Rocky Mountain Ham Radio (RMHAM) launched a “pico-balloon” from Albuquerque this morning in conjunction with today’s New Mexico TechFest event.
A pico-balloon is a 3 foot mylar party balloon, filled partially with ultra-pure helium, and carrying a 13 gram solar-powered APRS transmitter. The balloon is intended to travel for long distances (not to achieve heights) and are not intended to be recovered. These balloons have literally circumnavigated the globe — even multiple times — before finally going down.
Since being launched from Albuquerque just before 8:30AM MST this morning, it is currently cruising between Springer and Clayton, New Mexico at an altitude of 26,000 feet at nearly 120 MPH. It beacons on APRS every 2 minutes, and will continue to beacon for as long as the sun is hitting its solar panels (or until the balloon descends naturally or due to weather). It is expected to fly at least to Maine and will likely continue flying further eastward as winds allow.
If you’d like to track the progress of the RMHAM pico-balloon yourself, check out either of these websites:
RMHAM plans to conduct at least two more launches from the Albuquerque this spring/summer. COVID permitting, we will invite interested amateur radio operators to participate in the launch in-person. One of these launches will carry a 15 gram 20-meter HF WSPR payload which will allow tracking while the balloon is over oceans (where VHF APRS digis are not).
For more information about Rocky Mountain Ham Radio and the TechFest event that is currently in progress, please visit https://www.rmham.org