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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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Operation Ice Dragon – Part 1 – Tracking

Ice Dragon LogoIt went where?!

One of the most crucial portions of this project is the recovery of the balloon, which will take a bit of technology.  Since I’m a programmer I couldn’t resist building the tracking application myself.

The tracker is an Android app that will be installed on an old phone and placed in the styrofoam cooler during the flight.  The tracker uses the phones built in GPS to then track it’s position and report it back in the following ways:

  • A file on the phone will record every position it observes, so if there’s no cell or internet connection, I’ll have a copy of where the balloon was to see later.
  • If the phone has cellular coverage it will send me a text message with it’s position, battery remaining, as well as it’s speed and altitude.
  • Finally, if  the phone has internet connectivity it will submit information contained in the text message to a web server that will then plot it’s position in real time on a Google map.
Below is a screenshot of the application on my phone, and then the Google Maps view of the points received.
Ice Dragon GPS Tracker
Ice Dragon GPS Tracker


Ice Dragon Google Maps Tracker
Ice Dragon Google Maps Tracker

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