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

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

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Second GPS Tracker

When we started the project last year, the aim was always to get that infamous picture of the Earth’s blue haze and to say that we put something into near space – at the time, the method and technology was thought of as a means to an end. It didn’t really matter ‘that much’ how we did it, just that we did. However as we got more into the project and, after the second launch had issues with getting GPS lock, I decided it was time to improve the GPS tracker and make it ‘my own’. Using the prebuilt breakout boards and the Arduino Uno was definitely the way to go when we started out with personal electronic devices – it meant that the harder, unfamiliar electronics work had been done already. Therefore it was just a case of programming, based on the sample code, in order to get it working. I was, and still am, really proud of the first tracker, but I knew there were definitely areas that could be improved:
  • It was comparatively quite big and heavy, which ultimately meant that we needed more space and helium to take it up.
  • It took too many batteries to power it.
  • It was very much a ‘prototype’, where the components were soldered on to strip board – not always the most reliable method.
  • It was not very robust – we were always scared of dropping it – or it breaking on landing.
After speaking to a few guys on the #HighAltitude IRC channel, it became apparent that the best (and most fun) way of creating a new tracker would be to design my own in CAD and have my own circuit board created… so that’s what I did!

Designing the new tracker

The first thing I needed to do is work out what I wanted to achieve with the new tracker. If you aren't familiar with our first tracker, have a look here. I identified a few key areas:
  • Must be under 100g.
  • 3 or less AA batteries.
  • Look a lot more ‘professional (!)’.
  • Be a lot more robust.
  • Future-proof – with the ability to add additional features at a later stage.
STRATODEAN Designing the layout in Eagle CAD
Designing the layout in Eagle CAD
The second thing was – how do I build it!? It was at this point I managed to get some really helpful hints and tips from Chris Stubbs on IRC (chrisstubbs) on using the Eagle CAD software, and ensuring that my circuit would work! Chris has produced some really good tutorial videos on how to use Eagle – you can see them here and here.

The idea of Eagle is first to create a schematic. This is basically the circuit in block form, showing the logical connections and providing an overview of what is joined to what. Once you are happy with your schematic, you then move into the physical ‘view’ where you can then decide where on the finished circuit board the components will end up. Having not done this before, I found it quite time consuming but really enjoyable to work towards a finished board.

It was at this time that I had to make a decision on the form-factor of the components. On the first tracker I used ‘hole-through’ components – those that you have to poke through the board and solder on the other side. My third requirement above however, said that the new board needs to look more professional – so for this reason I decided that the best (and more challenging) way would be to use ‘surface-mount’ components. These, as their name describes, are soldered directly onto the surface of the circuit board and give that ‘made by a machine’ look. I knew this would test my soldering skills but I just went for it.

Circuit and components

Because prototyping on a breadboard has been known to introduce more problems than there would actually be, I took some advice and decided to create the board, have it checked and then hope it would work when I soldered it – a little risky but it had worked for others before, so I hoped for the same! I already knew I would be getting the boards from Hackvana for a very reasonable price, so it was a risk I was willing to take if I had to change the board because of some unfixable problem.

STRATODEAN Main components of new tracker
Main components of tracker
This circuit is designed to run off a minimum of 3AA batteries, but can run up to 6+ (if the additional external components require it). It does this by using the LP2992 voltage regulator, which takes any input voltage between 4v and 16v and outputs 3.3v. There is an error with the above diagram. I had mistakenly connected the bypass directly to ground, instead of through a capacitor to ground. Initially this was giving an output of half the expected voltage and took a little while to debug. The resolution was to simply disconnect the bypass altogether from the circuit, by cutting the leg off the regulator.

I decided to stick with the same microcontroller as in the first tracker, the ATMega328. This was because I was already familiar with this way of working and coding, so wouldn’t have to relearn this element. The other key components were also familiar – the same NTX2 model as before and the uBlox GPS chip, although this time using the upgraded Max7C which promised better power consumption. The GPS antenna also remained the same Sarantel brand as before, though this time a different model than was found on the previous breakout board. I later learned that Sarantel have gone into administration (at the time of writing), so I guess stocks of this antenna will soon diminish – will have to keep an eye on this. The same one-wire DS18B20 temperature sensors were included, I mounted one directly on the board and ensured I had a connection for the same external probe as on our second launch. Finally I included a micro-SD card reader to record our data as before.
For our next launches, we wanted some way of moving the camera or an object in near space. To do this I have made previsions to allow for a servo to be connected, with the power being delivered through a MOSFET to allow us to turn it on and off to save power.

Olimex ISP-500 AVR
Olimex ISP-500 AVR
When creating the first tracker, the interface with the computer I was using to program this was very straightforward – the USB lead from the Arduino Uno. In order to program this new board, I had to implement a different method – ‘In-Circuit Serial Programming’ – ICSP. For this to work, I purchased an Olimex ISP-500 AVR programmer from eBay, which would work in conjunction with the ICSP header on the board. One tip for the capacitors and resistors is to buy a sample book, which has every value you need – I got my one from eBay, posted from China. After a little configuring, programming the board was done in much the same way as before.

Soldering the new board

New boards!
Once I had received the fantastic new boards from Hackvana, it was then necessary to start soldering. The components were either ordered as manufacturer samples, or from eBay and HAB Supplies. I had done a fair bit of soldering in the past but never SMD. To research and get some knowledge on how to do this, I looked at these YouTube tutorials. As long as you have the right tools (small soldering head, small gauge solder, tweezers and flux) and take your time, soldering SMD components is a somewhat satisfying experience!

New code

The code from the first tracker was not ideal, it did the job but was not very refined and I knew many improvements could be made. I decided that if I was making new hardware, then the software would get the same attention. The main thing to improve with the first tracker was the fact that it was doing everything sequentially – looking for a GPS position, processing it, sending it over the radio, repeat. After some research I and talking with some people on IRC, the concept of ‘Interrupts’ was brought to my attention – they are fantastic! The idea is that you can set up a scenario where two portions of the code can be run at the same time. To do this you create your main repeating chunk of code in the loop, but at the same set up ‘timers’ which then ‘interrupt’ the main flow of code to process some other code, while continuing with the main flow. For our purposes, the GPS data receive and processing is the main body, while the radio transmission is our interrupt element. This has improved the reliability of the code no-end and I really do recommend trying to use interrupts instead of the delay code. You can see the basic working GPS and radio code on my Github code repository.

The finished tracker

STRATODEAN Second Tracker
The New Tracker
So here it is - I hope you agree it looks a lot more professional than the first one! We are very proud of this new tracker and can't wait to launch it.  It is 100g lighter than the first one and runs off 3 AA batteries so saving both weight and power. I have connections on the left for power, external temperature and two servos if required. Also included is the micro SD card. I haven't gone into too many technical details here, but if you do want to find out more, please drop us an email

We look forward to flying it soon!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The International UKHAS Conference 2013

This weekend saw the annual UKHAS Conference, which is now in its third year. For us personally, it was our first UKHAS event and we were really looking forward to putting faces to names and in some cases putting chat names/callsigns to names and then to faces! It was also slightly bizarre thinking that this time last year we hadn't even began our HAB experience yet. The day was a great time to fully appreciate just how strong the UKHAS community is. 

This year's venue was the University of Greenwich - very swish.
Train selfie. 
You can view the day's timetable here. The talks and presentations certainly didn't disappoint with a good range of topics for all levels, from James Coxon's visit back to the early HAB projects to Matt Brezja's in-depth discussion on Forward Error Correction. The BATC filmed and uploaded the presentations, therefore you can view the videos on their website here; simply select the 'HAB 2013' category and the desired stream from the drop down menus.

It was really great to learn that some people present were new enthusiasts just beginning to embark on their own projects. Even one or two who had been introduced to high altitude ballooning by tracking one of our launches. Thanks to them for saying hi and letting us know!

Some of the other projects on show outside of the organised talks included Chris Stubbs' camera, programmed to send jpegs wirelessly over SSDV without the need for a separate microcontroller.

Chris Stubbs with his modified camera.
GPS workshop - finger courtesy of Ed Moore.
All in all, thanks to all those involved with this year's conference, it was great to meet everyone in person and we look forward to returning next year. 

A STRATODEAN Three and Four update is on the way, watch this space!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

AMSAT-UK Presentation

Last Saturday we were invited to present at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium in Guildford. We had a fantastic day, starting out with a brilliant tour around the Surrey Space Centre. Who knew the UK was so advanced in space satellite technology!? Very impressive stuff - wish I lived closer (any job offers welcome ;)).

AMSAT-UK, for those who aren't familiar, is the UK arm of the worldwide AMSAT organisation who specialise in radio amateur satellites. The great group of guys (and ladies) there use their radio knowledge to either build satellites that get launched with other rockets and payloads, or use their equipment at home to track them.

We were asked if we would like to present at the Colloquium and after some initial worries, we decided to go for it! We knew it would be a tight schedule in terms of preparation, because of the house move - but it was such a amazing opportunity to meet experts and dedicated specialists from across the world.

We were so glad when the actual presentation was well received and thanks to all those at AMSAT who were very kind and welcoming. The presentation was aimed at all audiences so we included as much of a range as we could, covering the basics as well as getting in some project background, coding, payload construction, tracking information and an insight into recovery (inc. the sheep from STRATODEAN Two)! It was quite the task trying to pitch it right but hopefully there's something to interest everyone.

The weekend included a full programme of presentations and talks by representatives of the British Interplanetary Society, UK Space Agency and European Space Agency, to name but a few. Please find information and the videos provided by the British Amateur Television Club (BATC) here.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Admittedly all has been slightly quiet on the blog front but we don't want you thinking we've been resting on our laurels! Instead we've been busy planning STRATODEAN Three, so here's a sneaky peak of the custom circuit board we've designed and had made.

Early aims/ideas for STRATODEAN Three include a upwards facing camera to capture the moment of balloon burst and the inclusion of rotating servos.

A lot of time has also been taken up with a STRATODEAN HQ move. That's right, we have a new abode complete with faster internet - yippee! On the right is a photo of Mark putting up some curtains to act as proof of the move.

We're also very excited to be speaking at this weekend's AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium, further information can be found here. To anyone attending the talk but visiting our blog ahead of the day:

"Hello! Hope you find our project interesting but no watching our STRATODEAN Two video as we'll be showing it on Saturday!"

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Here's our video of STRATODEAN Two - don't forget to view in HD and that you can pause the video if you see something interesting! The photos are at the bottom of this page.

Saturday afternoon saw the launch of our second high altitude balloon. There was less build up for this one and to be frank we weren't initially planning on launching again so quickly, but an opportunity presented itself and we just decided to go for it.

We decided so quickly, we almost surprised ourselves. There were a few factors which played a part:
  • we were still in possession of a half full jumbo tank of helium just begging to be used
  • the nice man at the CAA had given us approval and it would be rude not to use it
  • that GoPro video camera lens fogging incident first time round was rather annoying and we still felt like we could get better images and video
  • the launch predictor was showing an unusual flight path doubling over our hometown and then making its way over the picturesque Brecon Beacons
  • family members who were unable to make the first launch wanted a repeat so they could see a bit of the action
So low and behold, we found ourselves at the local recreational ground once more, ready for launch. You can read a little more about the amendments we made to our payload and tracker here, everything thing else pretty much stayed the same.

Our launch preparations were delayed slightly by a slight tracker hiccup; it was connecting to the GPS and uploading our location correctly but the signal was unreliable, dropping in and out. We didn't want to risk launching without a firm satellite fix so this set us back around 40 minutes.

As you will see, it wasn't exactly clear, blue skies but due to this we actually managed to capture some interesting cloud formations.

STRATODEAN Two Sitting down on the job
What's this, sitting down on the job?!
STRATODEAN Two Walking out to launch
All systems go! Walking out to launch.
STRATODEAN Two between cloud layers
Sandwiched between two cloud layers.
You can view our flight path below. Whereas our STRATODEAN One chase primarily featured worrying about how we forgot to attach our contact details label to the payload, this time round it was characterised by a distinct lack of mobile phone signal. 

STRATODEAN Two Flight Path
STRATODEAN Two Flight Path
We said hello (and swiftly goodbye) to 3G around the Abergavenny area and from that point on only had normal mobile phone signal at intermittent intervals. Our three networks (O2, Vodafone and Virgin) all failed us! Whilst we remained in good contact with the tracker and were consistenly receiving altitude and location data,  our lack of 3G meant we just weren't able to decipher these coordinates. This meant having to rely on good old-fashioned map books and calling friends with Wi-Fi back at home. Turns out spelling the names of remote Welsh areas on a crackling phone line is more difficult that you think, two of our favourites were: Coed Aberllechach and Llanddeusant.

Apologies to all for our lack of contact on the UKHAS chat and Twitter - believe us it was very frustrating! While we were struggling for any type of signal, our colleagues in Chase Car Mini had 3G (lucky duckies!) and were quite happily tracking away using their network of choice '3'. Their tracking ability ended when the HAB tracking community lost contact due to the mountains breaking their line-of-sight at approx. 2500 feet. Shortly after the payload had landed, when we miraculously had signal, we managed to rendez-vous with Chase Car Mini and use their 3G to look up our up-to-date GPS coordinates from our SDR receiver. It had landed in a field of sheep, conveniently right next to the road and only two minutes away.

We recovered the payload approx. 15 minutes after landing. As the location was so open and accessible, with better 3G infrastructure we think we would have actually been very close to being able to watch it land! The dream of catching the payload (or more realistically, being hit on the head by it) as it falls from the Earth's atmosphere lives on...

Locals are unimpressed with our parachute.
Team high five - Cassie putting in a little more effort than Mark.
We have picked out some of our favourite photos from the on-board still camera below. Be sure to check out more in our album at the bottom of the page. As well as the Earth, there's some nice pics of the Brecon Beacons, a reservoir and even some sheep. Yippee. We were a lot happier with these images and with the side-mounted camera picking up the curvature of the Earth.

Camera pointing south, the two bodies of water
are the Bristol Channel and English Channel.
Nice sunny day up here! Our sensors showed that the temperature dropped to its lowest -31C at 11000m and then rose again to 6C at time of burst. 

Aeroplane trails crisscrossing into the clouds.
This area is the primary flight path from Heathrow to the USA.
That little white dot is the Moon.

As mentioned above, one of the driving factors for a quick second launch was the misting up of our GoPro camera first time round. The below pictures are a clear example of the difference made by removing the plastic protection over the lens, which prevented any condensation forming. We were much happier with the improved colour definition and image quality.

Still from our STRATODEAN One GoPro Video.
Still from our STRATODEAN Two GoPro Video.

What we learnt this time round:
  • For all future launches, '3' is the dongle network of choice
  • Clouds are interesting
A special thank you to Matt, our official Team STRATODEAN photographer for the day.

No, the cameras aren't all his.
Canon, if you're reading this - please sponsor us with a super duper lens. Cheers.
Job done.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Our second launch tomorrow!

A very quick post today confirming we are preparing for a launch tomorrow afternoon - although as always, weather permitting!

As a quick summary we've:
  • Added two temperature sensors to monitor the changes both inside and outside the payload. 
  • Installed the still camera (previously used pointing downwards) into a side position for more horizon photos.
  • Removed the lens cover from the GoPro camera so as to hopefully avoid the fogging as seen on the first video.
This launch follows quick on the heels of our first as we are still within our balloon helium hire and are able to use our original spare balloon. The weather predictions have been prohibitive until very recently so we want to pounce while the opportunity is there.  

Any assistance with tracking would be much appreciated by fellow HABers. Tracking details can be found on the UKHAS site. It's looking like a potentially interesting recovery in the Brecon Beacons (hiking boots at the ready!).

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

STRATODEAN One Follow-up and Future Plans

As promised, here are some of the stats and data we've gathered from STRATODEAN One. We launched on Sunday 21st April at 10:14am from our local rec in Coleford.

We listed our flight on the UKHAS Google Group in the few weeks prior to launch so we had lots of people willing to help track. See below for a break down - thanks to all those mentioned!

People tracking our payload

We were forced to stop our own in-car tracking to save the laptop battery (in-car changer blew a fuse!) so your help was essential for us to keep an eye on the balloon trajectory and predicted landing site.

STRATODEAN Signal being received
Signal being received
Some of the most positive feedback from our flight was that the signal did not drift off frequency. In real terms this means that our radio transmitter kept very close to the advertised 434.650MHz and was not adversely affected by temperature. This also meant that tracking was easier as radios did not have to continually be retuned.  We received a nice email from new 'HABer' Martin Rigby who was kind enough to show us a screen shot of the signal as received by his radio in Penrith, Cumbria. You can see that the RTTY lines are fairly straight.

We also had an email from fellow HABer Geoff Mather who was able to create this interactive flight movie in Google Earth based on the telemetry that we had been transmitting. Thank you Geoff!

The raw telemetry that was saved onto the SD card from the transmitter can be seen here.

Since the launch we have put things on the back burner for a week, just to reflect on what we have achieved and to think about a few other (non-space!) ideas. However, it's now time to start resetting ourselves and the project and working out what we can do better for STRATODEAN Two!

In our second launch we'd like to do a few things differently. The first launch was a success but there are some improvements to be made. Firstly we aren't entirely happy with our video quality when the payload reached the stratosphere. We included the GoPro anti-fog inserts thinking that this would help us avoid the misting in our videos, however we now know this caused the exact opposite to happen. The waterproof case let air out but did not let air in, so a vacuum formed inside. As we all remember from our science lessons(!), water boils at a much lower temperature inside a vacuum, so inside our case, the moisture that had been collected by the anti-fog inserts started to boil and then condensed on to the coldest part of the case - the lens cover pointing out into space!  To remedy this we are simply going to fly without inserts or a lens cover and have holes in the case so that no vacuum can form.

We had no idea from the first launch how hot/cold it was up there, so another thing that we have acquired are temperature sensors that we can wire into our flight tracker so that it will record these values for us.

Finally, something we are trying to research for next time is adding time, velocity and altitude data to our flight videos - currently a work in progress trying to find the best software. We had people comment on the video 'how high are we now' at certain points, so it would be nice to have a little 'Head-Up Display' on the video to display this data.

We have applied for CAA approval and extended our helium rental so it's just a case of completing our upgrades and waiting for good weather!

Monday, 29 April 2013


Here's our video of STRATODEAN One - don't forget to view in HD! The photos are at the bottom of this page.

STRATODEAN Go for launch
Go for launch
After six months of planning, one abandoned launch due to weather conditions and a borderline traumatising GPS tracker 'butterfingers' incident, Sunday 21st April saw the launch of our first payload, conveniently named STRATODEAN One. Despite rather a rather pessimistic weather forecast predicting cloud, cloud and more cloud, Team STRATODEAN remained hopeful. As long as the launch prediction and wind conditions were sensible, we were going for it.
The first look out the window at 7:00am revealed a decent bit of blue
sky and the conditions were good so we were all systems go.

Our launch strategy delegated balloon filling over to Mark's Dad and brother, while we were based in Launch HQ (which may look suspiciously like a patio table with a laptop on).

Launch HQ.
STRATODEAN Balloon with custom made filling device!
Balloon with custom made filling device!
STRATODEAN Payload preparations
Payload preparations.
STRATODEAN Everything in its place, including a sneaky photo
Everything in its place, including a sneaky photo.
Over 30 close family and friends came out to watch, which meant we had plenty of young volunteers when it came to the launch. A big thank you to those who came out to support us!

STRATODEAN Nearly time for launch!
Nearly time for launch!
STRATODEAN A shady bunch
A shady bunch.
STRATODEAN Cakes for the punters
Cake for the punters.
STRATODEAN Holding on tight
Holding on tight.

STRATODEAN One launched just before 10.15am from Coleford, Gloucestershire and landed approximately 2.5 hours later, over 100 miles away, in a field outside of Milton Keynes. Our payload, or as one kind gentleman generously referred to it as, our "spacecraft" reached a maximum altitude of 32,127m (105,000 feet) and was tracked by 43 different receivers scattered across the UK and Europe while on its journey. We will follow this post with another detailing some more technical facts and figures.

Lift off!
What went well:
  • Many people tracking commented on the strong, clear signal which was great news, therefore we were happy with the quality of our aerial.
  • We were pleased with the photos from the Canon camera and that we managed to capture lots of aerial photos of our local area (see album at bottom of page).
  • Great launch day atmosphere.
  • The ascent and decent rates were as predicted.  
STRATODEAN Payload recovered
Payload recovered.
STRATODEAN Tracker and camera
The tracker and camera still going strong!
As always, there have been lessons learnt and things we'd change for the future. Room for improvement:
  • Despite (and in fact due to) using anti-fog inserts, condensation formed within the GoPro casing, clouding the lens. For future launches, we will consider launching the GoPro without the protective case.
  • Now that we have a lot of downward-facing photos, next time we could use two side-mounted cameras.
  • Use some black tape around the GoPro-shaped tapered hole in our payload box. Some of the footage taken into direct sunlight had a blue haze due to light reflecting from the polystyrene into the lens.
  • We could have packed up our equipment and left the launch site a little quicker to begin the chase. 
  • Check all cameras (on the ground and up in the air) are set to film at the same frame rate!
  • Ideally, we would not have forgotten to attach our contact details and information label onto the box!
  • It was noted by some trackers that they were losing the beginnings of our early transmissions. To remedy this, we should remove the 1000ms gap between transmissions.
  • The backup tracker did not work at all! Will need to investigate this and decide whether it is worth including next time.
Take a look at our STRATODEAN One Launch video at the top of this page and our Payload Camera album below. Let us know if you can see your house!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

We made the paper - again!

STRATODEAN Forest Citizen
Our follow up article in the Forest Citizen.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

We did it!

So today we launched and recovered our first ever high altitude balloon with payload! We have hundreds of photos and a few hours of videos to get through and process, but we thought we'd share with you the first few good ones!

Thank you very much to all that came to watch and support the launch and to our families who have helped and supported us so much during planning, launch and recovery. Also thank you to the guys at UKHAS for your help and advice. We had people all over the UK helping us track and even further afield in France, Belgium and Holland!

STRATODEAN Mark Ireland Cassie Phelps Balloon
Before the Launch!
We had some helpers! 
Our hometown - Coleford, Gloucestershire.
Five Acres, Coleford.
STRATODEAN Stratosphere
We made it to the stratosphere! 
STRATODEAN Housing estate
The housing estate we just missed before landing!
This is how we found it!