Approximate Time to Launch
Launch is TODAY!
What is HABGab?
HABGab 2023 is a special event for the ham radio community in New England taking place in the Summer of 2023. Attached to a 2000g weather balloon will be suspended 3 payloads. One will contain a crossband UHF/VHF repeater, built from two linked Baofeng BF-F8HP HTs. This repeater will act as a 2-3 hr. one-time event for hams around New England. Anyone with a ham radio license is invited to try calling into the repeater during the flight. See if you can hear other's signals, and call in yourself to make a contact on this rare platform.
To make it even more exciting, the second payload will transmit live video of the flight from two cameras. The camera feed and repeater audio will be streamed live on YouTube from New England Sci-Tech.
The third payload will contain a number of science and engineering experiments from middle school students at New England Sci-Tech and Franklin's BFCCPS school as part of a new program called StratoScience Lab.
Sponsors for StratoScience Lab include:
- Take-Two Interactive: Ghost Story Games
- Eversole Associates
- WildWest Dan
- AI Measurements
When is HABGab?
The counter at the top of this page will reflect the tentative launch time for the HABGab balloon flight. Each weekend starting in July will be a new potential opportunity for flight, however, much depends on good weather and wind patterns. We will be running predictions and checking weather throughout July until a good launch date is found. As things look good for a particular day, the color of the counter will change to GREEN
. Please check back on this page regularly as the launch date approaches to get an up to date countdown. High altitude balloon flights can be frequently scrubbed many times before finally launching.
Where is HABGab?
There are 2 main places to participate in the event:
- Launch site will be located at: Tantasqua Vocational Regional High School
319 Brookfield Rd, Fiskdale, MA 01518
- HABGab HQ event at New England Sci-Tech - Natick, MA. This will be the nerve center of the operations for the event. We have a team on the roof managing the live stream and repeater operations, but down in the nice air conditioned makerspace/science center, we will have large screen feeds of the livestream, the live zoom meeting to the launch site and roof station, and various makerspace activities available, such as soldering workshops, battle-bots, woodworking, and tours of the facility. Joe Fitzgerald K1MP will also be onsite and dedicated to helping others make contact with the balloon repeater live over the radio! If you're a student, please try this station, and try talking through the repeater!
- Participate from Home: There are also a couple ways to participate in the event from home.
Watch the live stream on YouTube. The link will be posted here. Track the positions and altitudes of the payloads live on https://amateur.sondehub.org/. Information on which callsigns to look for are also posted here. Contact the repeater over the radio from your home or mobile station using the instructions below.
How to use the HABGab Repeater?
- You will need a UHF/VHF radio, whether a small 5 watt handheld or a higher powered mobile or base station radio. Click here for instructions on using a handheld radio to access the repeater.
- You'll need an antenna capable of UHF and VHF operation. A small rubber duck might work, but you'll have much better signal with a 1/4 or 5/8 wave ground plane, J-Pole, Slim Jim, etc. or directional Yagi-Uda antenna. With a hand held with an attached antenna, you may get a better signal if you hold the radio at about a 45 degree angle. During the flight, you will be able to check the balloon's position any time online at https://amateur.sondehub.org under the callsign W1U.
- You will want to program your radio for cross-band operation. The repeater's frequencies are currently set to:
Uplink (your transmit): 146.55 MHz
Downlink (your receive): 446.05 MHz
- When calling in, listen for the W1U station operator then try to making a contact! Please have your first name, last initial, town, and state for the contact exchange. If your contact is confirmed, you will receive a special event QSL card for HABGab 2023!
How do I watch the Live Stream?
CLICK HERE FOR LIVESTREAM
If you would like to try to receive the raw analog video yourself, you can tune your FPV receiver with your own antenna to 1.2 GHz.
How do I track the balloon payload's position and altitude?
The HABGab and StratoScience payloads will have several ham radio trackers aboard, which provide live position and altitude data to ground stations. These ground stations post this data to the internet in real time. This means you can view the position of the payload at any time during the flight by visiting this website, https://amateur.sondehub.org/, navigating to Massachusetts, and looking for these callsigns:
W1U - Main payload (transmitted by repurposed RS-41 radiosonde), which transmits on 432.501 MHZ with 4FSK.
W1U-15 - Main payload (transmitted by custom-built APRS transmitter), which transmits on 144.390 MHz on APRS.
W0MXX-15 - Autorotation device. Small, unpowered helicopter that will separate from main payload at 81k ft. and descend to the ground using autorotation. Tracker is a LightAPRS module. Transmits on 144.390 MHz on APRS.
KC1SFR-11 - Glider that will separate from main payload at 80k ft. and glide back to the ground. It will also deploy a parachute at roughly 3,000 ft. Transmits on 144.390 MHz on APRS.
KC1OAV - Also onboard will be a U4B Pico tracker being tested by KC1OAV in preparation for a circumnavigation flight to happen at a later date. This can be tracked separately at http://qrp-labs.com/tracking.html under the name NESciTech1.
HABGab 2023 has been made possible thanks to a grant from the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL).