HAB-3: Improvements From HAB-2 and Goals for GSBC

By Nick Becker · April 9, 2015

Our next high altitude balloon, HAB-3, will be launched as part of the 2015 Global Space Balloon Challenge later this month. While HAB-2 was in many ways a success, there are several areas we plan to improve for this next balloon. To accomplish these tasks in our short three-week preparation period, we have split into groups to increase the efficiency of our work flow and accomplish everything we need to before launch day. Current members of the Makers Club who are participating in GSBC are split into the following groups: launch planning, data collection, structure, power system, or telecommunications.

Improvements from HAB-2

Data Collection

  • Rebuild datalogger

  • Protect solder connections with a 3D printed casing around the Arduino and shield

  • Redesign sensor mounts on the exterior of the payload casing

Structure & Inflation

  • Increase distance between parachute and payload

  • Potentail spreader to assist parachute deployment

  • Revise inflation procedure

  • Rethink tie down method and safety lines during inflation

Telecommunications

  • Longer range antenna for to improve APRS packet range

  • Test a portable directional antenna to aid in locating balloon during retrieval

  • Reduce HAM radio mass

Power System

  • Increase camera battery capacity (solar pad or external battery bank)

  • Modify mini USB for inflight GoPro charging

  • Research the possibility of delaying the GoPro to start recording at a higher altitude

Goals for GSBC

While HAB-3 will definitely be an outgrowth of the lessons learned from HAB-2, we want to establish goals specific to certain objectives defined in the Global Space Balloon Challenge.

Best Video

We’re looking forward to the follow up to Cole and James’ HAB-1 video with shots throughout the development, launch, and flight of HAB-3. Additionally, Josh will be able to program flight points into his Phantom quadcopter, so that it will follow the balloon autonomously. This will result in smoother panning and better footage of the balloon during launch. The video will likely be a sort of narrative of the balloon process from start to finish. Our main goal for the video is to excite viewers and gain more interest in high-altitude ballooning and engineering projects as a whole.

Highest Altitude

The second area of competition we are pursuing during the challenge is highest altitude. We saw a significant increase in max altitude on HAB-2, and we’re aiming to continue this trend for GSBC. While we aren’t completely overhauling our payload specifically for this objective, one of the goals during design was maximizing lift and minimizing payload weight. We’re also looking into a larger balloon weight to allow the balloon to expand more at altitude, thus increasing the duration and altitude of ascent before it pops.

Our 360° Venture

We recently contacted the three leading 360° camera companies about potentially purchasing a prototype-model of their products to use in a balloon. We will not include a 360° camera in HAB-3, however, we’re excited to hopefully become some of the earliest 360° near space videographers in the near future. Bubl, 360fly, and 360cam have added us to their Partners List and are enthusiastic about possibly working with us in the future.

Scheduling

We’re hoping to order all parts this coming week so that we’ll have enough time to prepare the balloon. In the past, our only real difficulty has been managing the large workload of balloon projects as we prepare for launches, and to prevent this from occurring during the HAB-3 project, we hope to organize our time with the following meetings and deadlines: