Recap of EOSS-63

There was a HOME BASED DF contest associated with this flight.

See the Contest Information Page for details.

No APRS system so, no actual track available
Green = predicted ascent
Red = predicted descent

LAUNCH DATE: January 25, 2003
LAUNCH TIME: 09:27:30 am MST, 16:27:30 UTC
LAUNCH SITE: Windsor (directions)

Flight System:

Balloon Manufacturer Kaysam
Balloon Type Rubber
Balloon Size 1200 g
Nozzle Lift 9 lbs
Free Lift % Unable to measure due wind Est. 220 Cu. Ft. Helium
Ascent Rate  ~ 1096 guess
Descent Rate  ~ 600 fpm (adjusted to sea level) guess
Peak Altitude  ~ 90,000 ft guess
Launch Conditions High Winds est. 13 miles hr. with gusts. The balloon was held under a sheet with no weight check possible.

See NOTES below regarding payload train configuration

If an EOSS payload is highlighted, there is a link to an information page about that payload.


  • Preflight Net:
    • 147.225 MHz 8 pm MDT preceding Friday night
      • 145.160 MHz simulcast in the Springs
    • 146.640 MHz will serve as a backup frequency
  • HF Net during Flight
    • 7228 KHz (see notes about this freq)
    •  starting at 15:15 UTC (8:15am MST)
  • APRS
    • was dropped due to weight problems (see notes)
  • Beacon
    • 147.555 MHz
  • ATV
    • 426.250 MHz (AM)
    • spin stabilized azimuth control
  • Tracking and Recovery Operations
    • 449.450 MHz 103.5 Hz tone RMRL Repeater
    • 146.550 MHz simplex (same simplex for field and launch ops)
  • Simplex at Launch Site
    • 146.550 MHz (same simplex for field and launch ops)

EOSS Grid Placement

  • Last Chance = 50, 10
  • Lindon = 60, 10
  • Fosston = 9.5, 67
  • Anton = 70,10.5
  • Landing Point = 55.6, 32.1

Payload Configuration:


Launch was plagued by high surface winds. The first balloon filled was torn around the fill nozzle due to the excessive stress of being blown about in the final moments of the fill procedure. This necessitated the breakout of a second balloon.

Unfortunately, we were a bit short of helium and so to ensure a positive lift we needed to lighten the payload train. With a contest for DF bearings being announced and relying on the beacon frequency of 147.555 MHz and the primary purpose of the mission being to test the new ATV "de-spinner", the most expendable item turned out to be the APRS tracking package.

Dumping the APRS package was surely a testimony to the confidence the launch team placed on the Tracking and Recovery group. We have suffered in flight failures of our position reporting payloads but this was the first time since EOSS-09, October 30, 1992 where we didn't even launch an APRS type device.

HF - Started on 7234 and finally settled on 7233 KHz

Data Files:

APRS was not flown this flight.


Ground Station & Tech Committee Recap

Hi All,

Well, for starters, congratulations to all of you who have once again secured EOSS's hard-earned 100% recovery record, and doing it the venerable Olde Fashioned way - DFing!

Despite wx forecasts of 5-8 kt winds at launch, Ma Nature done us wrong! The first Kaysam suffered a sudden death from a wind-induced aneurism. The remaining gas was doubted to be sufficient to hoist up the full DF/ATV/APRS payload string, so we opted, with your concurrence, to dump the APRS module in light of never having heard a peep from the N7QAM-11 TNC on ES-OS-FIVE and hope for 1st-ever EBBE.

The launch process could only be fully appreciated by being there, but fortunately Cec KC0OLS did a thorough videography job. Make the next meeting to see it all!

Re Color, color color: yup, we have a color camera small enough to fit on the new ATV module's elevation mount. But its resolution is only half that of the present B&W unit. So unless someone can donate the Big Bucks ($150+) for a small, low power hi-res color camera, we can trade image detail for (blurry) color.

The de-spin hardware was semi-successful. There is some evidence of anomalous magnetic influence in the main payload that appeared to cause the de-spin to lock up at certain relative azimuths. This didn't show up until the afternoon before the launch, when the whole tamale finally came together. Murphy Lives! I'll try to correct this before it flies again.

Re the beacon signals: EOSS-63 suffered not only from nasty surface winds, but the winds aloft hit close to 100 kt, along with the worst wind shear (turbulence) that I can recall. Why, even during ascent, we saw the ATV little wheel antenna dip down to the horizon even during ascent! This means that the entire payload string was nearly horizontal at times -- and the rest of the time it was swaying quite smartly. This of course means that the signal strength on the ground was also varying as the beacon antenna pattern nulls and peaks would swing past your site. In this situation, I think that a doppler DF system, which relies on phase rather than amplitude, would yield more stable results than swinging a yagi and looking for the peak and sidelobes. A simple loop with an abrupt null might also work.

Once again, a hearty Well Done to our venerable KD team. Ya done good, and thanks for bring home my 2 solid months of labor!

73 de Mike W5VSI

Tracking and Recovery Recap

by Benjie Campbell

Hi gang.

Well, the trackers have returned and recovered themselves. We had a successful recovery, thanks to the guidance of Marty WA0GEH and Larry N0ANI. The search grid method helped us eventually find the payload. Others helped, but their  experience was evident.

The weather was great, a lot of sun, and wind. For the first time in a long time, I did not take as much stuff as previous flights. We had Mike Morgan N5LPZ with Larry Noble, N0NDM and myself.

We were able to try out ATV for the first time, and I have to say it worked well. We were able to see the entire flight, and really enjoyed the landing. But we want COLOR. Color, color, color. Mike, did I mention we want color?

We found that two people will take slightly different bearings, standing right next to each other. The signal from the beacon varied so much it was almost impossible to take an accurate bearing. At lunch, after the recovery, everyone said they were having the same trouble. We will have to do some research on better antennas for the beacon I guess.

Larry and Mike were able to take a lot of pictures of the landing flight and the orientation of the parachute and payloads. Hopefully they can get them to Rick today and we will see them on the recap page.

WE had breakfast on the trip out, and then went to Deer Trail to watch Mark launch his balloon. It was quite a sight to see his "telephone booth" leave the pickup bed and rise into the air. We were then able to get to our tracking location with plenty of time to spare to prepare all of the radios and tracking gear, before EOSS-63 launched.

Larry had wondered out loud what would happen if we ran out of helium before the balloon was full, and then it happened for real. Wow, Larry, what esp. He had been watching Mark's crew prepare the Mylar balloon fill up, and saw they had several bottles of helium.

We were discussing the possibility of not having enough helium, and then Mark launched and we went on.

The EOSS-63 launch crew had a balloon burst, and then continued with the secondary balloon, and didn't have enough helium to fly the APRS module.

Well, this is getting too long. I want to say we had a good time, and were able to try another mode (ATV). I don't know if Mike will want to go with us again, but we would like him to. He is now "trained" to the standards of the tracking team and will make a valuable addition to our crew of dedicated members, ha! He needs to ride with Chirs, KB0YRZ to get the proper rounding experience, but if he survives that trip, he will be fine.

Tracking and Recovery Recap

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for the nice recap Benjie. Adding to that, the LOS bearings from WB4ETT, KB0UBZ (dead on) and W0CBH caused us to grid-search northeast of Last Chance, then move to the east and then south where the payload was found. A little common sense said that because the payload was only 6 pounds, and a large parachute was still attached, the drift would be in the direction of the low altitude winds. Thus the reason to shift south and why Roger WB0MTN picked up the signal. Good discipline gang!

Because of the quality of the tracking crew, it was pretty easy to approve a flight without APRS (due to weight issues). This DF crew is the best. I think the irony of having Bob Ragain and Colleen Ragain out there for possibly their last EOSS hunt and opting for DF-only was not unnoticed. Also, this may be one of Roger's last hunts with us - thanks Roger.

The ATV allowed a review of the featureless touchdown site - thanks Chris.

Thanks to Larry Cerney, K�ANI for running the maps and guiding folks into new search areas. This was a huge help.

And as always, thanks to Rick N0KKZ for putting us in the area so we could nail this.

Thanks to everyone for their perseverance and dedication to sustaining the world record for successful recoveries.

- Marty Griffin WA0GEH