JHAB-1 – First Flight

Balloon Launch Status

Launch Readiness Status go
Launch readiness has been evaluated, and is currently GO. No foreseeable issues with launch progress.

Launch Completed: 09/18/2011 @ 10:08completed
This balloon was launched on 09/18/2011 at 10:08. Launch was completed at 1:11.

Mission Flight Director name Joshua Nagel email nageljp27@gmail.com

Launch Location: Hesperia Truck StopOpen in Google Maps


Description of Launch

JHAB1 - Our initial test flight. JHAB1 was equipped with a still and a HD video camera – Canon PowerShot A480 and a GoPro HD video camera. For tracking we have an iPhone with instamapper, and a SPOT GPS.

Link to the Flight record http://jhabproject.com/jhab-first-flight-photos/

Payload Details

Payload Weight: 1.179 kilograms / 2.5938 pounds
The weight of the payload in kilograms.

Balloon Weight: 1.2 kilograms / 2.64 pounds
The weight of the balloon in kilograms.

Payload Details

Canon PowerShot A480 and a GoPro HD video camera. iPhone, SPOT GPS device

Post Flight Details

Flight PathDownload KMZ File 0
The KMZ file contains all the packets collected via the Amateur Radio Network, viewable in google earth. If you download the file into Google Earth, you can view the 3D version.

Landing LocationOpen in Google Maps

Flight Information

Landing Time: 1:11
The time that the balloon landed on the ground.

Flight Time: 03:03:00
The length of time that the balloon was airborne. Formatted as HH:MM:SS.

Maximum Altitude: 33.8 kilometers / 21 miles
The maximum altitude the balloon reaches in kilometres.

Flight Media

Flickr Slideshow

Youtube Video

11 thoughts on “JHAB-1 – First Flight

  1. Hello,

    Hope you are well.

    Hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you for help.

    Im part of a small team that is looking to launch helium balloons just like the one you have had success with. Our aim is to launch 13 of these balloons around the world as an album launch and send not only a mp3 player with the bands album on repeat but also send the information from the HD camera back to the web and steam it live to bands fans around the world. Yes it is going to be an epic task but we are up for the challenge.

    I was hoping to get more details in the following items you used for your launch:

    GPS NAVIGATION: What brand and model number did you use and did you find it worked productively? Any other suggestions on the best way to follow the course of the balloon right up until it lands?

    GOPROHD: I noticed a log of videos on line shows the GoPro without any protection. With the temperature change up so high would you suggest it be insulated or it really doesn’t matter?

    PARACHUTE: This one we are struggling to work out. We gather the shoot is there too slow the balloon down after it pops but what type of parachute is suitable, where is such a think purchased, were about on the balloon do you attach it, how does it actually open up and is it really necessary at all?

    ROPE: Is it important to have the camera attached to a longer piece of rope below the string the close up under the balloon? I’ve noticed people do both and I’m wondering what is the reason behind it.

    Thanks so much

    • Jamie,
      Happy to help!.
      You can check out our parts list, we’ve complied a listing of how we built our rig. http://jhabproject.com/parts-list/

      To answer your question specifically though:
      GPS Navigation – We used the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit, with good results. The best results however is to you a HAM radio with APRS. Here is a site where they sent 7 balloons with Andriod phones up http://android.hibal.org/ – Using the HAM radios gets more involved, as you have to be a licensed HAM operator or contact a local HAM club, they could help. The low tech way, with pretty good results though is use the SPOT. It is great at tracking below 60,000 feet (18kM).

      GoPRO – The GoPro rating can withstand the temperatures using the case. I would highly recommend the anti-fog inserts though!

      Parachutes – For payloads of 3 pounds (1.3kg), which is the optimal weight, you want a 4 foot parachute. We purchased ours at Rocketman http://www.the-rocketman.com/recovery.html – great parachutes, reasonably priced.

      Rope – One of the biggest issues you will run into is capsule spin. It really depends upon the winds. There are different designs which try to reduce this spin but you’ll still get some. I haven’t seen where they hand the camera separately from the payload, based upon the size of the GoPro it would cause a great deal of spin. You want it attached to the payload. I have seen people use several GoPro’s mounted for horizontal images, and vertical images pointing upward at the balloon to capture the increase in size and the burst. Really up to you.

      From what you’ve said about your goals – you’ll have two bigger challenges (not including the challenges of launching and recovering):
      First capturing the sound – You’ll need to use the GoPro case which allows sound, when it slows it’s ascent after passing through the jet stream you should be able to hear it well. The pressure may actually change the sound though, should be really interesting. The bigger problem will after the balloon bursts and it starts to descend – there is a lot of wind. I would place the mp3 player as close to the back of the GoPro as possible. You could test this – setup your GoPro and MP3 unit together and strap it on your car – turn both on, and drive around at about 50-60 miles per hour (90km) – see if you can hear the music.

      You also say you want to stream the video – is this during the flight or after you recover? If during the flight this is beyond my expertise – as it would require transmitting the images and sound live, which we have never done. I have seen others attempt to transmit via radio the video, you would need to search this out.

      Sounds like a really ambitious and exciting project – let us know if we can help or even be one of your 13 launches, we’d be happy to participate

      Ken and Josh
      The JHAB Project.

  2. Hello there,

    You are awesome. I am a student of Cyprus University of Technology, and i’ve searched similar projects. I have experience with arduino-microcontrollers- and i want to make with my scientists research partners the same project but because my father is a ham radio operator i want to combine it with something ham. I don’t know mayby to transmit live something.

    Continue with god bless,
    Thank you!

  3. Dear JHAB Project,

    I really liked your launches, especially the second one. I’m interested in model rockets, balloons, and science in general.
    I have a suggestion. If you launch another balloon, I think I know how your payload can exceed 130,000 feet. Kaymontballoons.com [the company you buy your balloons from] largest balloon’s estimated burst altitude is 118,500 feet [if the payload weighs 4.4 pounds], and [provided you got Level 1 High Power Certified] could make a model rocket that could travel the remaining distance to 130,000 feet! (I would keep 2,000 spare feet with the rocket, just in case.) This is a sequence of how it might work.
    1. The balloon lifts off, carrying the model rocket with it.
    2. After surviving 100 mph winds and -60 degrees F, the lower stage of the 3-stage model rocket ignites, moments after the balloon pops [of course, the motors and electronics would have to be kept warm].
    3. When the rocket reaches peak height, the parachute deploys, slowing it down.
    4. Transmitting its GPS coordinate, the upper stage lands.
    This is more risky than your other flights, because about 1/12 of the time, the motor fails to ignite. I think you might have to use at least one H or I motor, which you can only get if you are high-powered certified.
    I loved your past launches!

    Sean (8 years old from California)

    • Hi Sean,
      Really interesting idea. Josh and I are not as familiar with rocketry as you. What do we use to communicate to the rocket to ignite its engine once the balloon bursts? Can we send a signal to it? – Really cool idea!


  4. Hello again,

    Hope all things are going well. There is a piece of electronics called an accelerometer, which, as you might guess, measures acceleration. Of course, you would have to program it so the 100 mph winds wouldn’t set it off [there are at least 2 ways to do this, probably more]. The thing that ignites the rocket is a little piece of thin nickel-chrome wire, which gets very hot when electricity flows through it, igniting the motor [trust me, even without the motor [which is also called an engine] it melts in a few seconds]. You would also have to have to make sure that the rocket couldn’t touch the balloon, since you don’t want the balloon to pop too early, which would destroy everything.


    notes: look up apogee rockets on Google. You can send a signal to the rocket from the ground, and I think the best way to stop it from launching prematurely is to use an altimeter to disable the accelerometer until it’s above 110,000 feet.

  5. Hello I am also working on design project for the same thing. I just have a question on launching. Did you guys get FAA approval to do the launch? If so, how did you go about this?

  6. Hi guys, really great work. I love you movie – and I love the music in it as well. Can you tell me the name of the song?


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