by Rick von Glahn, NØKKZ
Balloon Track is a Windows implementation of several programs written by Bill Brown, WB8ELK with several of my own additions.
Balloon Track uses data provided on the internet to predict the track, range and bearing of a high altitude balloon flight to the landing site.
Balloon Track is "Finished"
Balloon Track is now out of development. No further bug fixes or modifications will be made and no future versions will be forthcoming. It is still a useful program and so I'll leave this website up for reference and the availability of the final version of the program.
Getting Started with Balloon Track
If you are new to this program, I recommend you start out by clicking on the Program Overview. Follow all the links to discover the various areas of the program and how they work.
Next check out Importing Data. That will point you in the right direction to find current winds aloft data.
If you wish to use the data generated by a prediction in another program (spread sheet for instance), check out the Exporting Data section.
Broad categories of interest are linked to the left.
Pages related to the page you are currently viewing appear on the "buttons" at the top of the page.
History of a Prediction Program
A while back (1990) Bill Brown, WB8ELK, was contacted by our original group of hardy volunteers and ask to mentor us on setting up a balloon flight.
He came through in a big way. One of his most helpful contributions was BALLTRAK.BAS, an Basic program that would help us predict the touchdown of our payload.
This program was used as is for the first several flights. But, I soon became a bit frustrated with the user interface and so wrote a "shell" to surround that code in a more friendly environment. The result of that effort was ParaTrak.EXE, a DOS program written in QuickBasic 4.5. It has served me well over the years.
On one occasion we were expecting Gil Moore to launch a balloon over Utah, and have it fly to Colorado where we would issue a cutdown command. In response to this, I added a "Drop" mode, whereby the user could enter the local winds, and ask for a prediction based solely on the descent phase of a flight. Knowing the location of the balloon at cutdown, we could then predict a touchdown point.
A while later we flew our first ZERO pressure flight. This balloon ascended to it's destined flight level, and then floated there in the winds at that altitude until a cutdown command was issued. In response to this I added a Float routine and FloTrak.EXE was born.
There were still some user interface problems I hadn't tackled and I decided to go into the program and "fix" it. But, upon looking at all that scattered unreadable code, I decided it was time to rewrite the program.
Balloon Track for Windows is the result..