Saturday, May 5, 2012


A 'Eureka' moment! I have been trying to figure out how to reduce battery use on the balloon. The greatest suck on the 12v is the VHF radio. So, delete it. I've found in diving, for example, and on the ice cap expeditions, that detailed and continuous back-and-forth communications are not necessary. So, I will sort out a series of 24 codes that I can send to the ground, just by pushing a button, say at 1-min intervals. 1=All OK, ascending, 2=All OK, holding altitude, 3=All OK, descending, right on through to 24 possible signals. This enormously reduces battery power consumption; just a blip every 60 seconds, rather than continuous comms. I can also carry a very light solar panel to 'trickle charge' the 12v in the event that I do need back-and-forth comms. I thought I'd nix all of this by just taking up a cell phone, making a very long call (just leave it on for the whole flight), but the FAA prohibits pilots of any kind using a cell.


1 = all ok, ascending
2 = all ok, passing 20k ft
3 = all ok, passing 30k ft
4 = all ok, passing 40k ft
5 = all ok, at 50k ft
6 = all ok, desceding
7 = all ok, descending through 40k ft
8 = all ok, descending through 30k ft
7 = all ok, descending through 20k ft
8 = all ok, descending through 10k ft
9 = emergency, working to solve
10 = emergency, critical
11 = bailing out

Others to be decided. No need to limit it to 24. Main point is to decide what messages are of use in informing ground crew, and a bit of logic-work to prevent miscommunications. A logic tree is needed. Easy (and fun) to build.

Recently read that airline pilots routinely send txt msgs to air traffic control (by radio, not cells), not to save on battery pwr, but just to speed things up and to, specifically _avoid_ the complexities that come up with direct, constant 2-way communications. Interesting. Mayb Il lrn 2 txt.

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