The last year has been a quiet one for Project Horus. Getting the team together for a launch has been difficult, as we've all been busy with other commitments. However, things have still been ticking along behind the scenes...
In June we worked with UniSA Connect to run a balloon launch workshop with students from regional South Australia. At the main launch in Burra we had about 30 students in attendance. You can find a short writeup of the launch here.
More recently we've been working with LaunchBox, to launch a number of experiments for schools around the state. Last weekend (13th of September), we launched a Pico payload as a systems test, and also to give the LaunchBox crew an idea of how Project Horus runs a launch.
The main LaunchBox launch will be happening this coming weekend (20th of September), assuming the weather predictions are suitable. Two balloons will be launched, with expected burst altitudes around 30-35km. More details will be provided shortly.
We're still working on writing up many of our previous launches. As we've effectively lost count of how many launches we've done, all future launches will just be referred to with a date (i.e. Horus 2014-09-20) to avoid confusion.
Mark Jessop VK5QI
Andrew wrote in to let us know that there will be a launch taking place in Bendigo this weekend (Saturday the 6th of July):
FYI, our project team is planning to release a high altitude balloon from Bendigo this coming Saturday 6th July 2013 at 11am.
We will have an onboard camera sending images back via SSDV (http://ukhas.org.uk/guides:ssdv), which is basically broken up JPEG with some extra headers.
RTTY will be used for radio transmission.
We do not expect to recover the balloon, and will appreciate any assistance with getting data from the payload along the path, in Victoria, Southern NSW, ACT, and Tas. See attached expected path.
All you need is a radio capable of receiving SSB at 434.650MHz, and a Mac/Windows/Linux computer with sound card input and access to the internet. High gain antenna is highly desirable.
See instructions here: http://projectspaceballoon.net/ssd/
The other details are:
- Frequency 434.650Mhz (+-10Khz), USB
- RTTY with 460Hz shift, 300 baud, 8 bit ASCII, no parity, one stop bit.
- Hardware is a Rev A Raspberry Pi, with a 25mW UHF transmitter module.
- Antenna is a quarter-wave with radials.
- Expected "cruising" altitude is 20km.
You will be able to see the images on your computer if you can receive the RF signal directly.
If internet access is available the images can be uploaded to the internet for others to view.
The call sign for tracking and SSDV is PSBPI.
We plan to have someone in #highaltitude chatroom on irc.freenode.net on the day to co-ordinate.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Write-ups for launches 24 through to 28 are now available.
Quite a few launches are planned for the next few months, so stay tuned!
We're happy to report that both launches this weekend (Horus 26 & 27) were a success.
Many thanks to everybody who turned out at the WIA AGM to hear our talk and witness the launches, and an extra thanks to everybody who helped make this weekend possible.
Keep an eye on the blog over the coming days for full details of the launches including photos & videos of the day.
Tomorrow the 27th of May we will be launching two balloons from Mildura, Victoria.
Data from the telemetry payloads can be demodulated using the dl-fldigi software, available by clicking the tracking link above.
All those wishing to track should take note of the following frequencies:
Horus 26 - WIA Repeater Launch - 0800 AEST
- Telemetry: 434.075MHz USB 300baud RTTY 7N1 (Select "HORUS" from dl-fldigi's dropdown list.
- APRS: 145.175MHz AFSK using callsign VK5ARG-11
- Cross-band Repeater:
- Uplink 438.900MHz FM 123Hz CTCSS. Please use the CTCSS tone, or else you will only be causing interference to other repeater users.
- Downlink: 147.500MHz FM.
The repeater will have net control run by VK3WIA.
Horus 27 - Imaging Payload - 0900 AEST
- Telemetry: 434.650MHz USB 300baud RTTY 7N1 (Select "DARKSIDE" from list)
- APRS: 145.175MHz AFSK using callsign VK5ARG-12
Between-car comms frequencies
We will primarily be using the airborne repeater for comms, and as such, the following callsigns should be given priority on the repeater:
For close range comms we will be using 146.550MHz FM simplex.
Long-range HF comms frequencies are 3640KHz LSB and 7070KHz LSB.
Several months ago, the Project Horus group was invited to participate in the Wireless Institute of Australia's Annual General Meeting and Technical Symposium presentations, being held in Mildura, Victoria over the weekend of Friday May 25th to Sunday May 27th. The group happily accepted, and is now in the final stages of preparation for what will be a very busy weekend for us.
Firstly, the Project Horus group will be giving a technical presentation on Saturday afternoon as part of the AGM technical sessions. During our 40 minute presentation we will be giving an introduction to the project and highlighting some of the amateur radio aspects of the project's operations. You can find out more about the Technical Symposium and other AGM activities on the WIA's website: https://www.wia.org.au/joinwia/wia/2012agm/
The main event for us, however, begins on Sunday with the launch campaign planned from Mildura.
Flight #1 - HORUS 26 - Amateur Radio Repeater - Sunday May 27th
The first balloon that will be launched at the convention is going to carry aloft the flying cross-band FM voice repeater. This repeater will be accessible at apogee from nearly 2,000,000 sq km of SE Australia and is expected to cover Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide simultaneously.
Horus 26 should lift off at approximately 8am AEST Sunday May 27th. (2200 UTC May 26th).
The window for contacts covering that footprint will only be ~30-60 minutes at apogee which should be reached at approximately the 90-120 minute mark in the flight. In all, 2,000,000 sqkm of SE Australia will be able to see the balloon repeater as the footprint will extend to approximately a 1600km diameter.
The FM cross band voice repeater frequencies on the balloon for this flight are:
- 438.900 MHz Uplink with 123Hz CTCSS (FM)
- 147.500 MHz Downlink (FM)
Net control will be a joint effort between our usual net controller in Adelaide (VK5GH) and a local net control operator based out of Mildura (to cover the flight until it can be heard in Adelaide). Contacts will be logged and QSL cards will be provided for all contacts via the HORUS balloon repeater.
Horus 26 Telemetry Sources
In addition to the voice repeater, amateurs will be able to follow the flight via the APRS network on 145.175MHz. VK5ARG-11 will be beaconing the balloons position throughout the flight via a “WIDE2-1” beacon path. This will enable it to be picked up by iGATE systems across SE Australia and then be relayed to the Internet. Amateurs will be able to watch the balloons progress via popular APRS sites such as http://www.aprs.fi/
To provide the ground crews with some systems redundancy, the standard RTTY 300 baud telemetry payload will also be flying. This beacon can be received and decoded with the DL-FLDIGI software. You can find out more about how to decode this beacon here: http://projecthorus.org/?page_id=336
This 300baud RTTY telemetry beacon will fly on 434.075MHz ± 5kHz USB (the beacon drifts as the payload gets cold – it can reach below -50dec C during the flight in the payloads). This flight will identify on the air as HORUS.
The project group is very keen for amateurs within the footprint to also attempt to receive this beacon, as the data collected is (when you enable the Internet option in the software) also uploaded to the http://spacenear.us/tracker/ website. There it is aggregated and used to help predict the landing zone of the balloon during flight. As such, it is a valuable resource for the chase teams, and is a great way for the amateur radio community to get involved in the engineering side of the flight.
Flight #2 – HORUS 27 – Imaging Payload
The Project Horus group has carried a number of imaging payloads aloft over its more than 2 year history. We have had one of these payloads waiting for the right weather conditions for some time now. The legendary sunny weather of Mildura and reduced risks of landing in the ocean has given the team the inspiration to attempt to fly this imaging payload as well this weekend. As a result, Horus 27 is also planned to fly THIS SUNDAY.
Horus 27 will also carry an APRS and RTTY telemetry system.
APRS will operate as VK5ARG-12 on 145.175MHz operating in the same way as VK5ARG-11.
The 300 Baud RTTY will operate on 434.650 MHz ± 5kHz USB. HORUS 27’s RTTY telemetry will identify as DARKSIDE to separate the telemetry streams when they are uploaded to http://spacenear.us/tracker/ .
The Horus 27 flight is currently planned to lift off at ~0900Hrs Sunday 27th May (2300 UTC May 26th).
Amateurs are invited to also track HORUS 27 and provide their received telemetry feed via the Internet to the SpaceNear website. The project team would really appreciate seeing telemetry from both balloons (which will both be in the air simultaneously) being captured by amateurs from around SE Australia as it all helps capture as much data as possible about the progress of the flight.
For confirmation of launch of each balloon, the team will post announcements to the VKLOGGER DX Cluster as well as progress updates via Twitter (look for hash tag #projecthorus).
We look forward to seeing amateurs from across the region get involved in tracking and communicating via this unique experimental system!
The Project Horus Balloon Team
Grant has put together a couple of great videos on the last 2 launches - be sure to check out all his work on his Project Horus Vimeo channel.
A big thanks to all who helped make Horus 23 such a success!
This weekend, on Sunday the 15th of April, Project Horus will be partaking in the WIA National Field Day by launching Horus 23. We hope to be launching around 11AM, right after the WIA Sunday morning broadcast. This launch will be flying 3 payloads of interest to amateur radio operators:
- A FM voice repeater. This repeater will be operating with a 70cm uplink and a 2m downlink. Experience from flying this repeater in the past has shown that it can be accessed from up to 800km away at apogee with about 30-50W. Operators closer to the launch site should be able to access the repeater using a simple handheld, though a beam will help overcome the FM capture effect. The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group (AREG) will be running net control on the voice repeater as VK5ARG, from the launch site in the Adelaide Hills.
- APRS on 145.175MHz. We're expecting to be using VK5ARG-11 as the call-sign. This will be visible on aprs.fi and will showcase their new horizon ring service. We will also be broadcasting telemetry via APRS.
- The ever-reliable 300-baud RTTY downlink will also be flying. This will likely be operating on 434.075MHZ (+-5KHz due to thermal drift). Instructions on how to track this can, as always, be found here. This payload will be trackable on the SpaceNear.us tracker.
This flight will also be testing the new uplink & cutdown system. This is a new design allowing us to terminate flights in the case of floats, or other un-foreseen circumstances. This experiment is intended to give us an idea of RF noise floor levels while at high altitudes, and work out what power levels are required for a successful uplink. The status of the uplink system should be visible on the SpaceNear.us tracker during the flight.
As always, launch is very much subject to weather, and final confirmation of the launch won't be given until Sunday morning. We will continue to update this blog as new information becomes available.
UPDATE: The cross-band voice repeater will be running with a 144.650MHz downlink, a 438.9MHz uplink, with a 123Hz CTCSS access tone.
From the video description:
Australian band Skipping Girl Vinegar sent a hobo monkey (Baker) to the edge of space, in a low rent spaceship made from foam and gaffa tape. On the morning of Sat 27th Nov 2011, attached to a giant weather balloon, Baker and the onboard camera soared to 110,000 feet (4 times higher than Mt Everest) capturing the rolling image that is now part of this new film clip. Reaching speeds of over 200kmh and experiencing temperatures as low as -50 degrees Baker carried an Mp3 player beaming out the new SGV single 'Chase the Sun' and messages to the Universe from the people of Earth.
No 'Hobo Monkeys' were harmed during the making of this clip.