Medway Public Library


  Catalog     Website  
Medway Public Library

  Catalog     Website  

Welcome to the New England Weather Balloon Society (NEWBS)


Mission Statement

The New England Weather Balloon Society is dedicated to the collaborative and iterative process of building and launching high altitude balloons to the edge of space to take instrumentation readings, record video footage, and conduct experiments. This club brings together like minded tinkerers, engineers, and hams to work on exciting projects and launches.  Open to all ages.

(previously known as Medway Balloon Society)


Recent Launches

 

Summary Video of WB3 (10/2/2021):

 

Summary Video from WB2.5 (6/24/2021):


How We Meet

 

Discord

Sign up for the Discord server to recieve daily updates about current payloads as well as to share and communicate with other members.  Discord is such a great way to keep in touch day-to-day as projects are being worked on.  Email dbusa@minlib.net to receive a Discord invite.

 

Makerspace

Join us in the Makerspace for regular engineering jam sessions and meetings on the first Saturday of each month at 10am.


In the News

https://www.wickedlocal.com/picture-gallery/country-gazette/2021/03/03/photos-max-kendalls-weather-balloon-project/6897504002/

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/65561515/medway-millis-may-2021

https://ema.arrl.org/2021/03/07/womxx-experimenting-with-weather-balloons/

https://ema.arrl.org/2021/07/08/w0mxx-high-altitude-ballooning-going-to-the-edge-of-space-at-sci-tech-ars-meeting-july-13-2021/

Note: The following are behind a paywall

https://www.milforddailynews.com/story/news/2021/03/05/medway-boy-building-weather-balloon-looking-form-balloon-club/6907910002/

https://www.wickedlocal.com/story/country-gazette/2021/03/04/medway-boy-building-weather-balloon-looking-form-balloon-club/6892717002/


Projects

 

Weather Balloon 3 (WB 3) - Launched October 2nd, 2021

Sawyer Farm, Worthington, MA

Key features of WB3 included: 

  • 103,000 ft. apogee / burst altitude
  • New DragonTouch action cam for primary camera.
  • "Love Letter to Earth" theme.
  • 3D printed, hand-painted Earth model.
  • Sensor Readings: Humidity, Temperature, Pressure, Altitude, CO2
  • Heating chamber for CO2 experiment
  • LoRa electronic cut-down system to separate payload from cord when stuck in a tree.
  • LoRa activated buzzer for helping to locate during recovery.
  • 1000g balloon
  • PiCamera facing upwards to capture footage of the balloon and parachute
  • Yeast science experiment (successfully activated yeast after exposure to high altitude environment)
  • Chia seeds experiment (ongoing)
  • Scented putty experiment (lost some scent after high altitude exposure)
  • Bubble wrap experiment (large bubbles popped, small bubbles stayed intact)
  • Rubber band experiment (seemed undamaged/unaffected by cold/low-pressure)
  • Improved flight prediction, fill procedure, and balloon led to accurate landing 5 min from home.

 

Weather Balloon 2.5 (WB 2.5) - Launched June 24th, 2021

Cornwall, Pennsylvania

 

Because the payload box of WB 2 seemed to still be in pretty good shape, it was decided to fix up the sensors and fix the SD card issue and fly the payload again.  The raspberry pi camera system was rebuilt as well to be more stable.  This payload was successfully tracked and recovered.  This time, there video footage and temperature sensor readings were successfully recorded onto the SD card.  However, the Raspberry Pi mysteriously stopped recording near burst altitude.  Latest theory is that the jolt from the burst knocked the SD card loose.

 

Weather Balloon 2 (WB 2) - Launched June 7th, 2021

Rhode Island

 

Lessons were learned after the first launch.  Max earned his radio license (and upgraded it to the General level) in order to use a radio transmitter.  This payload contained a homemade pi camera.  It was also programmed to record weather sensor readings (temperature/pressure/altitude).  However, at the launch, the sensors were causing problems, so it was decided to disable these sensors and allow the balloon to fly with just the camera.  This payload flew with two different radio trackers.  It was tracked and recovered from the tree it landed in.  Upon retrieval, it was learned that the SD card was actually full from a previous test of the electronics.  Only 10 seconds of new footage was on the card.  This payload also had a theme - Among Us stickers were on the box and a 3D printed character was attached to popsicle sticks and put in the foreground of the camera.

 

Weather Balloon 1 (WB 1) - Launched November 28th, 2020

Agawam, Massachusetts

 

This was the first foray into the world of high altitude balloons.  Neither a good quality GPS tracker nor a radio transmitter were used, so this balloon was never recovered.  This payload flew with a homemade pi camera, programmed to save periodic still images every couple seconds.


Data from WB3

Flight Path

APRS flight path for WB3 projected onto Google Earth


Altitude over Time

Data plot from WB3 showing altitude readings over seconds


External Temperature over Time

Data plot showing external temperature readings over seconds.


Humidity over Time

Data plot showing humidity readings over seconds


CO2 Readings over Time


Heating Chamber Temperature over Time

Data plot of internal heating chamber temperature over seconds


Heater Function over Time

Data plot of the heater function over seconds


Data from WB 2.5

Graph of Pressure, Temperature, Altitude over Time

all the sensor levels from wb 2.5 over the course of time


Graph of Temperature over Altitude

Temperature over Altitude Graph from WB 2.5


Graph of Temperature over Time

Temperature graphed against time from data collected from WB 2.5


Graph of Pressure over Time

Pressure graphed against time from data collected from WB 2.5


Graph of Altitude over Time

Altitude graphed against time from data collected from WB 2.5


Photos and Videos

 

Photo Album

Click Here to View Photo Album

 

More Videos

Check out the LORA test:

 

Check out the nichrome wire test:

 

Watch the video for WB 1 (see how far we have come!):

 

Watch the Medway Balloon Society presentation for the WB2 launch party:


Lessons Learned

 

As with all engineering projects, the lessons learned from our failures are often more valuable than the successes.  Here is a catalogue of some of these learnings so far from previous projects.

 

WB 1

Since the balloon payload box was lost at around 9,000 ft and never recovered, this launch taught us the importance of a solid tracking system.  Also lessons were learned about using "party store" helium, which has a very low purity.

 

WB 2

There were a lot of lessons/questions from this launch!  This balloon was actually intended to launch on June 5.  There was an electronics issue at the launch site, and there was no way to access the code on the Raspberry Pi, so the launch was aborted.  This taught us the importance of using SSH to be able to access the Pi and change the code on site, which was used on the actual launch for WB2.  After launch, we learned that it would be super helpful to have a cut-down system (as the balloon had landed in a tree).  We also learned the importance of checking the SD card thoroughly.  Another issue that occurred with this launch was actually Max’s tracker.  It stopped transmitting at about 40,000 feet (this happens with lots of GPS modules) and then resumed once it descended to that height again.  Hojo found a code solution to initialize the UBlox GPS module in "airborne" mode.

Yet another issue with this launch was the burst altitude of the balloon. It was much lower than expected.  The balloon also used more helium than expected.  One thing to do in the future is use a counterweight to more properly calculate the positive lift.  Also, the balloon supplier was questioned, as the balloon had some questionable attributes.  

We also learned how important it is to have backups of key supplies.  From radio transmitters shipping from the UK to SD cards and using Github, having multiples of key parts and backups of information is crucial.

 

WB 2.5

Yet another lesson-filled launch!  As this balloon landed in a tree again, it really drove home the importance of a cut-down system and more robust recovery supplies.  Max’s tracker stopped transmitting similarly to WB 2, however, it stopped even earlier than before.  Hojo discovered after the fact that an extra delay needed to be added to the UBlox initialization code.  The balloon also burst earlier than expected (same balloon supplier as the previous launch - future launches will use a different brand!).  The balloon had visible defects, discoloration, and seams.  This also contributed to it landing in a forest instead of farmland as had been predicted.  Another mystery was that the video stopped recording after an hour and a half.  It is possible that the burst of the balloon jostled something.  Luckily, the footage and data that was on the card was good up until that point, so we will attempt to stabalize things even better when mounting in the future, particularly the SD card.  The raw footage was also red-tinged due to an auto white balance issue.  In the future, we will be sure to add code to allow the camera to be manually white balanced.