Amateur Radio High Altitude Balloon Sets Record

This is one of the coolest stories for the year I think. Ron Meadows, K6RPT and his son, Lee, launched a high altitude balloon along with the group they lead, the California NEAR Project, on December 11th. The balloon was caught in the jet stream at an altitude between 105,000 and 115,000 feet.

Picture of California Near Space Project's Twitter Feed

Picture of California Near Space Project's Twitter Feed

From there, the balloon was carried east at a speed of about 150 miles an hour and traveled across the United States, all along the way transmitting it’s APRS beacon of K6RPT-11. It then continued to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain into the Mediterranean Sea. The balloon had traveled 6236 great circle miles in just 57 hours.

From the Southgate ARC website:

The balloon, which bore the call sign K6RPT-11 and could be tracked via APRS, traveled through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. “When the balloon left the New Jersey shore behind, it was received by coastal stations as far away as Nova Scotia,” explained CNSP Team Member Don Ferguson, KD6IRE. “When it exceeded the range of these stations, we lost track of it and feared that we would not hear from the balloon again.”

The balloon finally came down December 14th, when it burst off the coast of Algeria.

This is a pretty exciting event and sure to peak the interests of people and perhaps inspire some to try High Altitude Ballooning themselves. This flight for the California Near Space Project was by far a huge success and I can’t wait to read more about their future flights.

For more details on this story, head over to the article on the Southgate ARC website and visit the California Near Space Project website.

Christmas Gifts for The Ham Radio Operator

One year, the YL asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her, anything Ham Radio related would be a great gift for me. After about 30 seconds of awkward staring at each other, she asked where she could find those kinds of things, as she isn’t a Ham Radio op. I promptly pointed her to the ARRL website, but I also found another option for this year!


Photo Courtesy of TechNote Time

So I did a fast Google search and sure enough, the search algorithm,  came through again with the website TechNote Time. They do have some unique gifts for Ham Radio operators and the prices do seem reasonable. The one that stood out to me was the On Air sign in neon blue. When I do get my “man cave” and have my shack all setup, this sign will have a nice place in it.

The Christmas ornaments are a nice touch for the Ham Radio family tree. They are made of porcelain and come in a few different designs. There’s also decals, novelty signs warning you of electrical shock or RF radiation, and more. So some nice gifts to be had. The trick is, dropping the subtle hints to the shopper who is looking.

They also have gifts not related to Ham Radio, but some could still fit the bill. They even offer gift certificates, if you’re not sure what to get. So there are a bunch of options available.  If you’ve already completed your shopping, they well done! If not, you still have a little time to left to get something unique and nice for the Ham Radio op on your list.

73. Media Hit on 700K Amatuers in the US

While doing my usual trolling of the internet, I found a quick little media hit from a Fresno, CA, Fox news station, on the number of licensed Hams in the US. I figured I would share this one.

1200+ Mile Contact on 10 Meter Handheld

As Hams, we know the phrase “A little goes a long way” is very true in Ham Radio. Anyone working QRP can tell you that. There are people that have worked the other side of the planet with just a few watts. I worked Japan once with 5 watts with Grayline. But check out this video of 1200+ mile contact on a handheld.I didn’t even know they made 10 meter handhelds. But we can see one here in the video. As well as making that contact with just 5 watts of power. Not too shabby at all. I say keep this video handy for recruitment. This shows how radio can work.


A Ham’s Night Before Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly and give of yourself to your fellow man. Though I think that should be all year long, but still, around this time of year, it’s nice to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the time. This year I am feeling especially festive, simply because I am with my family. I know, I’m easy to please. But one of the other things I like this time of year is of course the entertainment. It’s a tradition for me to watch Miracle on 34th Street every year during the holidays. And this one may be a tradition I do every year. Post (or repost from this point on..) “A Ham’s Night Before Christmas”. The video is done by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ, with guitar melody by Don Mercz, WA3AYR. So sit back with your coffee or hot chocolate, grab a candy cane or a sugar cookie, and enjoy!

How To Use An Antenna Tuner

It’s always good to review the basics now and again. I know I could use some brushing upon a few things from time to time. Tyler, N7TFP, has made a video on how to tune an antenna. If your building your first station or studying for your exam, then this video is something I suggest you watch. Even if you’re a seasoned “Pro from Dover”, it’s good to watch. So here’s Tyler…


Last Chance for ARISSat-1 is coming up!

Did you know that you’re running out of time if you’ve been planning on working ARISSat-1? Why do you ask? Well, it’s estimated to be re-entering in January or February 2012. So now is the time to use the on board repeater or get an SSTV pic.

An image from the ARISSat-1 SSTV

Photo Courtesy of AMSAT

The satellite was deployed back in August and since then has lost about 60km of altitude, and is estimated to be losing 1.5km per day. This is due to increased drag on the craft from increased solar activity on the atmosphere. From Southgate ARC:

The orbit period changes about 30 seconds per day, and that will increase steadily. Be certain to update your tracking program Keps from Space-Track or CelesTrak before each pass. They issue revised versions 3-5 times daily.

That’s a lot of revisions, so make sure to stay on top of them if you want to work it. Plus any telemetry data the engineers can get from the satellite will help in future flights. If you want more information on ARISSat-1 feel free to check the related stories below or you can check out these stories done here for more info.


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  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor