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Click on image to the right for a bigger view.
Folks are probably wondering what happened with the launch and some of the payloads.
The main needle in our side turned out to be the wind. Prior and up to launch time there was a steady wind that was gusting. Before filling the balloon, a decision was made to make a preliminary call to CAMU and ATC and see if it was a no go from the start. They advised that at the time all was still OK and to call when ready. At this point, we started with filling the balloon and as you can imagine, we had some fun controlling the balloon.
The balloon was connected to the payload. However the wind had picked up further. There was some fun and games controlling the payload with one of the key ring connections literally opening up under the strain. There are changes coming there.
CAMU and ATC were again contacted and permission given. Possibly one of the main reasons we were given a go was due to the wind blowing directly south. Well away from the area where they did not want us to fly.
Anyway, at time of release, the payload was stretched at a 45 deg angle with the payload dragging on the ground. This drag and the wind kept the balloon down on the ground. The payload dragged down the airfield till the end of the airfield where it dips down. At this point, it snagged a tree and took the Parrot repeater off and then the balloon literally just took off and headed skyward. In the thread from the previous launch, it was asked how fast it went up. I felt it was fast and graceful. This time it went up like a rocket.
This pull on the payload string literally took the one antenna wire out of the board on the 40m beacon. The beacon was literally a full ¼ wave with two wires just over 10m on either side. This was attached at multiple points to a string about 22m long. The string did not break as the 2nd RF APRS was attached below and worked flawlessly through the flight.
This is the reason the 40m beacon did not work as well as it did the night before where we got reports from the East Coast and Port Elizabeth.
The team was very unhappy with these two failures and do apologise for what happened. We have learned even more and will rectify this in the future. For instance, the payload was laid out with the bottom of the string facing where the wind was coming from and the balloon the other end. In the future with high winds, the balloon and string will be reversed. I.e. the balloon will be released from where the wind is coming and as it starts moving with the wind "OVER" the payload string, pick it up and head off.
The things we learn.
Anyway, to some photos. Click on them to get a larger view.
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