After having a near-perfect flight in June, it was time for Murphy to come back again. Fortunately he didn't do much to us.

This flight was two years to the day after our ill-fated 01-E flight that ended in a fried payload. I was hoping we weren't tempting fate too much by scheduling on the same day of the year again. Much of Saturday and Sunday was overcast with light rain, but by Sunday evening it had cleared out enough that Mars was brilliant in the southeastern sky just days after its close approach, promising good weather for Monday's flight.

Wayne drove for me again this time and we arrived at the launch site about 6:30am. Most of our usual crew arrived shortly afterwards. Dr Mike Larson, a professor at UNO, came out to see the launch activities. He had attended the CU workshop and GPSL 2003 in Colorado, and had recently held a teachers' workshop at UNO where they launched balloon-sats with the help of the Iowa State Univ. HABET group.

The morning weather was perfect, with no discernable wind and temps in the mid 50s. We were planning to launch at 0730, but got started a little late. We started filling the Kaysam 1000g balloon with 1 T-tank and the remaing 20% of another about 0725 and were ready to go about 20 minutes later. We got word of a group on their way to the launch site, so we held a few minutes for them. At 07:51:11 CDT, we let the balloon go.

With a relatively short chase ahead, we decided to stay at the launch site for a while. It was clear enough for us to see the balloon easily, at least until it became more in line with the sun. The primary and backup APRS payloads were functioning well, but the simplex repeater was a little ragged at times - it seemed to have trouble hearing.

Around 0830 CDT we left the launch site and started on our chase. As we got to Hwy 92 and US71, we saw signs indicating a detour near Griswold, which would slow us up a little. Fortunately, the detour was a short one and we continued east. At 08:53:41, the balloon burst a little lower than expected at 73,934 ft.

We continued east on Hwy 92 and began to position ourselves for the landing, which we now expected to be a few miles south or southeast of Cumberland. We also heard several hams from central Iowa joining us now on the chase. As we were driving along the gravel roads, we had expected to see the payloads under the parachute, but none of us could see them yet.

Finally, as the payloads came below 1500 ft AGL, we could see them. This time, the balloon appeared fouled on the bottom payload, so it wasn't swinging quite as badly as we had observed on previous flights. The payloads were over a section of farmland pretty much devoid of hazards, and the landing occurred at 09:32:20 CDT in some corn.

What was either an abandoned farmstead or just a set of buildings was about 300 yds off the road with a trail leading to it. The payloads had landed about 100 more yards into the corn itself. Doug KA0O, Paul KC0KXR, and I began hiking into the cornfield, using the GPS to guide us to the landing spot. We could only see 10-20 ft around us, so it was no easy task. The GPS itself and the roundoff of the data meant for an error of around 50-75 ft, so there was still a little searching to do even after we arrived at the designated spot. Paul was the first to spot the capsule and we all headed to it, following his voice.

The parachute was in the tops of the corn, but was only barely visible from outside the field (we didn't spot it, but Lowell KB6SDI got to a higher spot and could just see it). The payloads were resting on the ground and were covered in condensation. Otherwise everything looked normal and we carted everything out and back to the waiting crew along the roadside. Most of us then went to Massena, where we stopped at a gas station for some drinks and snacks before heading home.

After I got home, I checked out camcorder. It appears I had not started the tape before release, even though I had powered on the camcorder. Normally I check for the red LED indicating the tape was rolling, but this time I forgot to do it. That will be a new checklist item. The still photos had a problem with condensation on the Elph's lens during descent below 10,000 ft. The film emulsion had some damage to it indicating the moisture made its way inside the film area. That is the first time in six flights with this camera setup - for now, we'll just hope it doesn't happen too often. Heating the camera to drive off the moisture could be more problematic than the moisture itself.

The new EEPROM chips logged 3932 position reports, 2820 of which were while the payload was in flight. The recording interval was every 2 seconds, minus about 3 per minute when the Basic Stamp needed extra time to send data to the TNC serial port. I think this is one of the most detailed flight records available. The chips and associated hardware to do this logging was less than $25.

Callsigns heard on the simplex repeater














Audio from the simplex repeater (1.3 Mbyte MP3)