Pecan Pico 9 Floater on SBS-12

Sven (DL7AD) has improved the Pecan Pico 9 design so that we can now use the much better OV5640 camera. We decided to use the good weather to launch our SBS-12 balloon and we prepared a solar powered payload with only supercaps. This doesn’t allow operation at night, but it’s sufficient to power everything including camera and picture transmissions during the day. This way the problematic LiPo batteries are avoided which cause problems at very low temperatures.
After a catastrophic launch (see video), everything worked fine. The pictures are transmited with 2x redundant packets through APRS and then forwarded to the SSDV server. We have some nice pictures coming down.

Payload weight: 17.45 g
Balloon hull: 92 g
Free lift: 8 g
Callsigns: DL7AD-12 (Telemetry, APRS); DL7AD (ssdv QVGA); DL4MDW (ssdv VGA)

APRS: DL7AD-12; telemetry
Pecan Pico 9: GitHub
Launch video: YouTube




Pecan Pico 9th Generation

I’m glad hat Sven (DL7AD) was able to use revive Pecan balloon tracker project for his master thesis. He has just started the development again with the focus on cost efficiency and easy production. The first Pecan Pico 9 PCBs arrived yesterday and we’ve immediately build up the first batch of 3 trackers. Sven has documented the Pecan Pico 9 version in depth at his GitHub.

HamRadio Exibition

A few impressions from the HamRadio 2016 in Friedrichshafen. The spiderbeam antenna behind my VW camper unfortunately belongs to the neighbor 🙂

The Kenwood TH-D72 radio will have a successor. It’ll become available end of 2016. Added features are D-Star, SSB (rx only), color display, 220 MHz option (probably not in Europe).

Sometimes I’m thinking that if I didn’t spend my money on all the cheap radios and parts, I might have been able to afford a Hilberling already.



Grossfunkstelle Nauen

I recently passed by the first and biggest commercial radio station Nauen in Germany (not far away from Berlin). From here the first German trans-atlantic contacts were made. The hight of each of the four rotating antennas is 80.5 m (264 ft). There is a smaller rotating antenna nearby which seems to be out of order, but you can have a closer view at it.

First SSDV Floater

It took us about half a year to develop a float capable camera tracker, but now it’s real! We’re just observing the first ssdv pictures coming in and (almost) everything works great. The total weight of the hardware (including 8 solar panels) is just below 30 gramm. We have chained 3 Qualatex 90 cm diameter balloons in a row and each of them has 14.3 g lift. This leaves us with about 9.5 g free lift (considering the tape weights 3.5g which we used to glue the ballons together). Due to some wind in the morning we had a hard time to clear the houses and trees at launch, but eventually we succeeded.

Life tracking & SSDV Links:


Wow! Munich International Airport.