Propane in the Hydrogen Cylinder

Some people may have wondered why we have canceled the transatlantic attempt last Saturday. Tom (K5SAF) has rented a hydrogen cylinder from a reputable Houston welding supplier last week and we were all happy that it was so much cheaper than helium. The cylinder was red and had “HYDROGEN” in big letters written on it. We have prepared everything perfectly and Ron Sparks (A, note his surname!) was teaching a hydrogen safety lesson for all of us because this was the first hydrogen launch in our group. After marking the safety zones and grounding all metal parts that could potentially get electro-statically charged, we started filling a first foil balloon. I already noticed when it was partially filled that there was absolutely no lift. At full inflation the balloon dropped down on the floor like a stone. After carefully smelling at the gas we noticed that this must have been propane or something similar.


Of course there was no open welding supply store anywhere at reachable distance. So we decided to pick up some cans of party helium to launch at least the foil balloons. When we started filling the foil balloons my precision scale was broken. Some wires in the power supply were ripped off in our rush packing activity. Therefore we had to fill the balloons rather approximately. I believe that at least 2 balloons must have burst because of over-filling so that it slowly came down. We’re still planning on launching the Hwoyee when we get real hydrogen and the predictions and weather is good.

Pictures by Tom (K5SAF)


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