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BUZZ - High Altitude Balloon Flights

A project by David Akerman


I have 2 separate running projects named BUZZ and CLOUD with, so far, 2 flights each. BUZZ is for lightweight payloads to achieve maximum altitude or (later) long floats. CLOUD is for more normal-sized photographic payloads.

BUZZ is of course named after Buzz Lightyear who in turn was named after the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the first man to have a pee (inside his spacesuit) on the moon. CLOUD is named after my father-in-law Bryan Cloud who sadly is no longer around, but was keen on both photography and space and would have absolutely loved to get involved in a project like this. CLOUD payloads carry a photograph of Bryan.

For more info see my Buzz pages

Buzz 1

After my Cloud2 payload reached the then 4th highest UK flight of about 36.25km, I set about planning a payload that would comfortably beat that altitude. Hence Buzz1. Fashioned to look like a flying saucer, Buzz had a lightweight tracker comprising a Lassen IQ GPS module, Arduino Mini Pro processor board, SCP1000 pressure/temperature sensor, and a DS18B20 temperature sensor. It also had a buzzer for location, some flashing lights for fun, er, I mean location and diagnostics, and a MOSFET controlled cutdown, all in a package weighing 100 grams.

Buzz1 flew under a 1600g Hwoyee balloon and I was expecting a maximum altitude of at least 39km. However for an unknown reason (possibly ice crystals forming on the canopy) it burst much earlier, not even achieving he altitude that Cloud2 managed.

Buzz was tracked down to about 500m altitude, and was soon retrieved from a field in Cambs.

Buzz 2

Buzz2 was basically a re-run of Buzz1, using the same tracker and the same size balloon. I did however make a couple of changes. A problem with Buzz1 was that the transmitted frequency drifted a great deal due to an air gap between the top and base of the flying saucer. I decided to retire the saucer and use a polystyrene ball for better insulation (though a bit more weight). I then shaped the antenna/ground plane wires to make a passable impression of Sputnik, and gave Buzz2 the alternate name of “Buzznik”.

Also, I knew that the winds would take Buzz2 over to the continent and that it would be difficult if not impossible to be in the area when it landed. So I replaced the 3 AAA cells of Buzz1 with 4 AA cells in Buzz2, giving it a run time of at least 40 hours.

Buzz2 flew into Belgium and into the record books, achieving the highest ever UK flight at that time (beaten several times since!) at just under 41km. It was retrieved the following day.

projects/buzz.txt · Last modified: 2012/08/21 12:58 by daveake