Choten: The Launch

Time to let go… In the hope to get it back in one piece!


This blog post is number of a three part series detailing my experiences of building, launching and recovering a payload named Choten. The payload flew on a High Altitude Balloon reaching an altitude of up!

The proposed launch day soon came around. looking at the conditions, according to Dave it was possible to launch however it was going to be a challenge. My father and a fellow amateur radio friend Mike joined my “chase” team and we set of for Ross on Wye.

When we arrived at the launch site Dave (M0RPI) warmly welcomed us inside. We ran flight predictions for the payload for that day, inputting the balloon, chute and payload weights. Dave was kind enough to loan me a back up tracker which weighed a modest 40g all inclusive!

Dave’s back-up payload NM1 weighing in at 40g

Due to the winds blowing across the county Dave suggested that we bust the balloon earlier by adding more Hydrogen gas and also suggested to “reef” the parachute so that it would not fully deploy meaning it would decent quicker. This was to attempt to bring the distance of the landing position away from the sea.

Now it was time to pop the batteries in and set up the launch site. Dave suggested that the launch of the payload should take place at the bottom of his field to protect he payload from the ground winds. Before leaving the house, Dave and I tested that the payloads were still transmitting data. We then headed down to the launch site to set up.

Final prep to the payload and putting the Lithium batteries in

The tarp, tool box and gas canisters were carried down to the bottom of the field. I then laid out the Hwoyee balloon onto the tarp and cable tied the filling nozzle that Dave provided. I then began to slowly add the Hydrogen.

350g Hwoyee latex balloon before filling.

The balloon filled up quickly and the payload train was attached and it was time to let go! I must say at this point i was a little nervous. Holding onto the payload I waited until it was in front of me as instructed by Dave. Then when the light breeze pushed the balloon in front of me it was time to let go…

Payload floating off into the distance.

Once the payload was out of sign which did not take long at all, it was time to pack up the launch site and get in the car to begin the big chase.

Keep an eye out for the final part in the three part series about the payload chase. Meanwhile feel free to drop a comment below or if want to get in contact  drop me an email or find me on Twitter.


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