Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio

(Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio)
A view from near space and SABLE-3 at 117,597 feet, August 11th - 2007

Near space is within the Stratosphere and Ozone layers, from 75,000 feet to the beginning of space at 62.5 miles. The earth's curvature and thin blue layer of atmosphere hugging the earth can easily be seen from here and at 117,000 ft. the horizon is at 460 miles, rather then only 2-3 miles when standing at ground level. The air pressure is <1 -60="" -90="" always="" and="" are="" at="" atmosphere="" black="" blue="" bright="" but="" cold="" cosmic="" degrees="" fahrenheit.="" filtering="" inky="" is="" level="" light="" little="" next="" no="" not="" of="" or="" p="" rays="" s="" scattered="" sea="" sky="" so="" stars="" sun="" sunny="" that="" the="" there="" to="" ultraviolet="" very="" visible="" weather="" with="">
A few friends and myself decided to start launching high altitude balloons with experimental amateur radio payloads which we nicknamed BEAR (Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio) after watching others do this and seeing no reason why they should have all the fun. We are not a club or official group, but simply a few individual amateur radio operators with similar interests, a common goal and hope that our BEAR projects, which anyone is welcome to participate in, will help promote education, experimentation and camaraderie between all amateurs and amateur radio clubs in the area.

An APRS tracker is essential to track and recover balloon payloads and our first flight, BEAR-1, was to confirm the GPS receiver chosen for our tracker would work above the 60,000 ft. ITAR altitude limit. BEAR-2 included a cross-band repeater and future flights are planned with cameras and other equipment.

August 2009 - It's been 9 years since BEAR-2 and some have asked if the BEAR group is still active. It is, but it's not an official group and simply myself that enjoys building payload packages, a few others that enjoy helping launch, track and recover them and a number more that enjoy simply watching. So progress is slow with myself being the only one building everything, especially with all the other projects and things I'm involved with. The slow progress has been good however. Digital cameras were something new and much too expensive to risk using in 2000, but they've become inexpensive and capable of much higher quality images now. And video cameras used to be much too large and heavy, besides being too expensive to risk and had too short of recording time, but they have also become small, light weight, inexpensive and have much longer recording times and now it's even possible to transmit and see real time video from high altitude balloon flights.

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