This post is super late, but we had a successful launch and payload recovery in Sept 2019! We launched from the grounds of a public school NW of Waterloo, and landed in wine country, SE of Hamilton, a journey of ~120km, it was in the air for almost exactly 2 hours. We reached a maximum altitude of 88,405 ft (26,946m).
Also, thanks to Jen for the last-minute rescue of “oh shit Eric forgot the balloon, we have to turn back and cancel, sorry everyone”. Officially this was the Jen Balloon Launch, she’s the title sponsor :-).
For the first time ever we put ALL of the electronics (radios, cameras, battery, etc) into the payload container and turned it on. Idea was to test installation and startup procedures, and then see how long it lasts on our 5 Ah USB battery. Ideally we get 3+ hours, more is better obviously. In previous tests (with MORE hardware) we got that, but good to check now that we have final hardware inside. Here’s some shots of the payload in foam container:
Test results: our battery life is awesome! We got 6 hours and 2 minutes of uptime. We also learned a lot of things, like needing to adjust the voltage setting below which the GPS cuts out, how to properly shut off the RaPi wifi, and that we probably do have enough insulation (even in the -5C fridge freezer, the temperature of the electronics only dropped to 19C – so at -60C, we’ll probably be a bit below freezing, but that should still be fine). Even the knock-off gopro functioned really well – storage did not fill up as fast as expected since most of the video was dark and/or static, which actually probably means battery life will be even better – we know the camera shuts off once the storage is full, and that should theoretically be around the 3h point (well after landing) based on previous tests.
We packed up our supplies and headed out to Phyllis Rawlinson Park on July 27th to test some of our ideas for how to inflate a balloon, how to measure the lift, how to attach the payload, etc. We learned a LOT and also had a critical failure with our GPS antenna that we’re glad to have done on a test rather than potentially at the real launch, where it would have caused a scrub! We did let several balloons head up (with dummy payloads only), our calculations said that they would pop at ~5000 ft, but that will still higher than we could actually see with the naked eye. Next time let’s bring binoculars! This was so much fun and really has us excited for the actual launch and payload chase.