Andy Nguyen Balloon Record

Balloon TrackAndy Nguyen from Melbourne broke a few records earlier this year. He managed to get one of his foil party balloons around the world nearly 3 times. I’m sure that there are hundreds circling the earth every day, but Andy’s magic is adding a HF transmitter, a VHF transmitter with Frequency change ability by longitude (for different countries) a smart controller, solar charging and batteries and they all weighed only some 11 grams.

The Sydney Morning Herald

The SMH story reported that the balloon finally “crashed” into the ocean. I can’t imagine a small foil party balloon and a 11 gram payload crashing anywhere! None the less here is the SMH story:

You can read it in full: CLICK HERE

Melbourne party balloon almost circumnavigates the globe three times

Andy Nguyen

Andy Nguyen is a network engineer by day. But in his spare time he delves into “the balloon scene” where he gets to indulge his love of amateur radio.

He makes the tiny electronics that accompany the helium-filled party balloons he launches more than 9000 metres into the air. And he’s just recorded a record run.

A standard silver party balloon he launched from a Williamstown park on May 23 ended up spending eight weeks traveling the globe at high altitude, clocking up more than 110,800 kilometres.

“I don’t think that’s been done before with a party balloon,” he said. “They usually do one circumnavigation. Two was a bonus but then this one just The balloon finally crashed into the Indian Ocean south of Madagascar after encountering a storm on July 18   – falling just short of completing its third circumnavigation of Earth.

Carrying a homemade shortwave transmitter, a GPS, solar panel for power and antennae throughout its journey, the party balloon known as PS-46 weighed 11 grams.

“It was just one of the silvery balloons you can buy from party stores,” he said.

The balloon’s closely monitored path included a heart-shaped loop over the Cocos Islands on June 29, just before returning to Australian airspace at the end of its second circumnavigation.

Known in radio circles by his call sign Andy VK3YT – VK3 indicating he is from Victoria – Mr Nguyen said the west-to-east path taken by the balloon he’s dubbed “the little battler” was determined by global wind patterns. He said its longevity was helped by good weather and good timing, as the journey missed the summer cyclones in the Pacific.

With just two years in the ballooning scene, Mr Nguyen said he was drawn to the hobby by the challenge of designing and making the electronic parts, which had to work in extreme conditions, be small and lightweight.

At 9000 metres, the temperature hovers between minus 50 and minus 55 degrees and the air is so thin that UV radiation is a serious consideration.

“Technically it’s a huge challenge,” he said. “You need to build something that can keep functioning in extreme conditions.”

The shortwave transmitter Mr Nguyen built for the balloon was powered by just 25 milliwatts. By comparison, a standard mobile phone has 2000 milliwatts, or two watts. And it wouldn’t work at that elevation.

The balloon however could transmit its location every 30 minutes, with the signal picked up by receivers across the globe – from Australia and New Zealand to Argentina, South Africa, the US, Sweden and Peru.

It was tracked online by a core team of three volunteers around the clock – only one of whom Mr Nguyen has met.

“We have people in New Zealand and in Queensland and in Sydney,” he said. “It’s a real community.”

The Wireless Institute of Australia

Read the full story: CLICK HERE

Date : 25 / 07 / 2015
Author : Jim Linton – VK3PC

The high altitude flight by a standard foil party balloon launched from a Williamstown park in Melbourne Australia, which lasted eight weeks, travelling more than 110,800 kilometres, has been covered by the news media. Andy Nguyen is a network engineer by day, but in his spare time gets into the ‘balloon scene’, and his love of Amateur Radio.’The Age’ newspaper in Melbourne and the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ reports that he makes the tiny electronics payload for the standard 90cm helium-filled party balloons.

Andy is known as the master of miniaturisation, tethering by a fishing line a payload of a 25 mW transmitter, using standard HF frequencies in WSPR and the JT9 modes, a GPS, solar panel for power – all weighing a mere 11 grams. The Age reports that the record distance flight was achieved by PS-46 launched from Melbourne Australia on May 23. It went around the southern hemisphere twice and leaving South Africa in storm on July 18, was lost just short of its third circumnavigation of Earth. He has been ballooning for two years, and admits being attracted to the hobby of Amateur Radio by the challenge of designing and making small light weight electronic parts, that work under extreme conditions.

From experience the temperature goes down to minus 55 degrees, the air is so thin that UV radiation is a serious consideration. The Age quotes Andy VK3YT: “I don’t think that’s been done before with a party balloon. They usually do one circumnavigation. Two was a bonus but then this one just kept going.” He explained that global wind patterns were favourable, its longevity was helped by good weather and good timing, with the journey missing adverse weather.
The balloon transmitted its location every 30 minutes, with the signal picked up in Australia and New Zealand to Argentina, South Africa, the US, Sweden and Peru.

Balloon Track

Above is the first circumnavigation.

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