BEAR

(Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio)

 

A view from near space and SABLE-3 at 117,597 feet, August 11th - 2007

Near space is within the Stratosphere and Ozone layers, from 75,000 feet to the beginning of space at 62.5 miles. The earth's curvature and thin blue layer of atmosphere hugging the earth can easily be seen from here and at 117,000 ft. the horizon is at 460 miles, rather then only 2-3 miles when standing at ground level. The air pressure is <1% of that at sea level and with so little atmosphere there is next to no filtering of cosmic rays or ultraviolet light, blue sun light is not scattered so the sky is inky black, stars are visible, and there's no weather so always bright and sunny, but very cold at -60 to -90 degrees Fahrenheit.

A few friends and myself decided to start launching high altitude balloons with experimental amateur radio payloads which we nicknamed BEAR (Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio) after watching others do this and seeing no reason why they should have all the fun. We are not a club or official group, but simply a few individual amateur radio operators with similar interests, a common goal and hope that our BEAR projects, which anyone is welcome to participate in, will help promote education, experimentation and camaraderie between all amateurs and amateur radio clubs in the area.

An APRS tracker is essential to track and recover balloon payloads and our first flight, BEAR-1, was to confirm the GPS receiver chosen for our tracker would work above the 60,000 ft. ITAR altitude limit. BEAR-2 included a cross-band repeater and future flights are planned with cameras and other equipment.

August 2009 - It's been 9 years since BEAR-2 and some have asked if the BEAR group is still active. It is, but it's not an official group and simply myself that enjoys building payload packages, a few others that enjoy helping launch, track and recover them and a number more that enjoy simply watching. So progress is slow with only myself building payloads, especially with all the other projects and things I'm involved with. Progressing slowly has been good however. Digital cameras were new and much too expensive for any of us to risk using in 2000, but they've become inexpensive and capable of much higher resolution images now. And video cameras used to be not only too expensive, but also too large and heavy and have very short recording times, but not only have they now become much smaller, lighter weight, inexpensive and have much longer recording times, but even capable of transmitting real time video from high altitude balloon flights.

 

Date Flight Special
Notes
Duration
H:M
Max. Alt.
Feet
Balloon Total Payload (+) Distance Travelled
Kg Lbs Point to Point Ground Path
May 27, 2000 BEAR-1 1st Flight 4:34 104,206 1200g (1)  0.977 Kg 2.15 Lbs 76.2 Miles 106.8 Miles
Aug   5, 2000 BEAR-2   2:48    99,481 1200g (1) 1.564 Kg 3.45 Lbs 53.8 Miles 71.1 Miles
May 20, 2006  -  SABLE-1
July   8, 2006  -  SABLE-2
August 11, 2007  -  SABLE-3
Visit the SABLE Home Page for these and other SABLE flights
that BEAR members assisted with.
May 2008 TBJ 2008 TBJ - The largest balloon launch most of us could ever hope to be involved with.
Aug 22, 2009 BEAR-3   2:39 116,387 1500g (2) .0958 Kg 0.21 Lbs 47.7 Miles  
Aug 24, 2009 BEAR-4 HD Video 3:56 107,145 1200g (2) 1.500 Kg 3.31 Lbs 89.0 Miles  
April 24, 2010 BEAR-5 1st  UoA 2:51 92,359 ≈2000g (2) 0.228 Kg 0.50 Lbs 14.1 Miles 41.5 Miles
May 16, 2010 TBJ 2010  We were once again at TBJ to help with tracking and recovery operations,
 however we also became involved with preparing and the launch the balloon this time.
BEAR-6   2:23 114,635 1000g (1) 0.370 Kg 0.82 Lbs 33.7 Miles 42.1 Miles
May 29, 2010 SABLE-4   3:14 110,219 1500g (1) 0.772 Kg 1.70 Lbs 61.1 Miles 83.5 Miles
July   8, 2010 BEAR 7 UofA 1:59 93,917 1000g (1) 1.420 Kg 3.13 Lbs 34.5 Miles  
July 15, 2010 BEAR 8 UofA 1:47 91,952 1000g (1) 1.986 Kg 4.38 Lbs 40.0 Miles 52.6 Miles
Oct   2, 2010 ABE-1     103,533 1200g (1)        
May 14, 2011 ABE-2     99,770 1200g (1)        
June 18, 2011 SABLE-5       1500g (1)        
Feb 11, 2012 BEAR-9 4x5 #1 2:44 118,146 1600g (3) 2.2 Kg 4.85 Lbs 31.2 Miles  
Feb 13, 2012 BEAR-10 4x5 #2 ?? ?? 1600g (3) 2.1 Kg 4.63 Lbs 19.1 Miles ??
May 15, 2013 BEAR-11 4x5 #3 2:12 118,195 1600g (3) 3.0 Kg 6.61 Lbs    
May 17, 2013 BEAR-12 4x5 #4 2:17 121,633 1600g (3) 2.8 Kg 6.17 Lbs    
May 20, 2013 BEAR-13 4x5 #5 2:46 121,525 1600g (3) 2.8 Kg 6.17 Lbs    
Aug 24, 2013 BEAR-14 Genesis #1     1200g (2)        
Jan 18, 2014 BEAR-15 Genesis #2   101,742 1200g (2)        
??, 2014 BEAR-16                
Notes: (1) Kaymont Balloon with Helium
(2) Kaymont Balloon with Hydrogen
(3) Hwoyee  Balloon with Hydrogen
(+) Total Payload Weight includes all payload packages, parachute and connecting lines.
We've used Hydrogen that's ≈$60/bottle since 2008 after the cost of Helium rose to $280 from $80/bottle the year before
(other than when helping a school or similar group with a flight that had purchased or had Helium donated.)

 

 

Equipment &
Construction
Links

 

View the BEAR Balloon Flight Videos on the BEAR Channel

 

 

Follow BEAR activities on Twitter

Visit
www.sbszoo.com
for my Main Home Page and other Web Sites.

 


Information and pages on this site Copyright 2004 by Barry Sloan - VE6SBS