Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Why haven't you launched in 2014??

So this year has been a very busy year for us, however unfortunately for this blog, not for our High Altitude Balloon activities - here’s an update…!

Following our Santa Sleigh Test launch at the end of 2013 and the fantastic response to the subsequent video, we knew that interest in High Altitude Balloon experiments was still as great as ever. We made two presentations at the beginning of this year – one to Worcester Radio Amateurs Association and the other to students at Highgate School in London. Both were fantastic audiences and we were thrilled to be asked. Hopefully we have inspired some people to become interested in the electronics and science behind the hobby!

However this is where a lot of other things took over most of the HAB activities. In between holidays to Australia and Florence, I have progressed to two new jobs and have spent some time working on UKHASnet nodes and a Raspberry Pi IP CCTV Camera. Not forgetting weekends at Glastonbury Festival, the UKHAS Conference and EMF Camp!

This year has seen some fantastic launches from the other members of the HAB community. One that requires a special mention is the B-64 flight from Leo Bodnar which was launched on the 12th July this year and is STILL FLYING now! It has circumnavigated the globe many times and has even had a detour to the North Pole. It is a fantastic achievement and with a flight time record that keeps on getting longer, I think this is going to be a hard one to beat.

So what next? Well, in between the above, we have managed to build, design and test STRATODEAN Four. It’s taken many weeks of work to get to where we are, however, the mission is still under wraps as we hope it will be a ‘first’ of some kind, but that’s all we can say at the moment - Exciting! I guess its stealthy development has also been a factor in the lack of updates! However, all will be revealed as soon as we launch in the coming weeks. Assuming the weather is good, fingers crossed for January!

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

STRATOSanta

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:
http://spacenear.us/tracker/?filter=SD3;STRATODEANQ_chase

Also we'll be updating Twitter here: twitter.com/stratodean

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.

Update:

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!

STRATODEAN Pumpkin
Spooky HAB and friend

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Our photos - Helping the community

A few months ago we were asked if it was OK to use some of our overhead photographs of the Forest of Dean from our first launch. The request came from Design and Purpose who had been tasked with creating the literature and promotional material for the Berry Hill, Five Acres and Christchurch Neighbourhood Development Plan. This is an important document that is being put together by members of the community in order to have their say with what happens to the local schools, college and leisure centre amongst other things such as future housing development. It was great to get involved and we think the end results look impressive! If anyone else in the Forest of Dean area has any other project ideas or proposals, please get in touch!
STRATODEAN Berry Hill, Five Acres and Christchurch Neighbourhood Development Plan
Berry Hill, Five Acres and Christchurch Neighbourhood Development Plan