Products

High Altitude Weather Balloon Launch and Preparation Checklist

High Altitude Weather Balloon Launch and Preparation Checklist

The key to any successful HAB launch? Successful planning! Because of the huge number of variables in any given launch, many amateur (and veteran) launches do not go perfectly according to plan. However, with the proper planning, you can reduce the uncertainty and increase the probability of a successful launch.

Our preparation and launch checklists are free to download.

High Altitude Balloon Bill of Material (HAB BOM)

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During the last year of work on this project we have developed what we feel to be a reliable and low cost spacecraft for High Altitude Balloon projects.  In keeping with our mission, we decided to open-source the design of our “Dogeship-Class” spacecraft for anybody looking to get into this hobby but doesn't quite know what to purchase for their first launch.  This has been a great machine to learn with and has enough room for experiments while still being very portable and flyable.  This BOM, combined with our HAB User Guide, should get you started!Additionally, we are very open to feedback on this design - seasoned veterans, we want to hear from you!

The links provided in the BOM are all to Amazon.com and use the 'Amazon Affiliate' program.  If you decide to purchase some or all of this Bill of Materials we ask that you use the below links.  You will pay the same price you would normally, but we get a small percentage of Amazon's normal fee (around 4%) as a referral bonus.  Any proceeds from this get re-invested in new open-source material, new HAB experiments, and new spacecraft designs!

Base Spacecraft Requirements (~$110)


Payload Housing (Styrofoam Cooler)

$9

One Required

This comes as a 2-pack, we couldn’t find a single for sale at a reasonable price


Hand Warmers

$9

We used a single warmer last launch which seemed to work fine.  Two on prior launches. [Update Aug 2016: we actually don't use any hand warmers on well-sealed launches now that use a GoPro. The electronics are sufficiently self-heating, as long as they are not in the direct air-stream on ascent and descent] 


Long Zip Ties

$12

Two Required

Key is 36” long zip ties.  This is how we attach parachute and hold everything together.


Short Zip Ties

$7

These can also be gotten at Dollar Tree for $1


Fishing Line

$7

40 feet required

Legally must be 50 pounds or less, we use 40 pound line (the force it breaks at).

40 foot line means if parachute gets snagged in tree the payload should be dangling near the ground


Battery Booster, 5600 mAh

$12

Any USB battery backup will work, we used this on our last flight.  This can run our cameras and TM for >6 hours


24” Nylon Parachute

OR

Top Flight 24” Parachute (PAR-24)

$12

If you have the time we highly recommend checking out the Top Flight parachutes from our friends at

http://topflightrecoveryllc.homestead.com/

 Their parachutes are very high quality!


USB Cable 2-Way Splitter

$4

Splits power from the USB battery to two micro-USB plugs


Kaymont Weather Balloon

>$35 + ship

Kaymont 350 ($35) or larger


Ground Equipment Recommendations

Quick-Launch Inflation System

$60

We developed this after our first launch was a nightmare.  Since we started using it we essentially unpack and launch because of this tool.  We highly recommend this as it makes everything a lot easier pre-launch.  Proceeds go to more research and open-source material


Payload Recommendations

RioRand RS4000 Action Camera

$53

Note: The RioRand is a 720p video.  We recommend a

32GB memory card

for this.

Recommend GoPro for proper 1080p or 4k resolution and/or a still camera for high resolution still photos

GoPro HERO+ (Wi-Fi Enabled)

$175

Recommend GoPro for proper 1080p or 4k resolution and/or a still camera for high resolution still photos.

Used Canon Camera from eBay

$25

Find a used Canon from eBay -we have used the SD780IS.  Make sure to get the appropriate memory card for your camera.

Install Canon Hack Development Kit and run the intervalometer to take periodic images


Telemetry Recommendations (more info here)

HUAWEI Fusion 2 U8665 Tracking Cell phone

$50

NOTE:  A used GSM or CDMA android phone will work fine as well.  Our software (soon to be open-sourced) does require Android version 4.2 or lower (critical function is disabled without root above 4.2)

SIM Card for Ting

or

https://ting.com/shop/gsmSIM

$9

Ting GSM SIM card - No contract, Universal SIM, Nationwide coverage, Only pay for what you use.  We have used Ting for all four launches and have been very happy with their service.  We typically use around 200 texts for a launch, so the price comes to around $13 including taxes.


8GB Memory Card

$8

Memory Card to store Flight Data Recorder file.  Our TM code presently requires a memory card to run.  More details in a future post.

NOTE:  Our cell phone TM system has only flown a few times.  While we are confident in it, if your payload is something you cannot afford to lose we recommend getting a SPOT satellite tracker for telemetry.

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We recommend not cutting a hole (such as this picture) in the Styrofoam that goes completely to the inside of the cooler unless you have prior experience or testing to know that your internal electronics won't freeze.

We hope that you find this BOM useful and inspires you to perform your first launch!  Again, we welcome feedback from any veterans as we work to make our design less complex, more efficient and less expensive.

Disclaimer, Amazon makes us put this here:

Launch with Us is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Free Step-by-Step Instruction Guide for HAB Launches

It is with great pleasure that we are able to offer our first contribution to the High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Community: our HAB Launch Step-by-Step User guide! Subscribe to our mailing list here to Download your FREE High Altitude Balloon (HAB) user guide

The download is completely Free, and we are open to any and all feedback to make this a more useful resource for fellow HAB enthusiasts. All that we ask to download the free user guide is that you sign up for our mailing list.

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This user guide takes all of our knowledge and lessons from over four launches in the past year and compiles the information in a clear, easy to read format that we are hoping will help many others reach near-space as we have!

In the future, we intend to use the mailing list to contact HAB enthusiasts  to get feedback on our user guide and other services, as well as to provide updates on our launches, free services and helpful information, and future products.

We hope that someday our tools and material will allow weather balloon launches to be accessible to anybody, regardless of background. Our approach is to allow people to use a low cost tracker with minimal time invested, and not require that anyone has a HAM radio license or in-depth technical background.

What am I signing up for by joining this mailing list?

This HAB mailing list is planned to be used for the following purposes:

1) Get in touch with the users of the Instruction Manual to be able to solicit feedback and improve it for future HAB enthusiasts

2) To share news about new releases of the User Guide, our planned open-source tracking software, and other free references for anyone looking to learn more about HAB launches

3) To send information, to those interested, about some of our hardware offerings that were developed (Quick Launch System) that we found simplified the launch process

For mailing frequency, we have not yet determined what the community would find most useful, but we do not foresee anything more often than once a week, and it is likely much less than that (our blog and Twitter are planned to be used for more frequent updates).

Request: If there is anything else that people would like to hear about via our mailing list, we would love the feedback so that this list will add value and we can make near-space more accessible to everyone!

Our promise: Your information will not be shared with any other parties and you will only receive HAB-related updates on a periodic basis from us.

Quick Launch Inflation System for High Altitude Balloons

Assembly Includes:

  • CGA-580 regulator to adapt to standard Helium tanks
  • 25 ft. High-Pressure Hose
  • Quick-Detach Hose Adapter
  • Quick-Detach Balloon Adapter and Fill Nozzle (for 3cm Neck balloons)

Benefits:

  • All the parts required to attach to a CGA-580 helium tank and fill your balloon!
  • Lightweight and durable design
  • Saves time and hassle during the fill process
  • Quick-disconnect feature for measuring Nozzle Lift during filling to confirm accurate helium volume and lift
  • Nozzle easily adapts to balloon during filling
  • 25' Long Hose Allows balloon and helium tank to be separated during filling
  • Provides a quick attachment point for the Payload Attachment Line (P.A.L.) [COMING SOON] - No knot tying or zip-ties required!
  • Flight-tested to be rugged and safe

Specifications:

  • CGA-580 Regulator for Safely Attaching to Helium Tank (Warning: Never use a helium tank to fill a weather balloon without a gas regulator. The gas coming out of the tank can be in excess of 2000psi, even if you "only" crack the valve open a little)
  • Pressure-Rated 25'L Hose and Fittings
  • 40-75CFM maximum fill rate (We do not recommend filling at maximum flow)
  • Designed for 3 cm (up to 1500g Kaymont/Totex balloons) or 5 cm (2000g and 3000g Kaymont/Totex balloons) throat diameter balloons

Product Description:

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Finding a regulator that has the correct attachments required can be an issue (and expensive), and by the time that you have purchased all the required regulators, hoses, fittings, and adapters from various sources, you have invested a substantial investment of your precious time and money to piece something together that you hope works, based on some article that you read online. Not to mention that after you have all the pieces you need, you still have the hassle of attaching the balloon to the fill device, disconnecting and re-attaching it several times to obtain accurate Nozzle lift measurements during fill, and finally tying off the balloon throat in a safe way that won't leak and won't risk a premature burst at a low altitude. Sound familiar?

Filling up your weather balloon can be one of the most time consuming and expensive steps in the entire high altitude balloon launching process...but it doesn't have to be!

With the Quick Launch Inflation System, you receive all the pieces you need to make the weather balloon inflation and launching process a SNAP - literally! With built-in snap quick-disconnect adapters, you can easily snap your balloon on and off the inflation nozzle during filling, and quickly attach it to the Space-P.A.L. (Payload Attachment Line) to reduce the time to launch, as well as remove room for error with tying knots, attaching zip-ties or tape, and tying off the balloon.

Available standard for 3-cm neck diameter balloons (e.g. up to a 1500g Kaymont/Totex design), and available for larger neck sizes upon request.

Instructions on how to operate the Quick-Launch inflation nozzle can be found here.