JHAB-7 Found!

Found on August 3rd aprox 6pm near the old mining road to Contact Mine by Ranger Jodi from Joshua Tree!

Park Ranger Jodi and Josh

Park Ranger Jodi and Josh

We received a call from Park Ranger Jodi who said she “came across your project as I was hiking on the old mining road to Contact Mine on August 3rd approx 6pm inside Joshua Tree National Park.

JHAB-7 Found near hiking trail by Park Ranger on Aug 3rd

JHAB-7 Found near hiking trail by Park Ranger on Aug 3rd

We couldn’t believe it, JHAB-7 had been lost since April. She said she found it just up the hill from the trail and she hiked it back for us. We said we would be out there Sunday to pick it up.



We arrived at Joshua Tree around 2, and met Jodi, she recounted her story of how and where she found it and then let us know that the Federal Rangers would like to speak with us.

We had some explaining to do

We had some explaining to do

We thanks her again (gave her a nice thank you gift) and went to meet with the Rangers. We get to the Ranger station and there it was, JHAB-7, still intact, weather beaten but still in pretty good shape.

After we explained to the Rangers what it was all about, they took a report and even posed for a picture

After the interrogation, the Rangers were friendly

After the interrogation, the Rangers were friendly







The outside GoPro’s are damaged from the exposure, but the video’s from all three cameras were recovered and look great! The internal GoPro 3, the Radio’s are all working fine!

We’ll edit some of it and post soon.

JHAB-7 – lost, and now found!

JHAB-5 Post Flight

Flight should have been called – Slow balloon to the desert. Everything was working great at the launch site, we met the team at Starbucks at a little after 5am for the pre-dawn launch. At the launch site, Josh and I setup for the launch smoothly and with precision, everything was checked, weighted and running smoothly, with the exception of our GoPro, although I had it set the night before, it did not seem to be staying on. The director got his GoPro working, and then set ours, seemed to be working – all was a go for launch.

We successfully launch pre-dawn at 14:10Z (06:10). It was a brisk 28 degrees (f) (-2 c) outside, with no ground wind – perfect launch. We celebrated, packed up, checked for a radio signal from APRS – all was a go, so we headed out to get some gas and proceed to the planned landing site in Yucca Valley. At the gas station, panic set in – we had not heard from the on-board radio for more than 30 minutes. Past launches the radio has been flawless, sending signals via APRS every 60 seconds. Panic turned into sheer terror now. We were hired to launch and recover a payload carrying the crews GoPro, to capture important footage to the film and while we were clear that we couldn’t guarantee success due to so many unknowns, were should at the very least be able to launch and recover – but without the radio sending GPS it would be impossible. We told the team the situation, and continued to the planned landing site.

One hour and ten minutes later – we received a signal from KJ6UXA-5 on APRS! It’s alive! Josh and I were elated and relieved. We pulled over and updated the team –  we have good signal and coordinates – all is well. Phew! We stopped at Starbucks in Joshua Tree for some coffee.

The planned flight time was two hours, with an estimated max altitude of 98K ft – two hours into the flight we could tell something else was wrong, the ascent rate was slower, and it only reached an altitude of 73K ft – and the decent rate was very slow – the chase was on now with no idea where it was going to land. The decent path was over the Joshua Tree National park if it had landed here it would have been next to impossible to retrieve, on the plus side due to the slow decent it cleared this, on the other hand it landed almost 30 miles away from the planned site – in the middle of nowhere.

Recovery – Josh did an amazing job coordinating the coordinates, GPS, and terrain and found a small dirt road as close to the landing site as possible. We had to 4 wheel it out about 2 miles to get near the landing area. We hadn’t heard from the APRS radio for about 40 minutes, until we reached the dirt road when our handheld received a signal with the coordinates. From here we had to go on foot. We ended up hiking about 6 miles in total but found the payload – with the balloon, mostly deflated but still intact! It was clear now that the balloon must have had a small pin hole leak which caused the problem – but we recovered it!

Josh – Recovery of JHAB5

We returned the equipment to the team, re-hydrated, celebrated the recovery and hoped we got the video footage the team wanted. With the long flight time our camera batteries were dead so we’d have to wait until we got home to know for sure.

Our GoPro was mistakenly reset to take still time-lapse pictures instead of video, with half the stills damaged, they turned out purple and overexposed – not sure why. The Down Angle Cannon lens was destroyed on impact, but captured more than 1700 still. Word from the Movie crew is they received ascent video but no decent due to the long flight and slow decent. Some of the early am pictures we captured turned out beautiful though.

JHAB5 Down Angle view

We were pleased we recovered the payload, even though we didn’t reach all of the flight goals. We offered the crew to another flight, as they want the rapid descent video – which after five flight we have not been able to capture either – we may do another on our own just to capture it anyway.

Another successful adventure for the JHAB Project! Until next time.

JHAB4 – Planning sessions

For our fourth flight (JHAB-4) – we’re going to try for an amateur altitude record. According to arhab.org/ – the current record is held by XABEN at 143,441 ft (43,721m) ! That’s impressive. Our goal will be at least 136,400 ft (or more).

To accomplish this, we’re creating a new capsule to lighted the payload to no more than 650g (1lb), and changing balloon’s to the 2000 gram Hwoyee Weather balloon.

Essentially – the flight plan is the lightest payload, biggest balloon, and very little helium. Based upon some current flight calculations, it will be about a 5 hour flight, and depending upon where we start – it could start at the California coast and end up as far as the California – Nevada boarder!

We’ll update again once we have more plans finalized.

JHAB3 – Radio Check – a Success!

Joshua's High Altitude Balloon Project

Our 3rd flight of the JHAB project was a success! The flight plan included a launch from our local high school, and recovery around 30 miles away in the Perris valley. Our goal with this flight was to use our new HAM radio transmitter, with APRS tracking, capture images from the downward view camera, and capture the decent on video. We were successful in all of our goals except for the decent. travel destinations Our GoPro, even with the extra battery pack, ran out of power before the burst and descent. We even had road side service at the recovery!

Using the HAM radio’s and aprs.fi tracking we were able to track it to the exact location. As we were zeroing in on the landing location, we noticed a jogger carrying the capsule up the street. He found it on the path he was running on minutes before we got to it. We pulled up along side, exchanged greetings, and he handed the entire payload to Josh through the passenger window. We didn’t even have to get out of the car. Easiest recovery yet!

You can view the launch information on our new JHAB Launch Page. Take a look at the aprs tracking results too, the extra effort to get our HAM license and tracking really paid off.

Still working on gathering all of the images, data and creating a video, which I’ll post soon.

Lake Mathews From 60K Feet

Lake Mathews From 60K Feet


JHAB - 3 Predicted vs Actual Flight Path

JHAB - 3 Predicted (yellow) vs Actual Flight Path (blue/red)

JHAB3 - APRS Radio information

JHAB3 - APRS Radio information - Balloon Green line, Chase car Blue line