AREG Next Meeting: 19th Feb – Reviving Packet Radio

As previously mentionedSRLPP9~0 in the blog, one of the AREG members, Grant VK5GR has set about reviving a Packet Radio BBS system in Adelaide!

At the next AREG meeting, Grant will give an overview of the system and how it was built, taking a look at how all of the different modules within the Linux operating system are fitted together to provide a FBB Packet BBS, DXCluster Service and an Internet linked NET/ROM network node which allows you to connect with other similar systems across the globe.

The basics of packet radio and AX.25 will also be discussed and some tips for accessing and using the system from your SN7NW1~Yhouse will also be given including how to use the Packet BBS and also the DX Cluster.

Meeting Time & Place

The club meeting will be held on Friday February 19th at the Reedbeds Community Hall. Enter via Phelps Court, Fulham.

Doors will open at 7.45pm

All are welcome! The presentation will be followed by a short business meeting. Tea and Coffee will be available also, so come on down and meet the members of the Amateur Radio Experimenters Group!

For more information about the packet radio BBS system in Adelaide on 147.575 take a look at the previous article here!


AREG & Project Horus at 2016 Geelong

Tux-simpleMark VK5QI and David VK5DGR attended thehorus-logo-black conference again this year, this time held in Geelong. At the conference Mark gave a presentation on the balloon tracking systems that Project Horus uses. David then gave an introduction to what he is doing with the new binary telemetry system that has been flown experimentally on the last couple of Horus flights.

You can watch Mark’s presentation here!

David’s talk can be viewed here:

AREG Members Camping Weekend

A number of AREG members have decided to go camping in the Coorong this weekend! Look out for them on HF under their various callsigns.

If you want to pay them a visit, you can head south from Adelaide down Highway 1 and turn into the park at Parnka Point, MaGrath Flat.


AREG-Horus SHSSP Balloon Flight – Summary

ISU LogoThe Australia Day launch of the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program high altitude balloon payload under an AREG / Project Horus balloon was a great success! Launched from the Mt Barker High School, in the Adelaide Hills, it was an almost “text book” launch.

AREG Flight Support Preparation

The AREG launch team were on site early in the morning to prepare for the event.  Matt VK5ZM made sure very knot was tied correctly while Mark VK5QI, Scott VK5TST and Ben VK5BB prepared the AREG payloads. Andrew VK5AKH and Gary VK5FGRY helped set up the event “environs” with the marquee and bollards/bunting to guide the crowd that was expected. Grant VK5GR meanwhile recorded the event (and will be making a short launch video soon). The flight used a 1600g latex balloon and was “powered” by Helium. Two AREG payloads flew, being the primary RTTY telemetry on the 434MHz band and the telecommand LoRa package used to control early flight termination if the need arose.

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The AREG crew were joined by the SHSSP participants and event organisers from the University of South Australia and International Space University a little later in the morning.

ISU Students getting involved

Balloon filling operations were supervised by Mark VK5QI who enlisted the help of several of the ISU students to control the balloon as it went through flight preparations.

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ISU Payload Preparation

The ISU payload included multiple SHIRTLOGOsensors and a telemetry transmitter of it’s own. There were three cameras onboard, a video camera looking down and an IR camera looking down and a stills camera looking out. The payload telemetry consisted of a 9600bps VHF data feed that the Uni was testing on the 2m amateur band (for a future Cubesat mission). The controller for their payload was based on a Raspberry Pi. The end result was impressive considering the students had little more than a week from concept to realisation!

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Balloon Launch

The launch was attended by visiting dignitaries from the Mt Barker Council including Mayor Ann Ferguson, various media reporters from several TV and radio networks and by more than 150 members of the public. It was presided over by John Connolly from NASA who is their ISU representative, as well as Associate Professor David Bruce from the University of South Australia.

The launch itself went faultlessly, with the surface winds dropping off at the last second to make it an easy gentle vertical ascent.

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Flight Tracking

habhubloogoA major contribution to the success of the flight was the reception and relaying of tracking data from a large network of amateur radio stations across South Eastern Australia.

To enhance the sense of involvement by the amateur radio community, the AREG operated the main telemetry beacon under the special amateur radio callsign of AX5ARG-1, to mark the occasion of the launch taking place on Australia Day. This captured the imagination of many first time tracking stations. It was great to see over 35 stations, including many first time contributors adding to the successful collection of flight telemetry.

AREG will be offering a special commemorative QSL card to mark this flight to all stations who can show they receive the telemetry. If you managed to upload data to then you automatically qualify. However, if you copied telemetry but didn’t manage to get it into the HabHub system, please send an email with a screen shot or captured telemetry frame to for inclusion in the SWL QSL card logs.

VK5RM-Screen Shot 01-26-16 at 11.36 AM

Screenshot of tracking courtesy AX5RM (relayed from VKLogger Forum)

launch 2Stations who heard the balloon and reported via HabHub:


AREG member Peter, VK5KX also made a major contribution establishing a remote telemetry command post high atop of the eastern rim of the Mt Lofty ranges. From there he was able to not only collect telemetry but also help the ground chase crews with liaison communications. Thanks Peter for your important contribution.

rrc-VK5HS-trackingteam-20160126_114429AREG’s good friends out at the Riverland Radio Club also made an impact not only with tracking but through publicity on ABC Riverland radio as well! Thanks Ivan VK5HS and the team!


Chase and Recovery

Finally, probably the most significant taskballoontrackshssp-2016 considering all that had gone before, was to recover the payloads once they landed. Three tracking teams were out in the field lead by Matt VK5ZM/Grant VK5GR in car 1, Mark VK5QI/Gary VK5FGRY/David VK5DGR in car 2 and a team from ISU in car 3.

The chase was one where best laid plans changed at the last minute. By quirk of fate, the VK5ZM team didn’t actually obtain the wind predictions used to drive the tracking system until after the 1800Z Global Forecast System model was released, which gave us a surprise. Overnight, the jet stream had intensified, which resulted in the balloon traveling ~25km further down-range than planned. This changed our chase route quite substantially at the last minute and instead of targeting Bow Hill, the VK5ZM team headed for Karoonda. Meanwhile the VK5QI team which had departed earlier was already heading for Bow Hill.

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In the end, the two AREG recovery vehicle teams rejoined each other out on the road and were on site before the balloon landed. However, due to local terrain and access restrictions, we did not catch sight of the parachute landing this time. The recovery teams had 3km of rough 4WD tracks and paddocks to negotiate and a further 2 km round trip hike through the thick Mallee using classic radio direction-finding techniques to navigate to the payload and then back to their vehicles.

Flight Statistics

Horus 36 - SH-SSP 2016 Flight Statistics
Metric Result
Flight Designation: Horus 36 – SH-SSP 2016 for ISU
Launch Date: 25/1/2016 23:05:16 UTC
Landing Date: 26/1/2016 01:56:25 UTC
Flight Duration: 2 Hours 53 Minutes
Launch Site: -35.07628 138.85695
Landing Site: -34.84752 139.87366
Distance Traveled: 96.2 km
Maximum Altitude: 36,423 m

Thanks to all involved!

The SHSSP and AREG teams were ecstatic over the success of the event and there was also very good media coverage. Stories were aired on ABC891 radio in Adelaide and on ABC Riverland (thanks to the Riverland Radio Club who were following the event) as well as on NWS9-TV Adelaide and the ABC-TV South Australia news. The SHSSP event organisers were thank-full to the AREG for their contribution to the success of their stratospheric balloon launch project.

Many thanks must also go to all amateur radio operators who tracked and uploaded the telemetry data as well as to the UK High Altitude Society who built, maintain and provide access to the system for tracking balloon flights!

FreeDV Broadcast 31st Jan 2016

sadfaceDue to technical issues this morning the FreeDV broadcast team were unable to take callbacks using FreeDV.

Announcements were made using analog SSB and a few reports were achieved.

Stations wishing to provide a signal report are encouraged to email the AREG with the usual details, email addresses can be found on the “contact us” page.

Thanks and our apologies again for not being able to participate in the callback in DV.

FreeDV Broadcast Team, VK5ARG

SHSSP Balloon Flight a Success! Payload Recovered.

SHIRTLOGOJust a short update to let everyone know that we have successfully recovered the payloads from a scrub landing. Photos, stories and more soon. People in Adelaide should watch the ABC TV news tonight to see the publicity!

Thanks to all of the Amateur Radio operators who helped collect telemetry for the flight too!



HOWTO: High Altitude Balloon Tracking for SHSSP Flight

Tracking Systemshabhubloogo

Project Horus has a long association with the UK High Altitude Society who provide an excellent platform for tracking on monitoring balloon flights through their website. HabHub will again be a major focus for tomorrows flight.

How can you get involved?

The tracking system works most effectively when multiple stations receive the frames and relay them to the Internet. There, they can feed the flight prediction system which can in real time update the predicted landing zone for the balloon! So, to support this project, we are encouraging as many amateurs as possible to make an attempt to listen for and decode the telemetry and upload it to the Internet during the flight.

Tracking System Overview2

Flight Telemetry Details

The telemetry for the flight will be broadcast on 434.450MHz using 100 bps RTTY (7N2) under the AX5ARG-1 callsign. The callsign itself for the telemetry beacon is significant as the AX prefix being used is something that Australian amateur radio operators can only use on Australia Day. The AREG will be publishing a special QSL card to confirm reception of the balloon telemetry. To qualify, you will need to ensure that you have your decoded telemetry frames uploaded to the tracking page.

Information on decoding and uploading balloon telemetry using dl-fldigi can be found on the UKHAS Wiki Pages here or via the AREG Balloon tracking pages here 

The main telemetry payload will also be transmitting an experimental 4-FSK modem signal, developed by David Rowe. These transmissions will occur in between the RTTY packets, and won’t be decoded by dl-fldigi. More information on these experiments can be found on David’s Blog.

Lift off is planned for ~9:30am on Tuesday 26th January! See you on the air!


DL-FLDigi Software decoding a balloon

UPDATE: SHSSP Balloon Launch Countdown Continues!


Preparations are well underway now for the launch of the Stratospheric Balloon flight being conducted as part of the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program for the International Space University.

The participants are already well advanced in constructing their payload and have it on test in readiness for the flight.

SHSSP Payload

SHSSP Payload


Flight track prediction for Tuesday morning!

AREG and the Project Horus team are also working behind the scenes readying the chase teams and looking at the probable landing zones. The good news is that it looks to be (provided the weather holds) a textbook flight, landing in one of the teams preferred touchdown locations.