Well – what a frantic few days it has been… I’ll give a brief run through as the payload still need completing!

Wednesday afternoon: I was on the IRC and David Akerman (daveake) posted a link for the prediction for his launch this Saturday. It looked like a good prediction, so I decided to run one from my launch site; no intention at this stage to launch. It turned out to be a great prediction, actually landing in this country (the previous weeks had been landing in France or beyond!). There were two big issues at this point: 1) The payload wasn’t even completed and there were still some nasty bugs present in the code. 2) I didn’t have permission to launch.

After a quick call to the CAA I managed to obtain permission for this weekend (4th/5th Feb) – many thanks to David Miller at the CAA for getting this sorted in such short notice. As of yesterday evening, I now have permission to launch. The next big hurdle was getting the payload completed on time. Despite the huge number of hours I had put in the past 2 weeks, it still wasn’t stable – albeit a rather buggy beta version.

Over the last day and a bit I’ve fixed all the bugs I can see and built most of the payload stuff. Yesterday I ran a full systems check and everything worked apart from the camera – oh no, not this again… (you’ll probably remember that HABE1 was plagued by complete camera failure). This however, wasn’t linked to the HABE1 bug. Initially I thought it was a software issue as I’m running a modified version of CHDK that allows me to switch between photos and video (risky, I know..). However, it appears to be it was actually a failure of the alkaline batteries due to the cold temps outside. This meant I only got around 100 photos (only the 1st 30mins of flight) before the batteries conked out. For the flight I will be using lithiums which have a much better tolerance to cold temperatures thankfully… As I’m writing this the camera is outside with lithiums in running a final check. If it’s all positive then it gets the clearance to fly from me!

Lastly, I’ve just finished soldering all the solar panel logging equip up; I just need to pop the flight board in and solder up all the antennas (not an easy job at all). After – final checks, then time to pack the car for tomorrow.

The current prediction is ok – not great – but ok. I’ll be monitoring this throughout the day and tomorrow morning.

What’s new/updated on HABE2:

  • Software rewrite – this has resulted in a fair few bugs as I didn’t test as I was going along (mistake), though it’s resulted in a more efficient and readable software
  • Swapped old temperature sensors out for newer high precision ones
  • Uplink is present – simply to test range (let me add at this point I’m not expecting great range)
  • Camera now takes video as well as photos
  • “Black box” present on the flight – SD card logging system should log everything for review after the flight
  • Cutdown module – this can be activated via uplink and is automated by the flight computer should the payload stray outside a “safe” area
  • Solar panels – 2 high performance small solar panels present; I’ll be logging data using two different loads.

Launch details:

  • Launch site: Ombersley, Worcester.
  • Estimated time of launch: 11am GMT (setting up around 10am)
  • Flight time: approx 2.5hrs
  • Check here, twitter (@adamcudworth) or the IRC for the most up to date information regarding the launch. If you would like to come along to the launch please drop me a line either by email or the IRC (#highaltitude and my nickname: cuddykid).
  • Track the balloon live during the flight here
  • I would really appreciated any help – whether it’s turning up to help out with setup/launch, or helping track by listening in – thanks!

Hopefully the launch will be underway within 24hours! Over and out…

For the most up to date info during the launch, check the live tracker, my twitter or the IRC (#highaltitude).