Gains Balloon Test

pictures and captions by Russ Chadwick, KB�TVJ

Here is a picture of the balloon. It is filled with air and is hanging from the ceiling. You can stand upright underneath it. To give an idea of scale, the light below and to the left is about 5 feet off of the floor. The balloon is 60 foot in diameter. That vertical light area to the right of the balloon is where the door of the building doesn't go all the way shut. Lots of birds live in the hanger and that's why the balloon is covered with plastic sheet. It's dark and cold in the hanger.

The hanger is the largest clear span wooden building in the world. Here is what the inside support structure looks like. Over 3,000,000 board feet of lumber were used in the construction. The hanger was built in 29 days during WW II.

Here's a view of the payload. It is called the torus and there are 6 bays that hold the different packages. The EOSS package is in a bay by itself. It is in a foam box that is in a cardboard box hanging from one side of the bulkhead. The white tent in the background is an air museum. There are a dozen or so WWII and earlier fighters inside the tent that is inside the hanger, and there is still lots of room.

Cecilia Girz, the project leader, is carrying a tracking receiver around the torus. You can see solar panels which are used for testing only as everything is powered by batteries.


We took the payload outside the building to do radio checks with an airplane. This first picture shows just how big the hanger is. It covers 7.5 acres. They built two of them for blimps that were used to protect shipping from enemy submarines from Vancouver to San Francisco during the war. One of the hangars burned down and you can see one of its door supports off in the distance to the left.

This picture is taken from the other side of the torus as seen in the previous shot except that I turned around 180 degrees. The airplane was used for the tests. Don't know if you can see them all, but that plane has 18 antennas on it.

EOSS Package

The EOSS package was quite different than I expected, but I did get it working. I took some pictures of it laying on the work bench before I put it back in the payload bay.

This is a view of the top. You can see the KPC-3+ black case. The board on top was unexpected and is a GPS receiver and some other things. The extent of the documentation is the sheet in front. This package is called the "GPS Beacon Package". It is shown in the schematic as a plain box with lines coming into it. In some places, you see black tape and the tape is wrapped around components like resistors, capacitors ferrites, etc. and these are just held in place by the black tape.

The heat sink gets so hot that you can't touch it. It is a 3 pin regulator regulating from 18 to 6 volts. And apparently the heat is to warm the inside of the box.

Here's the backside of the package. This is the transceiver. Everything is held in place with different types of tape. The batteries can be seen in the back. These were also a surprise as I expected to be using power from the lithium battery pack.


webmaster note: I don't have the captions for these diode shots. This was a mod Russ hand to make before things would work ... I think it's a Kenwood D-7 mod to open up the transceiver to work outside of 2-meters