Monday 21 March 2016

STRATODEAN Four - The 360 Launch

Whilst we were launching STRATODEAN Four last weekend, we had Bethan Rosser, our special reporter on hand documenting the day.  Thank you Bethan for the excellent video!

High Altitude Balloon Launch - March 2016 - Bethan's School Report from Matt Rosser on Vimeo.

We've had some positive results with the 360 video so far, but lots of work still to do.  Stay tuned :)

Saturday 12 March 2016

STRATODEAN Four - A 360 degree journey into near space

Hello, it's been a while!

Saturday 12th March saw our fourth launch from the Forest of Dean. Thanks to all those who helped track, including radio amateurs from over the water in Holland, Belgium, France, Ireland and Isle of Man!

As you know we are "hobby HABers" - a phrase I just completely made up for amateur high altitude balloonists - and because of this our high altitude projects were slightly placed on the back burner for 2015. Usually this is due to general life getting in the way, the price of helium and being busy with the day jobs.

This time round however, it was Mark's day job at BBC Wales that helped us fulfil an aspiration we've had for quite some time - a launch using a 360 degree camera. This exciting new way of broadcasting is still very much in its infancy and the BBC are working to be forerunners in this area. A recent example, a tour of CERN, can be seen on BBC Click. Currently 360 degree videos are best viewed either on computers using the Chrome browser, or on the YouTube app on your mobile device.

We've been planning a balloon flight around this theme for quite sometime but hadn't quite been able to put anything into practice. So late last year when Mark's department at BBC Wales Technology purchased a 360 degree GoPro rig, he was first in line trying to borrow it. Mark successfully negotiated with the BBC Wales Innovation Lounge to form a mini project to launch a HAB testing the 360 camera rig in near space.

So, before anyone could change their mind about launching a precious new piece of equipment into the stratosphere, we leapt into action and volunteered our spare time this weekend to conduct the launch.

We are currently working to stitch all the feeds together and along with the BBC who will also work their magic, we hope to share some footage with you soon.

P.S. We are happy to confirm the rig and all GoPros are healthy and doing well following today's excursion.

Sunday 12 January 2014

Making of Santa Sleigh Test and update for 2014

We were truly blown away with the positive response and media interest that our Santa Sleigh Test video gained. It all happened as a bit of a whirlwind, from turning up on the BBC One O'Clock News  then again on ITV's evening news, to an appearance in the Daily Mail, Metro and Daily Telegraph newspapers and their respective websites. That was just the UK, so far we've also found coverage on websites in Canada, USA, Mexico, France, Germany, Netherlands, India, Venezuela and Australia. You can find one of our personal favourites here, with the bemused presenter slightly struggling with our name. Unbeknownst to us, we've also gone from a two person team to a full on research institution. Crikey.

Artist's impression while 
we were in the planning stages.
Having a trial run, trying to see
what the footage could look like! 
 It's all coming together.

What was great was how kind everyone was about the video, taking it in the manner it was intended - as a bit of festive fun. Finally, thank you to all those who shared in our excitement by getting in touch via email and social media and their positive response.

Getting setup for launch.
As this launch was a bit different to all of our others, we thought we'd create a 'Making Of' video, to explain how we did it and cover the real launch itself.

Santa and Rudolph's journey. 

Plans for 2014

We've got a few potential projects in the pipeline and are busy following up on these, hopefully they'll lead to a productive and fun-filled beginning to 2014! One initial thing on the to do list is a launch with a dedicated 'Balloon Cam' to try and capture how the balloon changes through the flight - from launch to burst. Watch this space for news on STRATODEAN Four!

Monday 16 December 2013

Santa Sleigh Test (STRATODEAN Three)

Here is our slightly silly video for Santa's Sleigh Test (STRATODEAN Three), launched on the 1st December 2013.

Merry Christmas!

The payload was recovered on the outskirts of Yeovil, thanks to all who helped track. 
Full write-up and launch video to follow. 

Sunday 1 December 2013


Thanks to all who helped with today's flight. Santa and Rudolph have been recovered and we've got a lot of footage of their voyage to go through!

We're taking a bit of time to try and put it together into a video, something a bit special ready for Christmas - so please check back soon or follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates.

Ho Ho Go

We're off, for those wishing to follow the journey, track here:;STRATODEANQ_chase

Also we'll be updating Twitter here:

Saturday 30 November 2013

Twas the night before Launch Day...

Final preparations are underway and we are all systems go, ready for our STRATODEAN Three launch at approximately 10:00am tomorrow. Please see here for radio tracking information - if you just want to follow it on a map please see here! You may have noticed that this latest launch has a distinctly festive theme with a few famous faces on board. Therefore we really appreciate all your tracking help, fingers crossed for a successful flight and retrieval! Don't worry - Rudolph is getting an early night.

The wearing of Christmas jumpers whilst tracking STRATODEAN Three, aka Santa Sleigh Test, aka STRATOSanta, is fully encouraged.

Monday 25 November 2013

Santa's pre-Christmas sleigh test

OK so the first planned date of this launch didn't go well after a mix up with the CAA and our approval for launch. This was certainly disappointing, however truth be told we were a little short on time to put all the finishing touches to the payload - so this could be a blessing in disguise. We used the time this weekend instead to make improvements! We have also made the brave decision to tell you all about it before we launch! :)

So it's November 25th and with a month to go, Santa and Rudolf have just been finishing off the modifications to their 2013 sleigh. Like all good engineers, Santa has opted to test the new changes before rolling it out into production and he has come to STRATODEAN for help! (It's been a very well kept secret that we provide technical facilities to all our famous mythical friends. The Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are already well established customers.)

He gave us a clear project remit - for us to take him up and down on our payload to allow him to test the new handling abilities of his sleigh. Apparently the cost of reindeer propulsion (magic flying dust) has skyrocketed in the last few years and he can only justify the once a year purchase for Christmas due to Mrs Clauses' bingo habit and the increasing Elf wages. Furthermore, for this test he can only bring Rudolf as the other reindeer are getting on a bit and they need to save their knees.

We drew up a plan -
STRATODEAN Santa handling test v1
Who else has a whiteboard in their dining room? :p
So the plan is simple, get Santa and Rudolf to the stratosphere, let them test their 2013 sleigh modifications, record the test and finally ensuring they get home safely as they have a job to do in a month - no pressure then!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Potential Launch of STRATODEAN Three this weekend! - POSTPONED

Potential STRATODEAN Three launch this weekend, as always - weather dependant! This will be the first use of our new tracker also.

This launch has a planned festive theme for video coming in December. Ho-Ho-Hope you like it! Trackers always appreciated. Tracking info can be found here.


Unfortunately we have had to postpone this launch. Will update when we can, we'll have more info on Monday.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Team STRATODEAN!

Spooky HAB and friend