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!

1 comment:

  1. Georgia Hathaway1 May 2013 at 03:11

    Finaaaally, I've been waiting all week to see the outcome, haha.
    This is amazing! Congratulations to both of you :)Looking forward to seeing more launches in the near future!