New Super-Light Payload

There are lots of reasons for wanting to get the payload weight down – it can save money (less helium / smaller balloon), or can mean more height with the same size balloon. Also very small payloads are used for foil balloon flights which, although they only get to 4km not the 30km+ of latex flights, cost a lot less for the balloon and for the helium. Also they generally don’t need CAA permission so they can be flown at short notice.

Here’s my attempt at one. It weighs in at 16g, which is less than a quarter of just the GPS antenna/cable on CLOUD1! It could be made even lighter by integrating everything onto one PCB, and my replace the GPS antenna with a very lightweight one. With battery, antenna and some insulation added the total weight will come to around 30g, which means it could fly with a single 36″ foil balloon.

This payload uses a new radio transmitter that hasn’t yet (as far as know) been flown at high altitudes, so as a test I will probably fly this payload soon together with CLOUD3 as the main payload.

Here’s the complete tracker assembly, just needing a radio antenna (5 bits of wire) and battery (even just a single AAA cell).

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2 Responses to New Super-Light Payload

  1. James Addison says:

    Hi there,
    love reading your blog, I am very interested in doing my own project, do you have any information regarding this smaller transmitter module above? It looks fantastic, I’m not going for any records, I just like the idea of small, smaller balloon less helium ect. Any information would be great thanks!


    • dave says:

      If you intend to use an Arduino board, as most people do, then the Mini Pro 3.3V is the one to get – tiny, lightweight, and as it runs on 3.3V it connects directly to the GPS and most sensors you might want to use.

      The transmitter module is the RFM22B. Again small and light, and also inexpensive. More difficult to control than the usual NTX2 but there’s code on the website to show you how to do it.

      The GPS here is the Falcom FSA03 but that’s no longer available.

      I suggest you check out where you can get GPS receivers, UHF transmitters etc., and for the Arduino Mini Pro.

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