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Flight #9 - 2004a

The first flight of the 2004 season is to be used to continue testing our cutdown device and our light-weight package configuration.

Flight Parameters
Launch Date/Time Saturday, 21 February 2004 at 8:00am
Alternative Date Saturday, 28 February 2004 at 8:00am
Launch Site East fairgrounds parking lot near Fairgrounds Pool   (38° 04.6'N,  97° 54.9'W) in Hutchinson, KS
Primary Transmitter / Antenna VX-1R HT running APRS on 144.39MHz / Vertically polarized dipole
Backup Transmitter / Antenna Keyed oscillator on 147.55MHz (no modulation) / Horizontally polarized dipole
Balloon / Gas Kaysam 600gram / 110 cu feet of Helium
Estimated Burst Altitude 102,000' MSL
Estimated Ascent Rate 950' per minute
Estimated Descent Rate Approx. 1100' per minute at touchdown
Capsule(s) weight 3lb 0oz (1360g) including parachute, rigging, batteries, etc...
Chase Frequencies 146.52MHz, 7.2535MHz
Cameras/Film Canon Elph LT APS camera with 25 exposures of ISO400 speed film.
Balloon Finder Telemetry Mode PT Mode 2


Flight Results

A beautiful February morning with highs in the 50's by the time we got out to recover the capsule. Overall the flight was good, but we had some issues with the tug configuration and the cutdown device.

Flight Statistics
Launch Date/Time Saturday, 21 February at 8:42am
Launch Site East fairgrounds parking lot near Fairgrounds Pool   (38º 04.6'N,  97º 54.9'W) in Hutchinson, KS
Burst Altitude About 83,979ft (25,597m) MSL
Average Ascent Rate 825ft/min (4.19m/s)
Measured Descent Rate 1154ft/min (5.86m/s)
Touchdown Site 2 miles east of Madison, KS (38º 08.2516'N, 96º 04.1458'W)
Touchdown Time Saturday, 21 February, 2004 at 11:00am
Recovery Time Saturday 21 February, 2004 at 11:22am
Distance Traveled 101 miles (162km) as the crow flies
Total Flight Time 2 hours 18 minutes
Downloads Lat/Lon File, Log File, Flight Analysis



Lessons Learned

  • The cutdown device somehow became active as soon as the unit was armed. We're not totally sure how this happened - there were no indications that the main controller board activated cutdown mistakenly. It is possible that the cutdown was left in an active state following some testing the night before.
  • It can be difficult to determine that the cutdown is active (when arming) until it's too late. We will be including a piezo across the cutdown coil for audible confirmation that it is not cutting.
  • We still had some sun glare around the camera. We had a single shade over the top of the camera, but apparently need a hood the totally encloses the camera.
  • The dual balloon configuration did not perform as expected. This may have been partially due to insufficient lift in the "tug" balloon. During liftoff, it appeared that the main balloon almost appeared to be dragging the tug behind it. If the tug configuration is to be used in the future, the tug should have nearly as much lift as the main balloon to keep the lines taunt.
  • There was no perceivable change in ascent rate when the tug burst (i.e. we can't tell when exactly it burst). This again was probably due to insuffient lift from the tug.
  • We are beginning to see more and more activity on the standard 144.39MHz frequency. We will probably need to switch to an alternate frequency of 144.34 in the near future.