Photos from the Launch of BLT-20.5 on 14MAY05 at 8:00 PM from the Secret BLT Launch Facility on Lake Livingston.
In addition to launching BLT-20.5, we also caught and kept hundreds of fish, had a Fajita Feast, a Crawfish Boil, launched rockets, had an "official" visit, and FOUND the geocache on Pine Island. It was a GREAT event!
The BLT-20.5 payload weighed in at 2.4 oz with an additional 3.0 oz for the 80-M dipole. It was a hand-wired, modified version of a Fireball 3.2 beacon system with 50 mW of CW beeps (speed proportional to temperature) on 3686.4 kHz.
We had a very short cord between the balloon and the parachute. Stuart hangs on tightly. We're showing over 11 oz of lift! HOT!!
There was NO wind. We had hoped for this, but were amazed at our good fortune. The back-up plan was to take everything out on the lake, and drive the boat under the balloon during antenna deployment. It's not that easy to get a 12-story-tall assembly UP! The 80-M dipole alone, was 127 feet long! Charlie, Stuart and Andy W5ACM begin the unfurling.
Andy has wrapped the antenna, with the "fireball" in the middle, around a large-diameter paper tube. Except for a little difficulty with the asymetrical load, it spools off nicely with help from Charlie and Stuart.
Ah! This is SMOOOOTH! The antenna is unrolling nicely, and the balloon is going STRAIGHT UP.
"Careful! Careful! This is ONE TALL PARTY BALLOON LAUNCH!"
Ah!! Success!! A PERFECT deployment!! It's going STRAIGHT UP!!
"I love the feeling of latex in the evening... To the Edge of Space!"
An ICOM 706 Mark II G was pressed into service to monitor the flight from the Secret Lake Livingston Launch Facility. The receive antenna was effectively a longwire. We had a 20-M dipole in the trees, but signals were best (60 dB over S9) when the coax ground was floating.
Ummmm, THAT was GREAT! I was very impressed this time... BLT-20.5 signals on 3686.4 kHz were rock solid for the whole flight. The NATO-packed, Totex 350-gram balloon from Randy KA5IIA was perfect for the payload weight. Charlie K5ENG made the fill process look trivial. Reception reports from Pete KD5ELH, George W5GFP, and on-site listening efforts were the best yet for a "fireball" payload. My maximum altitude calculations are a bit more conservative than those of Mike WA5TWT. While he shows 86,000 feet, I'll go with 84,000 feet due to an apparent rise rate of 650 feet-per-minute. Do you have a report to file with the BLT? What did you hear? Send info!! By the way, I'll be checking out BLT-21 on August 20th. I'll see you there...
The next event will be BLT-21 featuring NEW cool toys.
Don't Miss It! We're on for August 20, 2005!