Recap of EOSS-77/78

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Tracking and Recovery Recap

by Dan Meyer, N�PUF

My day started out at 4:30 am when I left to go to the predicted landing area. WAY too early for me. The good omen was that my computer did not lock up or go into Safe Mode when I turned it on! The first time ever working an EOSS event.

I met Marty [WA�GEH] and Larry [N�NDM] in the parking lot of the McDonalds in Limon. A quick pit stop and I was on my way to the predicted landing area.

Once in my assigned location and after getting the rest of my equipment on line, things went OK. We were then informed that there was no APRS on EOSS-77. That was disappointing! I was looking forward to seeing both 77 and 78 on my computer screen at the same time. As it turned out, I wasn't able to receive any packets from EOSS-78 either. I will have to look into that problem.

While settling into the normal tracking routine and giving only a couple of DF bearings, I had LOS on EOSS-77 (as did other trackers). That was totally unexpected when it happened. I thought 77 was still on the way up. As I recall, Benji [W�CBH], Marcia [call pending, congrats!] and  Mike [N5LPZ] still had a signal. The rest of the team was listening to white noise with nothing to track.

Sitting there at my assigned location I decided that I would get permission to move west in an attempt to reacquire the signal. After moving west, no luck. Even at the highest location in the area (commercial transmission towers there) I still had no signal. Marty sent me down road 166 east out of Agate 5 or 6 miles. When the road turned north and I could see for some distance I almost turned around. I still had no signal! I glanced at the map and decided to follow the road to the dead end as it was not that far. I went about 1/2 mile north and suddenly from S� the signal jumped to an S5! Now I was in business. I was elated that it was not just an exercise in driving. Arriving at the final cattle guard on that road, I was greeted by a herd of Long horn cattle and a viciously barking K-9. Also this sign.




Well.... "What now", I thought? I knew that I was close so I asked Marty to call the Elbert Sheriff's office and inquire about the road. It showed on the map as a county road. Pat from the Sheriff's office confirmed it was a county road and I could continue and I did just that. The cattle and dog just seemed to disappear. It was kind of eerie.

Just on the other side of that cattle guard, the signal strength went to full scale. My bearing changed rapidly as I drove the last mile to the ranch house. Greeted by 5 very friendly dogs, I rang the bell a couple of times. No answer.

I took a couple of bearings from different spots on that road. I thought that the payload string was just over a ridge (this was later confirmed). I stood there with binoculars watching and hoping to see the parachute rising up in the 20 MPH wind but never saw it. Marty directed the rest of the team to my location while I sat and waited. Ben [KB�UBZ] and Ann [KA�ZFI] called and asked me if I was looking at a log house. I was. The rancher they were talking to knew the owners of that house and he wanted to get on his ATV and go after the balloon himself!

The payloads appeared to be between his property and that log house with not too much distance between us. About then, Benji arrived at my location and took a 4WD trail to the east. My car would not have had much luck on that trail. He took some cross bearings and we decided that it must be between us. A short time after Benji arrived, Jim [K�JLZ] arrived and took that same road soon followed by Marty and then Ben. Everyone returned to my location and it was decided to hike to the payload.

After a short walk of about a half of a mile, Jim [K�JLZ], Larry [N�NDM] and I had a TALLY-HO! Pictures and GPS readings followed. I diligently tied the parachute strings with the supplied bread ties. (I want no "Lawn chair Larry" award). Ann joined us and we hiked out with all of the payloads.

During the drive out of the area, my communication radio had a weird malfunction. I was in the lead and noticed that there was no chatter on either frequency. I looked at my radio and noticed a time out light blinking. However the transmit light was not on. I did some fiddling but could not clear that light until I tapped the PTT key on the microphone. That finally cleared the light. I was then informed that I treated the rest of the team to a selection of tunes from a CD that I was listening to. I am just glad that music was all they heard! I guess I will never hear the end of that one!

After we landed in Byers for lunch, we were greeted by a few spunky gals at the Longhorn Steakhouse. I think they had as much fun with us as we had with them. The EOSS 78 tracking crew arrived a while later filing in one at a time. Soon thereafter Chris Koehler (who bought lunch for us. Thanks) arrived with some of the students to pick up their packages. I am just glad that Larry [K�ANI] and the rest of the EOSS team tracked down EOSS 78. This could have easily gotten very difficult. Thanks to Larry [K�ANI], Mike [N5LPZ], Nick [N�LP] and Merle [K�YUK] for tracking down EOSS 78.