Watching a balloon launch using HAM radio

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High altitude balloon w HAM radio. K6RPT-12

High altitude balloon with HAM radio. K6RPT-12

The last balloon this group launched ended up in Tunisia!  This one was launched just before 7pm, Pacific Time, on Sunday December 2, 2012.  As I post this blog, it’s already at 36,500′ and moving east from the launch point south of San Jose, California.  The HAM radio gear in the payload is sending telemetry, including altitude, latitude and longitude, direction, speed, and other data relevant to the flight.  You can watch this one by simply returning to this page and hitting ‘refresh’ or ‘reload’ to see the latest picture from my website.  (Or you can watch it directly from my website, KC6YRU.NET)

You can spot the balloon on the map, it’s callsign is K6RPT-12, and it has a red circle around it.

The data is being transmitted from the balloon using a format called APRS, received by relay stations along it’s flight path, rebroadcast by those stations, then fed into the Internet by gateway radio stations.  I get the information from that internet feed, and using a program called UI-View32, display the location on mapping images from Precision Mapping Streets and Traveler.

HAM Radio is so much more than morse code, or grumpy old men sitting around talking about their hernias or their views on politics!  Someday, I’ll write a blog about my live television broadcasts on HAM radio!

UPDATE: My mapping software won’t follow the balloon now that it’s left the US. Watch here.

The Doctor Is IN


I’m such a geek!  And proud of it.

Well, OK. A minor geek, but still a geek nonetheless.

This computer died on me sometime last week.  I’m not really sure when, since I didn’t notice till Friday night.  Normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal to me to have a computer die (I’ve killed quite a few), but this computer is different than most.  It houses not only the Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) that you see,  it’s also a web server for my radio related pages, as well as my personal website.  When it died, those sites went dark.


We can’t have the very important KC6YRU.NET down and unavailable to it’s myriad fans on the interwebs!  That just wouldn’t do at all.    The APRS web server that I run, along with it’s feed to and from the APRS internet servers was also down, leaving me cut off from the rest of the APRS world.  Or would have left me feeling cut off, had I noticed it earlier!  But anyway, I rolled up my sleeves, tossed the patient onto the floor, and proceeded to perform emergency surgery.  Due to an insightful before-surgery diagnosis, and after a careful transplant operation,  the patient survived.  Since the surgery was performed with such skill and ability, there was only a short recovery time, while the computer checked to make sure all it’s blocks and sectors had made it through the operation.  Satisfied that all was well (what did it expect??) it booted right up, and is now happily shoveling electrons around hither and yon, making the interweb thingy that much more a better place to be.

The Doctor is IN.

P.S.  There are a couple of parts left over.  I wonder if that matters?

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