May Program – ‘Orbiting’ Balloons

Our May meeting, on Thursday May 4, features Alan Adamson, W7QO, the guy who holds the record for the:

  • Longest duration balloon flight (over 200 days)
  • Longest distance  balloon flight (over 500000 km – which is to the moon and about half way back)
  • Most number of circumnavigations – just about to finish 13 and start 14, and still counting
  • Lightest trackable payload
  • Most number of days of consecutive received reports by a non-satellite system

The Topics

  • What started all this Balloon stuff (for me)
  • Overview of the pieces required to join the fun
  • Early flight learnings
  • Current long duration flights
  • How to get involved/started
  • What to expect
  • Records to be attained

The Speaker

– Alan has more than 30 years of Design, Development, Management, and Delivery of High-Tech communication and security products.

– Designed a variety of microcontroller, ARM based solutions including a frequency agile, fully programmable, RF radio/GPS tracking platform, a 3 axis camera stabilization system, a multi-axis, multi-motor, flight controller, and various small projects targeted at the internet of things environment

– Successful management of an RF consulting business, with focus on rooftop management of RF spectrum, communications technologies, public exposure and RF safety training issues.

– Held engineering and product management positions with BellSouth, BellSouth.com, Hayes Communications, and Symantec.

– 30+ year Holder of an Extra Class Amateur Radio license.

His professional career included working and retiring from BellSouth (before it was AT&T).  As a result of his communications background, about 13 years ago he left the world of working for someone else, and started a couple of consulting businesses.

A Different Approach for RF Balloon Flights

Alan chose a different approach by developing his own hardware and software technologies.  He was tired of the lack of flexibility surrounding the AVR, and specifically the Arduino platform.  At this time the ARM was just starting to take shape and the technology curve vs. cost was dropping dramatically.  He switched to the ARM platform then and has never looked back.

He’s designed and developed the following

– an Arduino feature/function/pin compatible STM32F1 and STM32F3 version of what Arduino calls the pro-mini

– a 3 axis gimbal controller for camera stabilization, built on either the STM32F105 or the STM32F405 processor.

– Working for a large West Coast company, he designed and developed the hardware and firmware for a balloon tracking system based upon a satellite modem

– a Silabs Si4463 radio module that can mate to either the Arduino Pro Mini or his ProMini32

The latter is what was used to prove and develop the radio module that he uses on his balloon controller.

W7QO – Atlanta HamFest Speaker – June 3rd, 11:00 AM

 
We are pleased that Alan will also share his balloon experience at the 11:00 AM forum at our June 3rd HamFest in Jim Miller Park. Alan plans to launch a balloon in the afternoon at the HamFest! You can see the record breaking balloon telemetry and follow along its flight using the tracker at this website.

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