Under Construction: KH6WZ Floating-Flying APRS   Leave a comment

Some friends at the office launched a helium balloon last weekend (Sunday 25 August). We talked about tracking the balloon and of course, I have several ham radio “tracker boxes” that interface a GPS unit to ham radio and then the Internet. Making something small and lightweight could be something that can be part of the payload for a high altitude balloon.

Interestingly, I had a project in my mind ever since I started my various beacon projects many years ago: It is a 21st century message in a bottle – build a disposable, waterproof, floating APRS beacon that I can throw overboard and into the ocean. Then the world can track this thing as it floats around. It will have some instructions on what to do with it if it is found. And, if the finder is or knows a ham radio operator, I will ask that they throw it back into the ocean so it can be found and tracked again.

Here is a picture of one of the main ingredients I will be using:

An old but working 2 meter HT can be put to good use as the RF portion of an APRS beacon.

An old but working 2 meter HT can be put to good use as the RF portion of an APRS beacon.

The plastic case, battery pack and rubber duckie antenna will be discarded to reduce weight. LED indicator lights will be disconnected to reduce current consumption. Other parts or functions will be deleted to conserve space, weight and power consumption.

The APRS modem will be a TinyTrak unit, as with my other APRS projects.

I may build two of these, one for balloon flights and one for message in a bottle use.

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