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Old Feb 27, 2013, 10:31 AM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
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GPS tracking HELP!!!

I am currently working with 3 fifth grade classes, launching a Near Space Balloon in May 2013. I have a question about GPS tracking. I want to see if any of you guys have an opinion.

Last year we had a successful launch of a NSB to 80,000ft.

This year we are repeating the project, with some new goals. To reach 100,000ft or higher, and video broadcasting from the gondola with an 800mw Tx, hooked up to a Dragonlabs OSD V2 (GPS chip, I also got the temp, and altimeter probe). I know we will need a perfect day for our launch, very calm upper level winds, which we had for last year. We have given ourselves the month of May as our launch window.

I have a question for you guys. Any suggestions on a secondary GPS track. Last year we used a Motorola Iden phone with instamapper (worked flawlessly up to and down through 20,000ft, Iden has been shut down along with instamapper), we also used a spot GPS device which failed us during the mission (Other NSB project have reported the same problem with Spot). I would really like a GPS device that will send info all the way up to altitude and not shut down at around 60,000ft. The HAM radio guys have the APRS radio, that from what I have read works really good, and will work for us up to 100,000ft (I think I read the device will work upto 160,000ft or somewhere about there).

I am taking the HAM radio test next Saturday, so I am legal per the FCC.

My Dragonlabs OSD V2 has the newest GPS chip (which from what I have heard may or may not work past 20,000ft), I was going to mess around and try to get a Trimbel (copernicus II) chip to interface with the Dragon OSD. I know the copernicus chip has a higher altitude limit. Any thoughts you guys, I am in no way even an amerature when it comes to the really technical stuff. I fumble around until I figure it out.

Any thoughts guys, I need something very reliable. Too many dollars invested in the project this year!!!

Links to our websites

https://sites.google.com/site/spring2013nsb/

https://sites.google.com/site/springgrovensb/

Thanks guys, you guys on these RC web-sites are a great bunch of guys!!!!!
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 11:24 AM
Y=C+I+G
cmdl's Avatar
United States, CA, Rosemead
Joined Jan 2012
9,026 Posts
i'm guessing blimps on the main portal (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/channels.php?id=11) may be more appropriate. just guessing.

is this all fallout from the kid who sent a hello kitty doll up on a balloon?
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 01:52 PM
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I think you need a Byonics Micro-trak with the high altitude option

http://www.byonics.com/mt-rtg
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:31 PM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Pete,

That is one of the units I am considering!!!

Thanks Pete....

PK
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:39 PM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Pete,

Here is some info from the micro-trak 8000, should work perfectly for this project!!!

the Byonics GPS4 (works up to 84km = 275,000 ft).

Pros:

■Reports: location + altitude + speed during the entire flight
■Locations saved online at aprs.fi and can be exported afterwards.
■Power up to 10W

Cons:

■Fairly fragile
■Requires a lot of batteries
■Fairly expensive (>$200)
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:56 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Illinois
Joined Sep 2001
25,215 Posts
Why not just have a cell phone that calls you and tells you where it is when it's headed back down?

Andy
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:41 PM
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If he has an easily obtained Ham license, using a set up like the Byonics will upload continuously position, and altitude to the the internet...via a network of Amateur radio stations and other stuff.


Here's an example.....

http://www.findu.com/cgi-bin/find.cgi?call=KD4EDE-14

This is an APRS setup in the tractor trailer I drive. I'm not moving, now, but later when I start moving, the map and position should update every few minutes...giving my speed, elevation, direction, location...etc.

Paul there may be cheaper options....and you wouldn't need a high powered transmitter due to the altitude. You may be able to find a low powered 2m HT cheap and 'roll your own' , using the tiny trak and probably the high altitude GPS a bit cheaper, but it would take some knowledge of the wiring, etc. Maybe contact a local Amateur Radio club?
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 07:13 PM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Pete,

I have limited tech knowledge. I just jump in, bump around, and start figuring it out.

But I am interested in something with a less powerful Tx. 10w seems a little much. Youd probably be able to find that on the moon with the right antenna setup. I'll look into a 2m HT. Any other thoughts Pete I'm all ears!

I will get in touch with my local radio group, or try to fiund a radio group whos interest is in GPS, and they may be able to help out.

Thanks Pete

PS. just checked your link and see the signal but your not moving yet, better get moving!
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 08:33 PM
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As soon as these turtles finish loading my trailer....I'll be moving.
(not sure if you have seen these sites?)

http://www.aprs.org/balloons.html

http://www.arhab.org/

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/in...?topic=66979.0
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 08:11 AM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Pete,

The Micro-Trak 300, with the right GPS reciever looks like it will be a much lighter option for our project. I came across this Tx in the past. I will definately consider it. Would use it along with the Byonics GPS4OEM gps reciever. Light weight and usable up to 225,000ft.

Another note here is I could bench test the GPS reciever with my dragon labs OSD and see if it will integrate with the Dragonlabs chip. Then I would order another GPS reciever and use one reciever on the Dragonlabs OSD chip and then use the other with the Micro-trak 300. Now I would have all the GPS data available on the OSD as well as with our secondary GPS track (the Micro-Trak 300). In Near Space Ballooning its always a good idea to have two seperate independant methods of tracking.

Thanks Pete for your time and thoughts! As you can see they are lighting the light bulb!

PK
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Old Feb 28, 2013, 05:22 PM
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The micro-trak 300, and the 8000, are discontinued, if you haven't noticed?
The transmitter chip got too expensive to make it feasible to offer in a kit.

I think the original supplier is still selling the 350my module, in a bare bones form that would require a lot more electronics know how to implement in a tracker than the Byonics product. $70
http://www.rpc-electronics.com/rf.php

You may want to try ebay or some other classifieds site to see if you can buy a used micro-trak 300, or 8000, or the 'pocket tracker'
http://www.byonics.com/pockettracker/

I'm digging around since I have had the thought of putting APRS on a large RC plane....someday.
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Old Mar 01, 2013, 06:31 AM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Pete,

You know I saw that awhile back. That might be why I scratched that particular one off the list. Ill keep an eye out on ebay, because the Micro trak 300 sounds like it would work really well with our project. I might contact byonics and see what they have to say.

Studied for my HAM radio license all day yesterday. Taking the test on Saturday morning.

Thanks Pete.
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Old Mar 05, 2013, 06:59 PM
king of the newbies
United States, PA, Bethlehem
Joined Feb 2013
202 Posts
Paulskyone,
This is great what your doing! Keep up the great work as a teacher and as a mentor to the kids.

Unfortunately, I don't have any technical information to add to this discussion, but I do have one observation.
Looking at last years flight path, I couldn't help but notice how close you were to Elizabeth Lake. After further research, with an easterly track your percentages of a water landing increase greatly!
With the cost investment into this project, have you considered any type of waterproofing of your electronics?

There are many economical lightweight reusable weather proof containers on the market.
for an example:
Pelican 1120

Dimensions:
Interior (l/w/d)
7.25"x 4.75" x 3.06"
Exterior (l/w/d)
8.12" x 6.56" x 3.56"
Weight
1.23 lbs (with foam)
1.17 lbs (w/o foam)

You can even go smaller than that one if thats to much weight, they have many to choose from

With it's "Pressure Equalization Purge Valve", you can easily overcome any issues with altitude and still remain water tight.
Quote:
How does the Pressure Equalization (Purge) Valve work?
The Pressure Equalization Valve (Purge Valve) is a simple device. It consists of a housing with a hole through it that is covered with a thin Gore-Tex® membrane. According to the GoreTM tech sheet: “The microporous expanded polytetraflouroethylene (ePTFE) membrane continuously allows the free passage of gases and vapours, equalizing the pressure differential between the enclosure and ambient before it builds to the point that a seal is compromised. Water, dust and dirt are repelled by the hydrophobic membrane, thereby protecting expensive and sensitive electronics”.

I bet with the nature of this project, a few emails to pelican might get you a case. Who knows if they tested it that high?
Altitude Reached....low estimate 77580ft
High estimate 82000ft

Quote:
Pelican-Case.com • Call Toll Free: 1-800-666-6200 • Fax: (210) 590-9482 • 9905 Perrin Beitel • San Antonio, TX 78217
Being reusable, each class year can stamp the date and altitude permanently to the case and a simple "flag like" banner can be used to hang below for the students to do their artwork. The reusable case and the flag/banner from each of the years can be displayed at the school. That whould be worth the weight gain of a reusable case! (ecofriendly?? no styrofoam?)

Just some thoughts.
Be sure to keep RCFORUMS up to date.

David.
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Old Mar 05, 2013, 08:02 PM
king of the newbies
United States, PA, Bethlehem
Joined Feb 2013
202 Posts
You could also drop your weight with some 550 paracord if your not already.
Example:

http://www.paracord.com/550-Paracord...-Camo_p_9.html
Commercial Type III, 550 Parachute Cord
550 lb. (248kg) Minimum Breaking Strength
225 Feet (69m) per lb. Minimum
Approximately 1/8 (3.175mm) Diameter

At under $10.99 for 100 ft.
with some searching you can find it cheaper.

David.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 09:11 AM
Spring Grove, IL
Joined Sep 2012
88 Posts
Guys,

sorry I havent responded. I have a couple of other threads going as well.

We use prediction software to get a perfect launch day under our belt. Last years payload only landed about 8 miles away from our launch site. This year an H2O proof container might be a good idea.

We will be launching from the chain-o-lakes area in Northern illinois. So we have several large ponds we have to be concerned about. Secondly we also have lake michigan to contend with.

Thanks for the suggestions I will look into them.
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