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November 2012

Operation Ice Dragon – Part 6 – Where did It Go?

Ice Dragon LogoSome disappointing news, looks like the payload never reported back after the flight, I’ve run though a bunch of scenarios in my head, among them:

  • The tracking battery died before touching down, I did some pretty extensive testing, so this is not really my first thought.
  • The payload landed in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast.  Looking over the initial assent reporting it looks like the balloon was rising at 600 feet per minute instead of 1000 feet per minute, this could have caused the balloon to go further east than expected, and maybe as far as the ocean.
  • The payload landed in a area with no reception and could not report it’s location.  Reviewing Verizon’s coverage area, it appears that just beyond and to the south of the estimated landing area, there’s a fairly large area with no coverage.  I’m leaning toward this scenario.
  • Some other error, the app failed, the package hit too hard or landed in water and broke the phone, I find this unlikely.

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Operation Ice Dragon – Part 5 – Where Will It Go?

Ice Dragon LogoSo looks like the weather this weekend might not be perfect,  nice thing is I have next week off as well so if worse come to worse I can wait for it to clear a bit.  I ran the current forecast though two sites that plot where they think the balloon will go based on weather, and they are both showing fairly close landing points.  The downside to this is they are both a bit to close to the Green Swamp for my tastes.  I’ll have to run a few more as the week goes on and see where things end up.  If it stays where it’s at I’m going to lean toward heading further south for launch (means getting up earlier blah) but aside from the ocean that’s another area I’d really like to avoid.
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Launch Date Selected

Ice Dragon LogoI’ve selected the weekend of November 24th and 25th, 2012 (Weekend after Thanksgiving).  The plan is to release the balloon on Saturday and if the weather isn’t cooperating give it a shot on Sunday.

I have all the parts and found a supplier for the helium close to my work.  The balloon came in last week, and I ran some tests with the cameras to make sure they worked and had enough power to last the flight, all looks good.

I’m figuring on releasing the balloon either from the park in Hunter’s Green or the schools soccer fields around the corner unless the winds change direction drastically.  I’m going to be including some wooden tokens in the payload to give to anyone who wants one assuming balloon is retrieved of course.

The balloon will report until it reaches 4000 feet and then most likely go dark until it falls back to earth.  The entire flight takes around 2.5 -3.5 hours and once it goes up, it’s a bunch of waiting for the tracking to come back online, thinking of hitting a restaurant for breakfast after launch to burn some time.

If anyone is interested in coming to help/watch with the launch or help retrieve the balloon your more than welcome, kids and adults alike.  There’s really know way to know for sure where it will land, if a signal will be returned, or if anything will come back in once piece, but hey that’s sort of the fun.  Assuming the tracker kicks back in, it could land anywhere from 10-80 miles away (I hope).

Please feel free to email or call if your interested.