Amateur Radio Station K6JEB

from beyond the horizon

(UPDATED) Amateur Radio APRS aboard the Cal High Altitude Balloon Launch Saturday 3/14 from the Main Glade – Come Join Us!

Posted by Jack on March 12th, 2015

Predicted flight path for KK6PUZ-1 on Saturday March, 14, 2015

Predicted flight path for KK6PUZ-1 on Saturday March, 14, 2015

College Amateur Radio APRS aboard the Cal High Altitude Balloon Launch this Saturday 3/14 from the Main Glade – Come Join Us!

This Saturday around 12pm Pacific (1900UTC) as part of the “Pi Day” celebration (which will be STEM-focused) the Space Exploration Society at Berkeley will launch a High Altitude Balloon from the main glade at the Cal Campus.  The launch team is planning for the craft to attain an altitude of around 100,000 feet and at present the flight time will be around 3 hours (and then it will descend with an estimated touch-down at 2153UTC).  

Please feel free to pass this along to your friends, family, and associates!  Can you help spread the word?  :)


The balloon will have a GPS-enabled Amateur radio Packet Reporting System (APRS) tracker on-board transmitting at 144.390MHz (the national APRS frequency for 2m) using the callsign KK6PUZ-1 which belongs to Cal Planetary Sciences student Kareem Shaik.  So if you run an APRS iGate in the area from Berkeley to Copperopolis, or you’ve been looking for a good reason to set one up, get ready for Pi Day!

There will be other systems on-board for photography and telemetry.  You can also track the balloon while in-flight at the High Altitude Balloon Hub.

We could really use some help with tracking and recovering this balloon.  If you know people in the area, please invite them to participate as well.  We are still needing to pull together a few items, including the APRS antenna for the balloon as well as an antenna for the live video feed.

Here’s a chance to put many aspects of ham radio to use:

  • APRS
  • Fox-hunting
  • Signal triangulation
  • Mobile radio net
  • Antenna modeling/building
  • Batteries in extreme conditions
  • Abiding by regulations including those of the FAA
  • YOUR imagination !!!

UPDATE (20151110):  the balloon and its payload were safely recovered the day after the launch by Jason, KK6OQW who contacted us, and we drove out to Tracy to make the exchange.  The excitement in the chase vehicles was immense. It’s like geocaching, scavenger hunting, road-tripping, ham radio, mobile NASA Ground Control/Tracking, geekfest, physics-meets-poetry, BEYOND THE CLASSROOM. This is the sort of experience that imprints for life.Without further ado, here are the videos:

Here's the photos Jason KK6OQW took of the SESB-1/KK6PUZ landing site.

A photo Jason KK6OQW took of the SESB-1/KK6PUZ landing site.

sesb-1_kk6puz_flight_track1 73 and Go (Cal) Bears!
Jack Burris, K6JEB

Posted in APRS, computers, high altitude balloon, qrp, satellites, space, special event, video | Comments Off on (UPDATED) Amateur Radio APRS aboard the Cal High Altitude Balloon Launch Saturday 3/14 from the Main Glade – Come Join Us!

Sainsonic AP510 Unboxing

Posted by Jack on January 24th, 2015

Unboxing of the SainSonic AP510 APRS Tracker with Built-in GPS Module, 1W VHF Transceiver Module, VHF Antenna, Bluetooth, Thermometer, and TF Card Support. Price was around $130 shipped (and fast).

These are available from several sources. I bought mine here:

To help you get over the initial shock of setting one of these bad boys up, Eric KJ4YZI has some helpful videos:

and be sure to drop by the Yahoo Group:

There’s that initial bump but now that I’ve set up one I could set up a hundred. Once you get the latest firmware flashed into the tracker via the USB port, you run the config program and use the suggested settings found on the Yahoo Group (or just bug me for a screen shot).

$130 and this thing WORKS as advertised. No mess of wires. Great battery life. You can connect to it via Bluetooth (so you can run it in KISS mode from your smartphone or tablet). GPS is FAST! The case is SOLID! Stock antenna isn’t that impressive but that’s easily remedied. I also soldered the antenna connector since some goofball thought it was a good idea to use a male SMA connector with the spinning sleeve BEHIND the case.  :)

Look for K6JEB-4 on APRS.FI.

And of course it would be cool to somehow get on the Heard MHeard list as well (rimshot).

Something like this would be a no-brainer to attach to an amp to get a bit more than 1-watt out.

I’m thinking of ruggedizing my AP510 further by putting into a Pelican case (with room for a 35watt 2M amp and a weatherize pass-through hole for either sealed Anderson Powerpoles or just a wire or bolt bus). I’m definitely going to take this setup on the 20 mile FAGES II Scout Hike through Tilden Park and Wildcat Canyon this year. And of course several other field testings.

The battery is lithium Ion and seems to hold a charge while beaconing for over 24 hours. This can be easily extended with a cheap USB charging pack that could extend you for several DAYS. Of course you can use anything with a USB port to charge it. Well, almost anything (don’t plug it into a Raspberry Pi USB port directly).

Also running a quarter wave GROUND wire works wonders on the signal. Having a good antenna even better. But I’ve been tracked with it in my sport jacket inside pocket and the stock antenna while walking between buildings.

Seems like it would be something we could have the team use for the Heard Island 2015 Expedition (VK0EK).  I guess I’m going to have to try it out from within my freezer overnight.  :)

Posted in APRS, DXpedition, Heard Island, soapbox | Comments Off on Sainsonic AP510 Unboxing

Heard Island Project

Posted by Jack on January 8th, 2015

I’ve been so busy I haven’t posted anything here in a while. That’s soon going to change. And there’s a lot to fill-in to the past, so watch the archives too (I’ll give you a head’s-up). For now, check out the happenings with the Heard Island Project with which I’m involved:

Posted in DX, DXpedition, Heard Island | Comments Off on Heard Island Project