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Launch Announcement

I’ve been invited to launch a balloon at Youlbury Scout Activity Centre in Oxford on 20th October. It will be as part of their JOTA/JOTI event.

JOTA-TI 2013 Poster

JOTA-JOTI 2013 Poster

JOTA (Jamboree on-the-air) is a yearly scout event based around radio communication. It appears they have included the internet now as well, and quite rightly so.

I’m hoping to launch my very first balloon. It will be a ‘Pico’ sized balloon with the VAYU prototype PCB as a payload. I have two weeks to prepare and get VAYU sorted out properly as a payload. This will involve re-programming the callsign so that it no longer says ‘_TEST’. Building a decent GP (Ground Plane) Antenna, placing it in an enclosure and planning the lines to suspend it from the balloon. Because VAYU is very small, I’m not planning on using a parachute. The chances are it will come down relatively slowly anyway. However, I still want to ensure that it doesn’t damage anything upon landing. To this end, I have found some hollow polystyrene spheres sold in a craft shop (Hobbycraft here in the UK). There’s plenty of room for the PCB and batteries. I will pack the excess space with stuffed toy cotton to prevent the parts from moving around in flight.

I’m hoping to have someone along to take care of communication with the scouts and HAB community and also document the day in photographs. I am going to try and have an online stream to show the launch live if possible. I’ll be testing that in the next few days.

I have also asked the general HAB community if there’s anyone available on the same day to launch a full size latex balloon from the same location. The one big issue with this is, unlike my small Pico launch, the large ones need CAA clearance and there may not be enough time to secure it.

Steve Smith

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