2014 Maker Faire Bay Area – Not Your Grandpa’s Ham Radio   Leave a comment


IMG_0247 KH6WZ balloon APRS parts


APRS: Automatic Packet Reporting System – and High Altitude Ballooning

Someone asked if it would be possible to track a high altitude balloon using ham radio. It is possible to track a vehicle, aircraft or person using the amateur radio application called APRS, the automatic packet reporting system. Basically, the system consists of a two-way radio (usually for the 2m ham band), a GPS receiver, a modem to interface/control the data to and from the GPS, and an antenna for the radio and the GPS.

By coincidence, I am collecting parts for such a system, see the photo above. The radio antenna is on the left –  it is a piano wire dipole for the 2 meter ham band. On the upper right is a Byonics Tiny Trak SMT – the interface between the two-way radio and the GPS. Inside the orange plastic box is an old 2m handie-talkie, with its cabinet parts and battery pack removed. Not shown in the picture are the other ingredients, which include a tiny GPS module and the video cameras for Amateur Television (ATV).

KH6WZ - W6DQ APRS poster


KH6WZ - W6DQ APRS poster 2

Here are some links I used in my research.
Byonics – Makers of the Tiny Trak series of APRS beacons

Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning

Sparkfun – High Altitude Balloon Launch

Low-cost Near Space Without HAM Radios or Cellphones

Breaking the Amateur Radio Balloon Altitude Record

BEAR (Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio)

Watch this space for more Bay Area Maker Faire stories and pictures!

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