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RAC-News: Lanark ARES Balloon Launch 2010-11-20

(Via: Norm Rashleigh, VE3LC - RAC VP Industrial Liaison)

The Lanark Amateur Space Agency comprised of members of the Lanark North Leeds ARES Group launched an Amateur High Altitude Balloon from Perth Ontario on 20 November 2010. This launch undertaken by Peter McCracken, VA3ZKS, Rick Szijarto, VA3ZBO, Allan Niittymaa, VA3KAI, Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB and Zach McCracken the son of VA3ZKS was an attempt at the world height record for amateur balloons.

The flight was designated LASA 8 and transmitted as VE3REX-11 via APRS. VHF transmitted flight parameters including location, height, direction and speed were picked up by the extensive network of APRS digipeaters and gated to the internet so that Amateurs could follow the flight in real time. Feed back indicates that the flight had a large following.

Following the launch, chase cars which included VA3ZKS, VA3ZBO, VE3BSB, VE3OAX, VE3ICF and VE3JGL tracked the flight on in car computers equipped with VHF receivers, tncs and the UI View tracking program.

Robert Sharp, VA3QV of Ottawa ARES organized a group of amateurs to provide down range communication support to assist the chase cars with additional tracking and recovery. Thanks to Normand Lalonde, VA3NPL of Prescott-Russell ARES, James Richardson, VE3AFV of Seaway Valley ARES, James Dixon, VE3XID and Robert McKenny, VE3RMJ for their patient monitoring of the down range repeaters and the HF comms frequency.

The tracking transmitter package included a Garmin 18 LVC GPS an Argent Data Surface Mount Open Tracker and a 300 miliwatt MX 146 transmitter. Power was provided by 3 AA batteries outputting 5.4 volts at launch.

VE3REX-11 attained a record setting altitude of 39,899 meters or 130,903 feet before bursting and descending by parachute to land in Jay, Maine. The balloon reached speeds of 256 kilometres per hour and travelled a flight distance of 598 kilometres.

VA3ZKS and VA3ZBO located the flight package during the evening by picking up beacons directly from the flight package which had landed in a tree a few meters from the edge of a river. They returned in the daylight to retrieve the package and return to Perth.

The flight package contained a picture of John Soderberg, W1AKV who had assisted the Vermont recovery of LASA 7 launched 7 Nov 2009. John who was 90 and became a silent key 7 Nov 2010. The picture is being sent as a memoriam to his friend K1XV in Vermont

Many thanks to all Amateurs and Clubs that have shown an interest in this aspect of Amateur Radio and have provided financial support for the flight consumables.

73 Barrie VE3BSB