MM21 -2019-05-17

Tracker Details

Tracker Type: APRS

Model: PicoTracker1Rev2

Powered by 2 AAA batteries


gpsLockTimeoutMs = 150000 (150s, 2m, 0h)

gpsRetryAfterMs = 10000 (10s, 0m, 0h)

transmitCount = 2

msBetweenTransmits = 3000 (3s, 0m, 0h)

lhAltFtThreshold = 10000

hAlt.wakeAndEvaluateMs = 180000 (180s, 3m, 0h)

lAlt.wakeAndEvaluateMs = 60000 (60s, 1m, 0h)

lAlt.stickyMs = 24000000 (24000s, 400m, 6h)

dz.wakeAndEvaluateMs = 7200000 (7200s, 120m, 2h)

Launch Parameters

Balloon and Payload

  • 28 x 47" Homemade (Fluffy)
  • 28.6 gram payload
  • 2.25 grams free lift


Miles traveled: 22.8

Flight hours: 2.3

Max Altitude feet: 15,325

Cause of death: Tear in material

General Thoughts / Observations

This was the second test flight to see how homemade balloons of different materials perform. This balloon rose to 15,325 feet and began its descent. With some luck, I was able to recover the balloon and examine it. The balloon had a ¼” tear at the edge of a weld, the cause of the tear is unknown.

The balloon reached 15,325 then started descending, it landed a little over an hour later. Since it was nearby, I followed the descending balloon, I actually say it coming down! I parked the car and began looking for the balloon at the Charlotte beach boat ramp, thinking it was 50 to a 100 yards off the beach. After giving up, I was walking back to my car when a reflection caught my eye in the treeline across the bay. I went back to my and got my binoculars, and then confirmed it was the balloon.

As luck had it, there was a kayak rental there, nobody was there but I got their number. I went home and called for a kayak rental, and then prepared for a 11:30 paddle.

After I was there, the lady who was to meet me got into a minor car accident and could not make it for a while. It was high 80s and getting winding so I postponed to 9 am next day.

On Saturday, I arrived a little early to check on the balloon through binoculars, I could not see it. I met Nick at the kayak rental station and we paddled across Alligator Bay to recover the balloon. Nick is an experienced kayaker and was interested in the balloon recover aspect, with this being my first time in a kayak I welcomed the help.

We found the balloon, it was half in the water. The tracker was above the water but was wet due to waves or the tide. Once the balloon was home, I let it dry out then inspected the fill neck and the perimeter weld. I eventually found a small tear.

Thoughts for next time

Make future welds as uniform as possible, try to keep inner sides of welds parallel to the edge of the balloon. Keep pursuing a reliable source of material, keep collecting data on GPS performance.