AHAB Update

AHAB Update

Update: JonM just posted up his wrapup! – Link


We had 12 people on the ground looking for our high altitude balloon and found a friend to take us up in a Cessna 182 to scan over 100 square miles of farmland.

Here’s a video of the launch! – mov Link

Despite herculean efforts, our balloon is still missing. If you have a plane in the Northwest and are interested in going on the Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt, here’s a map for you to reference. If you can find it, I will personally send you a print from the photos taken by it and presents!


With some help from folks off location in the UK and Seattle, Xander has set up a map with continued search locations. The red target is the centered average of all the predictions. This would be a good place to start an aerial search for a pink foam payload and bright orange parachute.


The box above shows the area we searched from an airplane. Easter may be over, but the Hunt is on!

KML Data with GPS Locations – Link

22 thoughts on “AHAB Update

  1. samurai1200 says:

    So… how rural is that area? I’m on my celly at the moment, otherwise i’d check out google earth… but anywho, if its an urban-to-suburban area, i’m willing to bet someone already scooped the pod up. my hopes are that they didnt, though. i wanna see some pictures!

    best of luck.

  2. Zuhaib says:

    Very interesting, btw where is the link for the wiki and more info on ahab.
    I wanted to get more information on the tracking system, my last job as a Contractor was at Lockheed Martin working on Flight Termination Systems which are tracking systems and wanted to maybe look over and pick on to see what did go wrong =P No really, i was very intrested in the project when it was ran on the podcast but thought it was going to be pretty simple… needless to say, i can see it did not.
    Well good luck, BTW, the best searching vehicle is a helicopter as it is what we have used to search for lost objects. I would come down to search, but San Francisco is pretty far off.

  3. JoeyBob says:

    From the looks of the pictures, that area is pretty darn rural.
    Good luck with the search, I hope to get involved with high altitude ballooning someday.

  4. Dolomite says:

    I’m guessing that you put all your contact info and a brief description that this is a scientific study and if found it should they should contact you right? If so, then I wouldnt worry too much, it will turn up eventually… if not, well… lesson learned, always put your name and info on it… no telling how far this balloon traveled or who has it right now.

  5. ballooney says:

    From the KML file estimated points you’ve got about a square mile playpen that needs thorough scouring. If anyone around there has a quadbike, it’s be good to scan up and down it in 50-100 metre wide strips. Any other info on specifically ground winds would be useful as we’ve often found that over the course of a 3-4hour flight the ground winds can change and make a reasonable difference to the predicted landing sites.

    We (ukhas) lost a glider a couple of weeks back when the radio just died. From now on we’re putting entirely independant (battery, PIC, GPS, radio) black boxes on board all payloads as a back-up if the main goes tits-up. The transmitters we use are only 10mW (had it working up to 200km no problem, not tested it real-world beyond that but with attenuation tests we reckon it’s good for 1000km) and the advantage of that is that when you’re within 2-3 miles of the landing site and scanning with a Yagi, the direction of the yagi makes a very big difference compared to what you’d get with a higher power transmitter, which makes tracking it down easier.

    Like Zuhaib said, it *should* be straightforward (hey, gps, a few sensors, a uController and a radio- what could go wrong?) but reality always throws up suprises! We’ve discovered the hard way that things like cable ties don’t hold up at the -50 degrees celcius temps of high altitude and things like that. It’s all good fun!

    Best of luck guys. We’re rooting for you.


  6. jswilson64 says:

    You could take a cue from high-power rocketeers and mount a recovery beeper in your payload. It’s a loud beeper that (in rocketry) is activated by deploying the chute – this pulls a pin from a jumper, activating the circuit. It beeps every second or so, for many hours.

    Or, there’s always a directional radio beacon. I know people who put those on lizards to track them, so the addition to your payload should/would/could be negligible.

  7. Zuhaib says:

    Well from the little posted it seemed it lost its battery power which took all the tracking down as it was powered by a single battery. So for jswlison, even if there was because it was all powered by a single battery it has a single point of failure. Bad for real projects, but i guess a simple mistake to make for a project. For most real thing, you would put two channels for tracking, each powered by there own battery so even if one battery quits you have the other (and if both fail.. well, pray).

  8. sethapprox says:

    It’s a *big* area. I know a few of the farmers in the area, (Moses Coulee) and there’s a lot of area, and the payload could be lost for a while. There aren’t a lot of roads. I’m trying to put the word out on the local radio station, it’s just too cool to pass up.

  9. Dirkus says:

    Anyone try looking right where the last point plotted by the mologogo phone was? IIRC, the phone had it’s own separate battery. My thought is that since both systems appear to have failed around the same time, the parachute must have failed, and the cargo cratered. The last point recorded for the phone shows an altitude of 10K feet. (much lower than the 60K for the tinytrack) so maybe the APRS updated, the cargo was plumetting, then phone updated, then… KA-BOOM. No signal. Rather negative line of thought, I know, but something to look into. Hopefully the SD cards could survive that!


  10. Dirkus says:

    Whoa… Why does the mologogo phone show such a VASTLY different track? I mean… WAY different. Did I miss something? I bet I missed an important clue here. Damn. I hate when that happens!

  11. ArmChairQB says:

    Hope you folks try a second (technically third) time! I enjoyed seeing this thing come togther. The Wiki was a nice touch. Maybe use multiple ballons? I’m sure folks would be glad to send some donations your way.

    I’m betting a “spherical object (‘not part of the car’) was resting in the highway” when this thing flew over and…

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