On the MC quad, at about 7:20 a.m. on Monday Sept. 12, MC’s Amateur Radio Club launched a “pico-payload” balloon. The balloon, designed by Bill Brown (WB8ELK), is a 12.2 gram solar powered payload capable of transmitting 20 milliwatts on a two-meter dipole antenna soldered to a .4 millimeter board. The club predicts that the balloon will travel for four to five days.
“Originally, [the balloon] was supposed to go into Europe by the end of the week,” club president Owen Cruise said. “We’re still hoping that will happen although the winds have certainly changed. Bill has done an updated prediction this morning and it looks as of right now as though it might fall a little bit short of Europe, but it still looks like it will keep going for several more days and hopefully through the weekend.”
The club has no intention on retrieving the payload.
“That’s the whole point of these things,” Cruise said. “We consider them to be expendable. Bill sells them for a reasonable price and the balloons are only three dollars. The hydrogen we have plenty of, so one whole launch of these is roughly $200-$250 at the most […] We don’t intend on getting it back.”
Sundevils can track the travel path and current location of the payload by going on the APRS website.
“It has GPS chips on it so that way it can transmit APRS data, so when you go on the APRS website, you’re seeing our transmission picked up by stations all across the United States,” Cruise said.