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August 8th Balloon Launch

WGARS successfully launched and retrieved a high-altitude weather balloon on Saturday, August  8th, 2020.  The weather balloon carried a cross-band repeater and APRS transmitter to aid in chase team communications and provide GPS data to the APRS network for tracking and recovery.

Approximately 20 people were on location for the preparation and launch.  Preparation was a bit different than past ones, using Hydrogen for lift rather than Helium. Balloon inflation went smoothly; so smooth there was a brief wait for the payload to be ready.

The payload consisted of an electronics package including a Raspberry Pi running APRS software and three hand-constructed transceivers, one to transmit APRS, and two to cross-band repeat.

APRS worked very well, allowing tracking of the balloon uninterrupted for most of the flight. Location was a bit more challenging than previous launches, with chase teams hearing the cross-band repeater but no APRS signals. Computer modeling software historically only provides a general area to search, and signals appeared to indicate the payload was located a good distance from the predicted landing spot.  However, the software was vindicated, as an APRS signal was finally  picked up as teams got closer, and the payload was discovered within 100 yards of the predicted landing location! Congratulations to WD8QLT & KM4WQC on locating the payload.

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West Georgia Amateur Radio Society, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Corporation.
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