Next Project Horus Launch – Horus 61 – 26th May 2024

AREG’s High-Altitude Ballooning sub-group, Project Horus, is planning their next launch for Sunday the 26th of May, with a planned launch time of 10 AM ACST. If we have to scrub due to weather, the backup launch date is the 2nd of June.

UPDATE: This launch will be conducted from the Mt Barker High School Oval.

This launch is currently planned to be performed from the Mt Barker High School Oval, which is accessible from Stephenson Street, Mt Barker.

Mt Barker Launch Site

The launch team will be arriving on site from around 9:00-9:30 AM. Visitors are welcome!

This will be one of the smallest launches we’ve done in a while, with the payload mass for this flight totalling under 300g, and currently including:

  • Primary Horus Binary telemetry on 434.200 MHz
  • Experimental Horus Binary payload, using a different battery brand, on 434.210 MHz
  • TheThingsNetwork tracking payload, using the AU915 band-plan.

During the flight, all the payloads can be tracked lived on the SondeHub-Amateur tracker here!

There will also be a live dashboard showing telemetry from the flight, which is available here.

Predicted flight path as of Friday 24th May.

Primary Telemetry – Horus Binary 434.200 MHz – HORUS-V2

Reprogrammed RS41The primary tracking telemetry will be transmitted on 434.200 MHz using the Horus Binary 4FSK data mode. Amateurs in the Adelaide and Central SA region are also encouraged to get involved with the flight through receiving and uploading flight telemetry from our 70cm band tracking beacons. Every piece of telemetry data is valuable to the flight tracking and recovery teams so if you can help join the distributed receiver network to collect that data you will be making an important contribution to the project!

If you try receiving the telemetry from this flight, you’ll need a SSB-capable 70cm receiver (or a SDR), and the Horus-GUI telemetry decoder software. A brief guide on setting this up is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/horusdemodlib/wiki/1.1-Horus-GUI-Reception-Guide-(Windows-Linux-OSX)

Listeners that already have Horus-GUI installed are encouraged to update to the latest version, which is available at this link.

Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.199 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

Experimental Battery Payload – Horus Binary 434.210 MHz – VK5ARG

An experimental payload will be transmitting on 434.210 MHz using the Horus Binary 4FSK data mode, and can be received in the same way as the primary tracking payload, with information above. For this payload you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.209 MHz.

This payload will be using Riuhu FR1505 Lithium AA cells instead of the Energizer L91 cells that we usually fly. With suspiciously similar specifications, and at 50% of the price of Energizers, these are worth investigating! We’ll be looking closely at the voltage of this and the primary payload throughout the flight.

TheThingsNetwork Payload – 915 MHz LIPD Band

This flight will also fly a LoRaWAN payload built by Liam VK5ALG, this time relaying positions via TheThingsNetwork (TTN), a global Internet-of-Things network with hundreds of receiver gateways across Australia. You can find out more about how TheThingsNetwork works here.

The aim of this payload is to see what kind of range is possible on the 915 MHz band, and also test a new telemetry gateway which will forward TTN telemetry to the SondeHub-Amateur tracker.

Future Launches

This year we hope to increase our launch cadence with more smaller launches, giving more club members (and the wider amateur radio community!) the opportunity to get involved with our flights. We’ve currently got a few ideas in the works, including:

  • A night launch with a modulated optical beacon.
  • A return of the HQ Wenet payload
  • 360˚ Video Camera
  • Airborne Meshtastic node experiment

Stay tuned!

 

Horus 60 Flight Report

Horus 60 was launched on the 20th of August 2023 as part of AREG’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, and featured our popular SSTV imagery payload along with a new high-quality Wenet imagery payload and other experimental payloads.

On this launch we had Geordie VK3CLR along for the chase, who put together a great video of the day’s activities, and tells the tale better than I could write it up here!

Thanks again to Geordie for producing this!

A dashboard showing telemetry from the flight is available here, and the main statistics from the flight are shown in the following table:

Horus 60 Flight Statistics

Launch Date: 2023-08-20T00:22:27.000000Z
Landing Date: 2023-08-20T02:35:26.000000Z
Launch Site: -35.07586, 138.85677
Landing Site: -35.34007, 139.67903
Distance Travelled: 80 km
Maximum Altitude: 35407 m

Horus 60 Flight Path

SSTV Payload Results

The SSTV payload produced excellent imagery throughout the flight, though unfortunately we had a GPS fault again (likely due to interference from an adjacent payload), so no position/altitude overlays were shown on the images.

Images were received from many people around the Central SA area, with submissions for the SSTV reception certificate from: VK5KVA, VK5KX, VK5ST, VK5ZBI, VK5AV, VK5MA, VK5CLD, VK3FUR/5 and VK5ZM. If you received imagery from the flight, please email us at vi25areg@areg.org.au to get your certificate!

Horus 60 SSTV Reception Certificate Sample

Wenet HQ Imagery Payload

Horus 60 also had the first flight of a new Wenet imagery payload, this time utilising a PiCamera HQ and a large lens, promising much higher quality imagery than we’ve captured previously.

While previous attempts at using higher quality optics have had issues with defocusing in cold temperatures, on this flight the camera performed perfectly, with some of the best quality imagery we’ve seen from a Horus launch in a very long time!

As per tradition, just before packing up the Wenet payload, the chase team took a group photo near the landing site:

The chase team: Mark VK5QI, Drew VK5CLD, Will VK5AHV, Michaela VK3FUR and Geordie VK3CLR

Thanks to all that helped receive the Wenet imagery:

VK3TNUpi4-1: 94460 packets (23.06 MB)
VK5CLD-9: 106422 packets (25.98 MB)
VK5KX-9: 165174 packets (40.33 MB)
VK5IS: 102056 packets (24.92 MB)
VK5QI-9: 113723 packets (27.76 MB)

The more receivers we have during a flight, the higher chance we have of obtaining clear imagery for live display on ssdv.habhub.org!

Primary Telemetry Reception – VI25AREG

For this flight, the primary telemetry payload used the VI25AREG callsign, and performed flawlessly (as we always hope it will!). We had many receivers on this flight, with statistics on who received how many packets in the following table:

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR177795.8%664255
VK3APJ27014.6%114956738
VK3BKQ36219.5%2602227416
VK3IRV613.3%3186834503
VK3TNU71438.5%83549180
VK5ALG144678.0%8646738
VK5AMH169391.3%1731964
VK5APR159085.8%12406700
VK5ARG176094.9%477911
VK5BD137173.9%55186738
VK5CLD23512.7%239934005
VK5CLD-9151681.8%34222
VK5DJ66235.7%978424529
VK5DSP-hab62433.7%257436700
VK5IS168290.7%7233247
VK5KX158085.2%124022
VK5KX-9143777.5%895570
VK5LN110259.4%116837329
VK5NEX152982.5%9646738
VK5QI-9134872.7%33916031
VK5RK107858.1%166129780
VK5RR-VK5FO43523.5%147636700
VK5ST-4146679.1%31466816
VK5TRM159786.1%15871018
VK5ZBI158585.5%12206777
VK5ZQV79743.0%156016777
vk5mhz54629.4%376124970

Thanks to all that received!

Radiation Sensor Payload – HORUSRADMON

This payload was added on somewhat last-minute, and included a photo-diode-based radiation sensor, with the aim of investigating gamma ray levels throughout the flight, similar to what has been performed on previous flights.

Horus 60 Radiation Sensor Results

As expected, the radiation count increased throughout the ascent, before falling again above 20km altitude due the Regener-Pfotzer Maximum effect. Some noise was observed on the sensor just after burst, likely due to the turbulence from the initial fast descent.

Thanks to everyone that received telemetry from this payload, even with the short notice of it’s inclusion in the flight!

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR89991.7%609189
VK3BKQ40.4%3480635038
VK5ALG66367.7%10926727
VK5ALG-942843.7%844976
VK5APR79180.7%12186804
VK5ARG86288.0%5071209
VK5CLD-970772.1%34716
VK5DJ32032.7%277846727
VK5DSP-hab31432.0%262166727
VK5KX-971573.0%901276
VK5QI-967669.0%34616113
VK5RK28429.0%301316644
VK5ST-478880.4%28462375
VK5TRM76578.1%17621264
vk5mhz191.9%28043471

Helium Tracker Payload

This flight also saw a new LoRaWAN payload from Liam VK5ALG, which was received via the Helium Network using the 923 MHz ISM band. On this flight the furthest reception report was from a station in Peterborough, at approximately 250km range. Future flights of this will use a higher gain antenna, and we hope to see even higher reception ranges.

We hope to have positions from this payload showing up on the SondeHub-Amateur tracker on future launches!

Conclusion

A big thanks to everyone that participated in this launch, from those that came along to the launch site, chased, or received telemetry and imagery from home!

We hope to perform a few more flights later this year, including the return of a cross-band repeater payload!

 

Next Project Horus Launch – Horus 60 – Sunday 20th August

UPDATE 21/8: Thanks to all that helped track this flight, it was a great success! A blog post with more information, including lots of great images, will be up in about a week.

Horus 60 Flight path prediction as of 17th August

As part of the VI25AREG celebrations, AREG’s High-Altitude Ballooning sub-group, Project Horus, is planning their next launch for Sunday the 20th of August, with a planned launch time of 10 AM ACST. Backup dates if we have to slip due to weather are the 27th of August… and that’s it!

This launch is currently planned to be performed from the Mt Barker High School Oval with the launch team arriving on site from around 9:00 AM. Note that access to the oval is via Stephenson street, and parking near the oval is extremely limited. 

The payloads for this flight will include:

  • A FM-SSTV Transmitter on 145.100 MHz
  • A Wenet Imagery transmitter on 443.500 MHz
  • Primary Horus Binary telemetry on 434.200 MHz
  • Experimental Radiation Sensor payload (Horus Binary telemetry) on 434.210 MHz 

Details on these payloads are available further below.

Tracking of the flight will be via the SondeHub-Amateur tracker, available by clicking this link.

A dashboard showing telemetry from the payloads is available at this link.

Details on the payloads flying are available below:

Primary Telemetry – 434.200 MHz – VI25AREG

Reprogrammed RS41The primary tracking telemetry will be transmitted on 434.200 MHz using the Horus Binary 4FSK data mode. Amateurs in the Adelaide and Central SA region are also encouraged to get involved with the flight through receiving and uploading flight telemetry from our 70cm band tracking beacons. Every piece of telemetry data is valuable to the flight tracking and recovery teams so if you can help join the distributed receiver network to collect that data you will be making an important contribution to the project!

If you try receiving the telemetry from this flight, you’ll need a SSB-capable 70cm receiver (or a SDR), and the Horus-GUI telemetry decoder software. A brief guide on setting this up is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/horusdemodlib/wiki/1.1-Horus-GUI-Reception-Guide-(Windows-Linux-OSX)

Listeners that already have Horus-GUI installed are encouraged to update to the latest version, which is available at this link.

Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.199 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

There will also be an experimental radiation sensor payload (HORUSRADMON) on 434.210 MHz (434.209 MHz USB dial frequency). If you can only receive one, prioritise the 434.200 MHz signal.

FM SSTV Imagery – 145.100 MHz

This launch will most likely be flying a FM SSTV transmitter operating on 145.100 MHz FM. It will run approximately 200mW transmit power. The transmitter will have 1 minute gaps between image transmissions to avoid overheating the transmitter. This payload last flew on Horus 59 with good results.

SSTV image from Horus 59

The payload will be transmitting images using the PD120 SSTV mode throughout the flight, and can be decoded using any SSTV software capable of decoding this mode (pretty much all of them!). This mode is what was commonly broadcast from the International Space Station.

Examples of suitable software you can use to decode the SSTV pictures include:

Any FM receiver (including handhelds) should be capable of receiving this payload, though as with the cross-band repeater, a Yagi antenna may be necessary for reliable reception at the edges of the transmitter footprint.

We’ve also setup a temporary 2m SSTV skimmer up at AREG’s remote HF receive site, which (if it works!) will post received images here: https://botsin.space/@aregsstv/tagged/PD120

We will have some digital certificates available for listeners that submit an image from the highest 1km of the flight (to be determined after the flight has finished). Email your images to vi25areg@areg.org.au !

Wenet Imagery – 443.500 MHz

Imagery on this flight will be transmitted via the Wenet downlink system, which uses 115kbit/s Frequency-Shift-Keying to send HD snapshots. Reception of the Wenet imagery requires a Linux computer, a RTLSDR, and a 70cm antenna with some gain (a 5-element Yagi is usually enough).

This payload will be trialing a PiCamera HQ, with a much larger lens. This will hopefully give us much higher quality imagery than we’ve seen previously, so long as we don’t hit focus drift issues like we have seen on previous flights.

Wenet imagery from a previous launch.

A guide on how to get set up to receive the Wenet signal is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/wenet/wiki/Wenet-RX-Instructions-(Linux-using-Docker)

Please note the transmit frequency of 443.5 MHz, which may require listeners to re-configure their Wenet setup. Listeners who are already setup to receive Wenet should consider updating their decoding software to the latest version (Due to be released at the beginning of August 2023), with update instructions available here.

During the flight, the live imagery will be available at this link: http://ssdv.habhub.org/

Horus 59 Flight Report

Horus 59 came about as a result of the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program launch, as we still an almost-full cylinder of Helium left over. Launch planning progressed through February, resulting in a launch on Sunday the 25th of February 2023.

The following payloads flew on this launch:

  • A FM-SSTV transmitter, sending imagery in the PD120 mode on 145.100 MHz;
  • A Wenet imagery transmitter on 443.500 MHz, with the new Pi Camera v3;
  • A Geiger-Tube based radiation sensor payload on 434.210 MHz (the same one that flew on Horus 58 and SHSSP 2023);
  • A LoRaWAN beacon, provided by Liam VK5ALG; and
  • Our usual Horus Binary telemetry payload on 434.200 MHz.

Iain Crawford VK5ZD captured much of the days events on video:

Launch Planning

This launch aimed to get more AREG club members involved in the launch planning process. Mark VK5QI ran a series of workshops in the lead-up to the launch, working through the regulatory and planing aspects of a high-altitude balloon launch. The day before the launch a smaller group got together to test telemetry reception and go through some of the more practical aspects of a launch. We hope to run more workshops like this for future launches!

Some of the launch planning group working through practicing filling a balloon.

Preparations & Launch

The launch team gathered at the Auburn Community oval at 9AM and started preparing for the flight. This launch saw many spectators, including a few from the mid-north. Iain VK5ZD was also on-site to document the launch activities, with a video to come soon (once he’s back from a holiday!). The launch site weather was perfect, with mostly clear skies and only light winds.

AREG Club Members preparing the balloon for launch, with many onlookers! (Imaged by the Wenet payload waiting to be launched)

All the payload were powered on, tested and sealed up, and the balloon was filled. This was a ‘fast fill’ launch, using up all the leftover gas from the previous SHSSP 2023 launch, and went smoothly.

The balloon and payloads were raised into the air, with the final payload handed over to Jackson (son of AREG member Brett VK5TLE) to perform the launch!

Launch!

Chase & Recovery

After the launch, the chase teams (and there were 7 of them on this launch!) headed north-east to get closer to the predicted landing area, pulling in at a rest stop south of Hanson, SA.

Chase Teams waiting for the balloon to burst near Hanson, SA

Peter VK5KX was set up here with his portable rotator station, receiving telemetry from all payloads:

Peter VK5KX’s portable tracking setup

While waiting at the Hanson rest stop the balloon was spotted flying at 30 km altitude, almost directly above the rest stop location! Appearing as a small white dot, many of the chasers were able to watch the balloon travel across the sky for about 20 minutes, before seeing it disappear when it burst at 32,807 metres altitude.

Iain, Ady, Drew and Mark watching the balloon drift along at 30km altitude.

The chase teams didn’t have far to travel to get to the landing area, only 7km to the North-East of Hanson, just off the Barrier Highway. All the teams were able to get into position to watch the payload descend into an empty paddock, a great experience for the new balloon chasers!

 

Horus 59 Flight Path

The payloads were quickly recovered, with the mandatory Wenet Payload group photo being taken once the payload were back at the cars:

Horus 59 Chase Team Group Photo, taken by the Wenet Payload camera.

FM-SSTV Payload Results

Apart from an issue with the onboard GPS receiver, the FM-SSTV payload transmitted imagery fine all throughout the flight. So far we’ve received a few reception reports from the Adelaide area, and also Pt Lincoln, though we expect this payload would have been receivable well into Victoria. If you received imagery from this flight, please let us know!

A selection of images received by Mark VK5QI’s home station in Adelaide are shown below:

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Wenet Payload Results

The new camera (A Raspberry Pi Camera v3) under trial on this launch produces images with excellent colour and low distortion, however as it ascended the lens started to de-focus, resulting in all the images above a few km altitude being quite blurry.

This is most likely due the extreme cold the camera was subjected to resulting in physical variation of the lens-to-sensor spacing. Whether this can be compensated for will be determined through some on-ground experiments (dry ice might be involved…), though it’s likely we’ll look at other camera options for future launches.

A selection of photos taken by the Wenet payload camera are shown in the following gallery:

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LoRaWAN Payload Results

On this flight Liam’s LoRaWAN payload featured an upgraded antenna, and even though the maximum altitude of this flight was 500m below when the LoRaWAN payload was previous flown (Horus 58), it was received another 50km further afield, by a TheThingsNetwork station in Ballarat, Victoria. We’ll try out this payload again on future launches, hoping to get even longer reception reports!

LoRaWAN Payload Coverage Map

Receiver Statistics – Horus Binary Telemetry

The Horus Binary payload proved to be as reliable as ever, reporting position and sensor data throughout the flight. A Grafana dashboard summarising the telemetry data from the flight is available here.

We saw a total of 25 unique callsigns receiving on this flight, with reception statistics for each station shown below:

Horus 59 - HORUS-V2 Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR160.9%115763437
N0CALL10.1%33473347
VK3TNU pi3-384145.0%1342415292
VK5AJQ141375.7%90211681
VK5AKH94050.3%6888536
VK5AKK176394.4%5501030
VK5ALG170791.4%7261427
VK5ALG-9181297.1%311536
VK5APR10.1%10811081
VK5ARG183498.2%309570
VK5CLD-9151881.3%310536
VK5DJ98252.6%1040512276
VK5DSP-hab136873.3%77754207
VK5EME-5181497.2%6381342
VK5FADE824.4%19364044
VK5HI160.9%1469014867
VK5IS184899.0%406570
VK5KX#2935.0%1143813232
VK5KX-9164988.3%669570
VK5KX-i555229.6%13942570
VK5LN155183.1%43735363
VK5NEX178695.7%12951342
VK5NTM177795.2%1842806
VK5QI-9164588.1%310606
VK5ST-4150780.7%7261797
VK5ZBI107057.3%67393600
VK5ZQV56430.2%1406930447

Horus 59 - HORUSGEIGER Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR155483.0%1011890
VK3TNU pi3-390048.1%1182115415
VK5AKH82043.8%6884562
VK5AKK173792.8%5671697
VK5ALG173792.8%6391929
VK5ALG-9180296.3%312500
VK5ARG182897.6%312598
VK5CLD-9167689.5%312500
VK5CV147879.0%9873986
VK5DSP-hab134271.7%77796660
VK5KX-9180296.3%733530
VK5QI-9181697.0%311530
VK5ST-4178995.6%6391122
VK5SWR603.2%2223923376

Receiver Statistics – Wenet Imagery

This flight saw 10 receiver stations contributing packets to the live imagery on https://ssdv.habhub.org/. Thanks to all that helped out with this!

VK5LO: 63593 packets (15.53 MB)
VK5IS: 126191 packets (30.81 MB)
VK3TNUpi4-1: 7311 packets (1.78 MB)
VK5CLD-9: 40111 packets (9.79 MB)
VK5PW: 110448 packets (26.96 MB)
VK5KX: 56684 packets (13.84 MB)
VK5AKH: 40550 packets (9.90 MB)
VK5QI: 146240 packets (35.70 MB)
VK5ALG: 98107 packets (23.95 MB)
VK5ST: 638 packets (0.16 MB)

Conclusion

Even with some payload issues, Horus 59 was a successful launch and saw lots of AREG club members get involved in the planning, execution, and chase aspects of the flight. Thanks to all that came out for the day, and also thanks to those that helped receive telemetry throughout the flight!

Project Horus’ next launch will likely not be for a few months, and will hopefully see the return of the DVB-S transmitter payload, and live video from the stratosphere!

Horus 59 - Flight Statistics

MetricResult
Flight Designation:Horus 59
Launch Date:2023-02-25 23:29Z
Landing Date:2023-02-26 01:42Z
Flight Duration:~2 hours, 12 min
Launch Site:-34.02935, 138.69128
Landing Site:-33.70648, 138.88831
Distance Traveled:40 km
Maximum Altitude:32,807 m

Next Project Horus Launch – Horus 59 – 26th February 10AM

The AREG’s High-Altitude Ballooning sub-group, Project Horus, is planning their next launch for Sunday the 26th of February, with a planned launch time of 10 AM ACDT.

This launch will be performed from the Auburn Community Oval, with the launch team arriving on site from around 9:15 AM. Spectators are welcome!

The payloads for this flight will include:

  • A FM-SSTV Transmitter on 145.100 MHz
  • A Wenet Imagery transmitter on 443.500 MHz
  • Horus Binary telemetry on 434.200 MHz
  • Radiation Sensor Payload on 434.210 MHz

Details on these payloads are available further below.

Tracking of the flight will be via the SondeHub-Amateur tracker, available by clicking this link.

A dashboard showing telemetry from the primary and radiation sensor payloads is available here.

Details on the payloads flying are available below:

Primary Telemetry – 434.200 MHz

Reprogrammed RS41The primary tracking telemetry will be transmitted on 434.200 MHz using the Horus Binary 4FSK data mode. Amateurs in the Adelaide and Central SA region are also encouraged to get involved with the flight through receiving and uploading flight telemetry from our 70cm band tracking beacons. Every piece of telemetry data is valuable to the flight tracking and recovery teams so if you can help join the distributed receiver network to collect that data you will be making an important contribution to the project!

If you try receiving the telemetry from this flight, you’ll need a SSB-capable 70cm receiver (or a SDR), and the Horus-GUI telemetry decoder software. A brief guide on setting this up is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/horusdemodlib/wiki/1.1-Horus-GUI-Reception-Guide-(Windows-Linux-OSX)

Listeners that already have Horus-GUI installed are encouraged to update to the latest version, which is available at this link.

Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.199 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

FM SSTV Imagery – 145.100 MHz

This launch will most likely be flying a FM SSTV transmitter operating on 145.100 MHz FM. It will run approximately 200mW transmit power. The transmitter will have 1 minute gaps between image transmissions to avoid overheating the transmitter. This payload last flew on Horus 50, and has since been upgraded to support higher resolution imagery.

SSTV Imagery Example

The payload will be transmitting images using the PD120 SSTV mode throughout the flight, and can be decoded using any SSTV software capable of decoding this mode (pretty much all of them!). This mode is what was commonly broadcast from the International Space Station.

Examples of suitable software you can use to decode the SSTV pictures include:

Any FM receiver (including handhelds) should be capable of receiving this payload, though as with the cross-band repeater, a Yagi antenna may be necessary for reliable reception at the edges of the transmitter footprint.

We’ve also setup a temporary 2m SSTV skimmer up at AREG’s remote HF receive site, which (if it works!) will post received images here: https://botsin.space/@aregsstv/tagged/PD120

If you do receive images, please post them to Social Media and on Twitter include the #horus59 hashtag so everyone can see them! Reception reports would also be appreciated, please send these to vk5arg@areg.org.au

Radiation Sensor Payload – 434.210 MHz

A radiation sensor payload, using a Geiger-Muller Tube, will also be launched on this flight. This will be transmitting on 434.210 MHz, also using the Horus Binary 4FSK  data mode. The aim of this payload is to investigate the variation in radiation exposure throughout the flight, and compare it with data from previous launches.

This telemetry can be decoded using the same Horus-GUI software as the primary telemetry. Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.209 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

Wenet Imagery – 443.500 MHz

Imagery on this flight will be transmitted via the Wenet downlink system, which uses 115kbit/s Frequency-Shift-Keying to send HD snapshots. Reception of the Wenet imagery requires a Linux computer, a RTLSDR, and a 70cm antenna with some gain (a 5-element Yagi is usually enough).

This payload will most likely be trialing the new Raspberry Pi Camera v3, which will hopefully bring improved image quality (if it works!).

Wenet imagery from a previous launch.

A guide on how to get set up to receive the Wenet signal is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/wenet/wiki/Wenet-RX-Instructions-(Linux-using-Docker)

Please note the transmit frequency of 443.5 MHz, which may require listeners to re-configure their Wenet setup. Listeners who are already setup to receive Wenet should consider updating their decoding software to the latest version (December 2022), with update instructions available here.

During the flight, the live imagery will be available at this link: http://ssdv.habhub.org/

SHSSP 2023 Flight Report

In January 2023, the Project Horus High-Altitude Ballooning group performed two launches, Horus 58 on the 15th of January, and the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program 2023 launch, on the 29th of January.

Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program Background

The Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program is a multi-week course conducted by the University of South Australia, in partnership with the International Space University. This is an intensive program designed to provide a multidisciplinary understanding of the key activities and areas of knowledge required in today’s space professions. It covers a wide range of topics including space systems engineering, space science, space law, and much more!

The Amateur Radio Experimenters Group has been involved in this program for many years, assisting with High-Altitude Balloon workshops. Over the course of a week, participants learn about the regulatory, technical, and practical aspects of a high-altitude balloon launch; develop a payload to fly on the launch; and finally perform the launch and analyse the collected data.

The SHSSP 2023 High-Altitude Balloon Cohort

This year’s participants were split into teams focusing on different aspects of the flight:

  • Launch Planning & Execution, lead by Mark VK5QI
  • Payloads, lead by Matt VK5ZM
  • Ground Stations & Telemetry, lead by Bill VK5DSP
  • Imagery and Data Analysis, lead by David Bruce

This years launch included multiple imaging payloads (horizon and nadir-facing), and a radiation sensor payload, which the participants calibrated against a Cobalt-60 source and a known-good personal dosimeter. The dosimeter was also flown as a backup.

Launch Planning & Delay

Planning for the flight started on Monday the 23rd, where it was realised that a weather front was going to be moving through the state over the launch weekend. This meant that there was significant uncertainty in the weather models, and so both the flight path predictions, and the predictions for launch day weather was changing drastically with every model update.

On Wednesday the call was made based on the current weather models to move the launch from Saturday to Sunday (with a fairly significant effort in rearranging all the launch-day logistics on the part of UniSA!). At this point the cloud forecasts for Sunday looked significantly better (no cloud!), and the predicted flight path resulted in a landing not too far from Auburn.

Unfortunately, as we got closer to the launch day, the weather forecasts got worse and worse. The weather front which was originally predicted to pass over the launch area on Saturday was now ‘running late’, and would still give us grief on the Sunday. While the wind and temperature forecasts looked good, we now had a 100% chance of blanket cloud cover (rending the Nadir-facing imagery useless), and a reasonable chance of showers!

Cloud forecast predictions for the Sunday (as forecast Saturday morning), from Windy.com

Additionally, the predicted flight path was now trending further the south-east, with the landing now predicted somewhere between Truro and Blanchetown.

Unfortunately delaying the launch to the following weekend was not practical due to other schedule conflicts, so planning progressed for a Sunday morning launch, hoping that the forecast rain would be gone by the time of the launch.

Launch, Chase & Recovery

The morning of the launch the SHSSP participants and the AREG launch crew assembled at the launch site to overcast skies. Thankfully most of the heavier showers had fallen overnight, but a light drizzle persisted right throughout the launch.

SHSSP participants preparing the payloads

Preparations for the launch quickly got underway, with each SHSSP team working on their respective areas. Payloads were prepared, balloons filled, ground-stations setup, and by 11:30 AM everything was ready for launch.

SHSSP participants filling the balloon

Just as the count-down began, the wind picked up, resulting in one of the payloads having a bit of a bounce on the ground before the entire payload train rose slowly into the air.

Launch!

After the balloon was released, the SHSSP teams headed back to the ground-station to watch the live telemetry and images, while the chase teams headed off towards the landing site (via the Truro bakery of course!). Unfortunately the SSDV website crashed about 10 minutes before the launch, so those watching from home were unable to see the live imagery.

SHSSP 2023 Flight Path

The balloon rose to a maximum altitude of 35431m (a good performance for the balloon in use) before bursting and descending. The descent was a fair bit faster than expected, later discovered to be due to about 700g of the 1600g balloon getting tangled around the parachute! For a while it looked like the payloads may end up landing a long way from a road, but the high descent rate resulted in them landing in a fairly accessible area, only a short walk from a nearby track.

The recovery teams (lead by Mark VK5QI, Liam VK5LJG, Steve VK5ST, with Don VK5KT joining us near the landing) were able to watch the payloads descend the last few hundred metres, before landing… in a tree.

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Getting the payloads out of the tree took a bit of effort with a long pole and a knife, but eventually the payloads were all cut loose. Thanks again to all those that came out on the chase!

Data Analysis

From the flight came a range of data products, including:

  • ‘Live’ radiation measurements from the Geiger Counter payload
  • Cumulative radiation dose measurements from the personal dosimeter (3 uSv dose over the flight)
  • Lots of imagery!

Some examples of imagery from the Horizon-facing camera are shown in the following gallery:

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Unfortunately the Nadir-facing imagery showed nothing but cloud, so the participants made use of the imagery captured on the Horus 58 launch for their analysis. They used the open source QGIS software to geo-reference some of the captured images, and then perform pan-sharpening of imagery of the same area captured by the Sentinel-2A earth observation satellite, essentially increasing the spatial resolution of the Sentinel imagery. The following images show an example the original low resolution (10 m), and pan-sharpened high resolution (1.5 m) imagery.

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The radiation sensor data showed similar levels to the previous Horus 58 launch, with the Pfotzer-Regener maximum observed around 20km altitude.

Radiation levels (top) observed throughout the SHSSP 2023 flight.

The telemetry data for the flight was also shown live on a data dashboard, which can be viewed at this link. 

Receiver Statistics – Horus Binary Telemetry

As with the Horus 58 flight, we saw a great response from the local amateur radio community in helping to receive telemetry. This flight saw 37 unique callsigns receiving telemetry, including three stations run by the SHSSP participants. This flight also got high enough for a few stations in Melbourne to join in on the fun!

SHSSP 2023 - SHSSP2023 Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR42720.9%10238997
SHSSP-RJ119558.5%31229111
SHSSP-VM22010.8%1207829404
VK3BKQ1698.3%3350531121
VK3BQ1859.1%3353133632
VK3JUG-5164980.8%51144619
VK3TNU pi3-282240.3%1193529111
VK5AKH165481.0%31229494
VK5AKK191193.6%4162152
VK5ALG180588.4%6094504
VK5ALG-9201198.5%31278
VK5AMH180888.6%19691092
VK5APR158777.8%7772152
VK5ARG195895.9%310952
VK5CLD188092.1%4001043
VK5CV160178.4%19164581
VK5DJ121159.3%124368653
VK5DMC127362.4%69674504
VK5FD191994.0%4732644
VK5GY190693.4%7024776
VK5IS194295.1%5052152
VK5KX-i5200198.0%31178
VK5LO-591344.7%60929290
VK5MAS94746.4%1382429111
VK5NEX187491.8%8463025
VK5NTM195095.5%846251
VK5OI100.5%42744214
VK5PJ182989.6%137578
VK5QI-9188792.5%31279
VK5RK192494.3%5052201
VK5RR-VK5FO753.7%6852220
VK5ST-4192494.3%5941971
VK5ST-9110654.2%558378
VK5ST-991119958.7%66814717
VK5SWR291.4%24524446
VK5TRM191894.0%1205858
VK5ZM108853.3%2762878
VK5ZQV114456.1%176611187
vk5mad100.5%66546838

SHSSP 2023 - SHSSPGEIGER Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR196596.4%47973
SHSSP-TW187692.0%3092744
SHSSP-VM115256.5%3095681
VK3BQ211.0%3490935370
VK3TNU pi3-298248.2%101058851
VK5AKK157277.1%78982051
VK5ALG184990.7%6124601
VK5ARG195595.9%305746
VK5CV10.0%676676
VK5LO-5101449.7%163831998
VK5OI156776.9%37114728
VK5QI-9187592.0%30873
VK5RR-VK5FO108953.4%234624932
VK5ST-4193694.9%495941
VK5ST-9117457.6%550573
VK5SWR128963.2%28682467
VK5ZM108553.2%2769873

Receiver Statistics – Wenet Imagery

Unfortunately due to the failure of the SSDV website just prior to launch, we were unable to obtain statistics of who was uploading telemetry throughout the entire flight. Data was recorded until about 1 hour into the flight, and is presented below. The SSDV webpage will be back up and running for the next launch.

Thanks in particular to the stations that setup portable to try and capture as much telemetry as possible from the flight:

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Nadir-Facing Imagery

SHSSP23_1: 92090 packets (22.48 MB)
VK5QI-9: 64781 packets (15.82 MB)
VK5ST: 16 packets (0.00 MB)
VK5CLD: 4 packets (0.00 MB)
VK5LO: 44346 packets (10.83 MB)
VK5KX: 128164 packets (31.29 MB)

Outward-Facing Imagery

VK5DSP: 20904 packets (5.10 MB)
VK5QI-9: 38550 packets (9.41 MB)
VK5ALG-9: 17343 packets (4.23 MB)
VK5DSPshssp: 13084 packets (3.19 MB)
VK5AKH: 53917 packets (13.16 MB)
VK5PW: 36824 packets (8.99 MB)
VK5KX-2: 52495 packets (12.82 MB)

 

Conclusion

Even with the non-ideal weather, the SHSSP High-Altitude Balloon workshops and launch went well, with the participants certainly enjoying the experience! Thanks again to UniSA and the International Space University for letting us participate in the SHSSP again this year, and we look forward to building on this in next year’s program.

As always, a big thank you to all of our community members who get setup to track out flights, be it with a portable station, at home, or out on the chase. Keep an ear out for our next launch, which should be happening late February 2023!

SHSSP 2023 - Flight Statistics

MetricResult
Flight Designation:SHSSP 2023
Launch Date:2023-01-29 01:21Z
Landing Date:2023-01-29 03:43Z
Flight Duration:~2.5 hours
Launch Site:-34.02945, 138.69169
Landing Site:-34.43088, 139.41885
Distance Traveled:80.4 km
Maximum Altitude:35,431 m

Horus 58 Flight Report

In January 2023, the Project Horus High-Altitude Ballooning group performed two launches, Horus 58 on the 15th of January, and the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program 2023 launch, on the 29th of January. This is the first of two flight reports, with the SHSSP 2023 report coming soon!

Horus 58 – Test Flight – 15th January 2023

The Horus 58 launch was intended as a flight test of the payloads to be used in the SHSSP 2023 launch, and included:

  • 2x Horus Binary telemetry payloads, one with a radiation sensor.
  • Outward-Facing Wenet Imagery
  • Nadir (Downward) Facing Wenet Imagery, with an IR filter
  • LoRaWAN Telemetry Beacon (not used in the SHSSP launch)

In particular, the radiation sensor payload (using a Geiger-Muller Tube) and the Nadir-Facing imagery payload were newly built and needed to be flight-proven to limit the chances of failure on the upcoming SHSSP 2023 launch. Also flown was a LoRaWAN payload built by Liam VK5ALG, which was received by TheThingsNetwork gateways.

Peter VK5KX’s Ground-Station, setup at the Auburn launch site.

This launch also provided a great opportunity for the local amateur radio community to get setup to receive the many telemetry signals which would be broadcast from both launches. We saw many stations receive both the low-rate Horus Binary telemetry, and the high-speed Wenet Imagery payloads.

Launch, Chase and Recovery

The launch day had excellent weather, with mild temperatures and calm winds at the launch site. Launch preparations took a little bit longer than expected due to less people around, but we were still able to get the launch in the air by 10:30 AM local time.

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With the balloon in the air, two chase teams (lead by Mark VK5QI, and Liam VK5ALG) then departed from the launch site to head off to the landing area. While making a lunch stop at the Eudunda Bakery, they were able to sight the balloon in the air, and even get a picture of the balloon before it burst at 33.359 km altitude.

Horus 58 at 33 km altitude, seen from the ground at Eudunda, SA

After burst, the chase teams headed south of Eudunda, where they met up with Steve VK5ST who was also out chasing. The payloads eventually landed a fair way into a property, but thanks to the landowner (Condor Laucke, of Laucke Mills), they were able to gain access and recover the payloads.

Payload Results

All payloads performed almost perfectly on this flight! The only small issue was seen on the Horizon-facing imagery payload, which was slightly out of focus (an easy fix once back on the ground). The Nadir (downward) facing payload took many high quality images of the ground underneath the launch site, which proved very useful to the SHSSP 2023 participants for reasons to be discussed later!

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The radiation sensor payload data clearly showed an increase in radiation levels as the payloads increased in altitude to ~20 km, and then a decrease in levels above that. This effect is known as the ‘Pfotzer-Regener Maximum’. All the sensor data from this flight can be seen on an interactive dashboard available here.

The LoRaWAN payload also performed well, being received as far away as Portland, Victoria:

Receiver Statistics – Horus Binary Telemetry

We saw a great turnout of receivers on this launch, with 30 unique callsigns receiving the Horus Binary telemetry. Thanks to all that helped receive telemetry from this flight!

Horus 58 - HORUS V2 Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR146576.9%3441524
VK3BKQ-PORTARLINGTON10.1%3186031860
VK3JUG70.4%1653117237
VK3OF86245.3%1268111840
VK3TNU pi3-277240.5%2060010465
VK3TRO70.4%2502330667
VK5AKK173591.1%12133056
VK5APR162085.1%13441443
VK5ARG185597.4%7061130
VK5CLD159283.6%926524
VK5CV116761.3%34651964
VK5DMC56329.6%273662466
VK5DSP145976.6%37611934
VK5DSP-2144175.7%32254563
VK5FD175492.1%3594888
VK5GA159683.8%7921767
VK5GY177193.0%6831856
VK5IS186998.2%6641180
VK5KX-i5189099.3%312915
VK5LJG181995.5%6641443
VK5LJG-9167187.8%313400
VK5LN137772.3%47716499
VK5LO26413.9%8488135
VK5LO-5153380.5%82411520
VK5NEX177693.3%19331856
VK5NTM186898.1%848407
VK5QI-9183596.4%313524
VK5RK178393.6%2388972
VK5RR30.2%21962273
VK5RR-VK5FO131369.0%6597972
VK5ST-4173791.2%11681103
VK5ST-9115860.8%500426
VK5TRM185097.2%1144972
VK5ZM182896.0%3121180
vk5mhz123064.6%115972438

Horus 58 - HORUSGEIGER Receiver Statistics

CallsignReceived PacketsPercentage of Flight ReceivedFirst-Received Altitude (m)Last-Received Altitude (m)
BARC-RRR172390.3%1623938
VK3OF1869.7%1432518409
VK3TNU pi3-267635.4%2063810493
VK3TNU pi3-391547.9%1265011374
VK5ARG185797.3%717550
VK5DSP-2137271.9%74232113
VK5GY251.3%56326096
VK5LJG182695.7%6921596
VK5LJG-9183896.3%313397
VK5QI-1173891.0%8061859
VK5QI-9181695.1%313423
VK5ST-4185997.4%671911
VK5ST-9117261.4%481397
VK5ZM182495.5%3121125

Receiver Statistics – Wenet Imagery

A special thanks goes to the 7 stations that received and uploaded imagery during the flight, with a few stations setting up to receive both imagery payloads at once. Being able to see live imagery from the flight on https://ssdv.habhub.org/ really adds something special to the experience!

Outward-Facing Imagery

VK5KX-2: 140407 packets (34.28 MB)
VK5QI-9: 127137 packets (31.04 MB)
VK5DSP: 80707 packets (19.70 MB)
VK3TNUpi4-2: 31072 packets (7.59 MB)
VK5CLD: 642 packets (0.16 MB)
VK5PW: 4969 packets (1.21 MB)

Nadir-Facing Imagery

VK5LO: 15495 packets (3.78 MB)
VK5QI-9: 182410 packets (44.53 MB)
VK5PW: 140122 packets (34.21 MB)
VK3TNUpi4-1: 31590 packets (7.71 MB)
VK5KX: 245956 packets (60.05 MB)
VK5DSP: 4614 packets (1.13 MB)

Conclusion

Horus 58 was another highly successful flight, and provided valuable testing for the SHSSP 2023 launch. Thanks again to all who participated in the flight, through helping out at the launch site, chasing, or receiving telemetry.

Stay tuned for a report on the SHSSP 2023 launch!

Horus 58 - Flight Statistics

MetricResult
Flight Designation:Horus 58
Launch Date:2023-01-15 00:03Z
Landing Date:2023-01-15 02:17Z
Flight Duration:~2 hours
Launch Site:-34.02945, 138.69169
Landing Site:-34.23788, 139.13095
Distance Traveled:46.6 km
Maximum Altitude:33,359 m

Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program 2023 – Balloon Launch NOW SUNDAY 29th January

UPDATE: Thanks to all that helped out with this launch, both at the launch site, and receiving telemetry! It was great to see such a large turnout of receivers on the tracker. Unfortunately the live SSDV imagery website failed just before the launch, but we’ll post some photos from the flight in an upcoming blog post.

AREG is pleased to once again be involved with the International Space University’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SHSSP) hosted by the University of South Australia. This year one balloon is being launched from the Auburn Community Oval as part of the program.

Launch is now planned to occur around 11:00-11:30 AM on Sunday the 29th of January. Launch crews will be on-site from approximately 10:00 AM.

All amateurs across the state are invited to participate in the flight through collecting the 4FSK telemetry. All you need is an SSB receiver on 70cm, and an interface to your computer. The rest is software!

Tracking of the flight will be via the SondeHub-Amateur tracker, available by clicking this link. There will also be live imagery transmitted throughout the flight (refer further below for decoding details), available here.

A live data dashboard showing telemetry from the various payloads will be available during the flight at this link.

Primary Telemetry – 434.200 MHz

Reprogrammed RS41The primary tracking telemetry will be transmitted on 434.200 MHz using the Horus Binary 4FSK data mode. Amateurs in the Adelaide and Central SA region are also encouraged to get involved with the flight through receiving and uploading flight telemetry from our 70cm band tracking beacons. Every piece of telemetry data is valuable to the flight tracking and recovery teams so if you can help join the distributed receiver network to collect that data you will be making an important contribution to the project!

If you try receiving the telemetry from this flight, you’ll need a SSB-capable 70cm receiver (or a SDR), and the Horus-GUI telemetry decoder software. A brief guide on setting this up is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/horusdemodlib/wiki/1.1-Horus-GUI-Reception-Guide-(Windows-Linux-OSX)

Listeners that already have Horus-GUI installed are encouraged to update to the latest version, which is available at this link.

Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.199 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

Radiation Sensor Payload – 434.210 MHz

A radiation sensor payload, using a Geiger-Muller Tube, will also be launched on this flight. This will be transmitting on 434.210 MHz, also using the Horus Binary 4FSK  data mode. The aim of this payload is to investigate the variation in radiation exposure throughout the flight.

This telemetry can be decoded using the same Horus-GUI software as the primary telemetry. Note that you will need to use a USB ‘dial’ frequency of 434.209 MHz for the 4FSK signal to be centred in your receiver passband and hence be decodable.

Tracking Details – Downward-Facing Imagery – 441.200 MHz

Imagery on this flight will be transmitted via the Wenet downlink system, which uses 115kbit/s Frequency-Shift-Keying to send HD snapshots. Reception of the Wenet imagery requires a Linux computer, a RTLSDR, and a 70cm antenna with some gain (a 5-element Yagi is usually enough).

This flight will be flying a downward-facing camera. The imagery captured from this payload will be used by SHSSP participants to pan-sharpen lower resolution satellite imagery.

A guide on how to get set up to receive the Wenet signal is available here: https://github.com/projecthorus/wenet/wiki/Wenet-RX-Instructions-(Linux-using-Docker)

Please note the transmit frequency of 441.2 MHz, which may require listeners to re-configure their Wenet setup. Listeners who are already setup to receive Wenet should consider updating their decoding software to the latest version (December 2022), with update instructions available here.

During the flight, the live imagery will be available at this link: http://ssdv.habhub.org/

Tracking Details – Outward-Facing Imagery – 443.500 MHz

There will be a second imagery payload running on 443.500 MHz. This is a re-flight of our usual imagery payload, with the cameras pointing towards the horizon.

If you have the capability of running 2 receivers, please consider receiving this payload as well, but please prioritise receiving the payload on 441.200 MHz.