Project Horus Pico Launch – 2nd January

PicoHorus PayloadsThis Saturday (2nd Jan 2016) at around 11AM, Mark VK5QI and David Rowe VK5DGR will be launching a “Pico” (sub-50g) balloon payload, with the aim of testing a new Binary FSK telemetry mode. This is intended to be the next evolution of the Project Horus 70cm RTTY down-link and should result in more reliable telemetry, but without the slow update-rate penalty of data modes like Olivia or JT65

The binary telemetry modem is still under development, and the de-modulator currently only exists as a collection of Octave and Python scripts. However, the payload will still be transmitting the ‘classic’ RTTY telemetry on 434.650MHz, along with binary telemetry on the same frequency. A guide to tracking using dl-fldigi is available here.

The launch is intended to have a very slow ascent rate (~1m/s), with the intent of causing the balloon to float at around 15-20km altitude. However, the balloon is of fairly old stock and may burst early. If a float does occur, the flight path should track towards Victoria.

As always, listeners are much appreciated, especially as we won’t be chasing this flight. The flight will be trackable on the day at:

73s, Mark VK5QI

Project Horus News: HorusLoRA test flight success

Mark VK5QI in conjunction with David VK5DGR undertook the Horus telemetry test flight today and were met with roaring success. Here is a short photo blog of the day’s events.

100g Totex Ceiling balloon, approx 500g of neck lift.




Cutdown payload just below the balloon (cutdown capsule just above the cutdown payload, though it’s not really visible in this picture). Below that is the parachute, and far below that is the RTTY payload.

Tracking from Pt Lincoln!


Joel Stanley (VK5FJMS) was tracking from Winters Hill in Pt Lincoln, and was able to ‘ping’ the payload using a fairly modest antenna setup.

Horus Messenger!


Screenshot of the ‘Horus Messenger’ software in operation. This allows us to transmit text messages from the LoRa ‘ground stations’, which are then digi-peated by the balloon payload. You can see a brief chat between myself and Joel.

Cutdown time!


Do I really really want to cutdown? Yes, yes I do!

Landing Site Map


(With us heading back to a road that gets us closer to the landing site)

Landing Site


Lots of gum trees. The landowners (Alex and a nice lady who’s name I can’t remember) were very nice retired couple, who assisted us in getting to the landing site through a number of sheep-filled paddocks.

Quad-Bike Assist


One of the landowners driving down to open some gates and disable some electric fences for us.

David (VK5DGR) DFing


David Rowe doing some direction finding on the RTTY payload. Also sheep.



The payloads were found hanging from a gum-tree, about 2m above ground level.

Project Horus Launches Planned: 29th Dec & 2nd Jan

IMG_1204Mark VK5QI is planning to launch a couple of ‘medium’ altitude balloons this week as test flights of a new LoRa based flight termination controller. The first is tomorrow Tuesday (29th), and one possibly on Saturday (2nd Jan). Both will be launched from the Mt Barker High School Oval, and will only have a maximum altitude of 15km or so.

Testing new Command Systems

The primary aims for these launches are:

  • Test the LoRa RF link.
  • Test some new uplink & message-digi-peating features of the payload.
  • Test a new cut-down mechanism (something with a little more ‘bang’ than before.

LoRa payloads have flown on the last few Horus launches, as a lead up to the retirement of the current ‘Osiris’ cutdown payload, which uses a now-obsolete FSK modem-on-a-chip. The new LoRa payloads have the potential to provide a more reliable uplink using far less power. The downside is that specialised receiver hardware is required (well, as specialised as a module you can buy on eBay for $10 is) . As such, it’ll only be used on the cutdown payload, where the only people really interested in it are those of us in the chase cars who are trying to recover all the shiny cameras hanging beneath the balloon!

Where to Listen?

Both launches will be at 10:30AM CDT, and will have the following payloads attached:

  • RTTY Telemetry: 434.450MHz, 100 baud 7N2 (Use dl-fldigi to decode this as usual)
  • LoRa Payload: 431.650MHz, 125KHz bandwidth, 4/8 Coding Rate, SF10

As always, trackers are appreciated. The flights will be able to monitored via

HorusLora Track Prediction

VK5VF beacons off air! – Restored

UPDATE 17th January 2016: The beacons have been returned to service after access to the site became possible following the Christmas break and a wayward circuit breaker was reset.


It is most unfortunate that during this period of VHF and up DX that the VK5VF beacons on 6m, 2m & 70cm have gone off air?

Yagi v Santa

There is a thought that the beacons may have been elf-otaged so as not to cause interference with the navigation system on Santa’s sleigh during high speed maneuvers required over the Christmas delivery period??

Alternatively, it is possible that there has been a total failure on the power feeder to the beacons cabinet. (pesky elfs have been busy!) Unfortunately due to the timing, it will not be possible to visit the site to investigate until somewhere around the 28th or 29th December 2015.

The beacon managers apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Members of AREG wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.


AREG’s General Meeting for December

Well it’s that time of the year again, when the active Ham starts to think about what he would like to find under the Christmas Tree?K3 under Xmas Tree

A K3, or KX3, maybe even the KPA500? Well one is allowed to dream is one not?

AREG’s next General Meeting is this coming Friday night, 18th December.

This will not be a business meeting but a get together of interested amateur radio operators in a social evening where they can recount and discuss experiences and events of the last 12 months.

Everyone is most welcome to come along and visit the AREG meeting, meeting members, many of whom you have probably spoken with over the last 12 months so now is the time to come along and meet those from the other end of those QSOs.

The meeting will be at the Reedbeds Hall, Fitch Road Fulham, doors opening at 7:45 pm.

Coffee, tea, cake and other nibbles will be on for a light supper.

This coming Friday the 18th December, 7:45 pm, so come along, everyone most welcome.

VK5RSB 23cm repeater service

Tuesday 8 December, the VK5RSB 23 cm repeater was given a little TLC by Colin VK5ACE, with support by Ben VK5BB. 23cm Rptr VK5RSB

There had been a number of reports that after a little time into a QSO via the repeater, that a noise was heard to be imposed on top of the QSO repeater audio. The noise and its source were not identified at the time and Colin could not account for it?

It was during a QSO between Ben and Colin that the noise was heard to come on and the comment was, “It sounds like a fan spinning up!”
Colin had a “Eureka” moment an said that it was most probably just that! After the transmitter has been on awhile and warms up, the fan cuts in and is most possibly modulating an internal 12 volt supply rail. This required a site visit to see what could be done.

Colin made all the necessary arrangements and scheduled a visit to the VK5RSB site.
Once at the site, the repeater was pulled out and put on a dummy load, the repeater was keyed up and sure thing, when the PA warmed up, the fan cut in and the noise was heard on the transmit signal.

Colin tried a number of electrolytic capacitors across possible points around the 12 volt fan supply and one point was identified where it appeared the noise was suppressed to the point it could not be heard. The capacitor was duly permanently soldered in, the transmitter tested, good no noise, covers put back on and re-tested and all appeared to be good, still no noise!

The repeater was re-fitted in the rack, cavities and antenna reconnected and the system tested to ensure that the fan switched on when the PA got warm and that there was no noise on the transmit output of the repeater. All was good, the site closed up and Colin and Ben departed.

So folks, there it is, all fixed, we hope?

Reports on the operation and observations of the 23cm repeater will be much appreciated.

Breaking News: WIA News FreeDV Experiment Sunday 6th Dec

To continue promotion of the FreeDV mode, the AREG this coming Sunday is planning to attempt a relay of thethe WIA news using the FreeDV 1600 mode on 40m. The operating frequency will be around 7.177 from 9am CDST (2230UTC) with a FreeDV 1600 net Planed around 9:30am (2300UTC). A FreeDV 700B net will follow after the 1600 mode one.

Andy VK5AKH will be transmitting the WIA Broadcast and acting as net control. He will monitor the FreeDV QSO finder, IRC etc for feedback during the broadcast. If the worst case arises and we can’t get the Broadcast working there will still be an on air gathering at 2300UTC of FreeDV stations.

Andy runs a rotary dipole and would expect that 50W of freeDV should reach most of SE Australia fairly well at this time of the day, so tune in and have a go!