Google Maps.

    @drone: The high-altitude repeater is a somewhat normal process too. I remember standing at an airfield outside Dallas ten years ago with a handheld and working stations in New Mexico and Kansas through a balloon put up by the North Texas Balloon Project. I was in high school at the time, but it was one of many experiences in ham radio that eventually led me into electrical engineering.

  9. I do very similar balloon launches for my job at NOAA. I’m pretty curious about the transmitter module he used, and if it’s capable of data transmission over a full 0-30km balloon flight (which can travel across an entire state on windy days). This package’s setup, using an AVR with PTU sensors and a transmitter, seems pretty intuitive and useful. I noticed pictures of a Vaisala RS-92 radiosonde as well. These are awesome but the ground receiving system is incredibly expensive.

  10. Hi Allen,
    The TX module I am using is a 25mw module from Radiometrix – the NTX2. I’m using this particular module because I can use it license exempt, as a LIPD (low interference potential device).

    When used with conventional low/high logic signals in NBFM mode, it’s range is somewhat of a limiting factor – but when used with a varying input voltage resulting in a varying output tone, coupled with a narrow SSB filter on the receiver, the range is excellent (so long as line of sight is maintained – not hard with the balloon in the sky).

    The UKHAS use the same modules, with the only difference being the transmit power – they’re only able to use 10mW. In a recent launch, they exceeded 400km of range with this setup, and were able to track a balloon they launched which landed in France!

    As for the Vaisala sondes, these were recovered from sounding balloons launched by our met bureau. The ground setup is prohibitively expensive, but you can decode their data with software like Sondemonitor (

  11. Hi,

    Nice project. I’ve been working on one myself, but have been a bit hung up on CASA regs…

    As far as I can see, the regs don’t permit this to be classified as a ‘light’ balloon — and the requirements around ‘medium’ are too onerous to mention…

    To be clear, ‘light balloon’ classification is as follows:

    light balloon means a free balloon that:
    (a) is no more than 2 metres in diameter at any time during its flight;
    (b) can carry no more than 4 kilograms of payload

    This sort of project fails (a) soooo… not ‘light’. How did you get around that?


  12. Hi MrWolf,
    Would love to hear about your project. Where are you based?

    CASA seems to handle these launches on a case by case basis, there are a few issues to consider. Shoot me an email via the blog and I’ll explain :)

  13. Terry, thanks for the information. I may have to try out this Radiometrix module and see where it leads. And that Sondemonitor program is a really great find. I had no idea somebody reverse-engineered those protocols and made such a nice little program. I attempted something similar with the RS-80 sondes a while back but didn’t get nearly as far. We used to fly an external Garmin GPS with ozonesondes and RS-80 radiosondes. I managed to decode the GPS lat/lon/alt, but the radiosonde PTU eluded me. Nowadays we use the Intermet iMet-1-RSB sondes, which have an open standard for both internal fields and sending external instrument data.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.