Monthly Archives: March 2015

MCC Launch 3/28/15

Greetings High Altitude Ballooners and Observers,

{Please feel free to forward this information to anyone you would like to invite to watch the launch.}

We are a currently a go for Saturday, March 28th, 2015 to send the MCC General Physics II students’ payloads to near space.

​ Students will arrive at 8 am at the South Omaha Campus, Mahoney Room 400 for last minute payload construction and an overview of the day.

Because the path of the balloon goes directly over Offutt Air Force base if we launch from SOC, we plan to launch at Lake Manawa.

We will caravan over around 8:30-8:45 am and set up in the large parking lot on the South side of the lake with the launch taking place about 10 am. The 5-day forecast for Saturday right now has partly cloudy with a high of 54 degrees F and 16 mph winds to the SE. I am attaching a copy of the prediction from today. It has the balloon traveling over 70 miles and landing near Falls City, Nebraska.

We are asking observers to arrive at Lake Manawa around 9:30 am. Here is a link to where we will be launching at Lake Manawa on Saturday. The yellow bubble shows the parking lot. Zoom out to see the roads leading to the lake. To view your map, click on the link below or copy and paste it to your browser:​

prediction 3:28:15


Nebraska AAPT meeting 3/7/15

I hosted the Nebraska AAPT meeting at the Institute for Culinary Arts on the MCC Fort Omaha Campus.

Michael gave a talk updating the group on the high-altitude ballooning program.


Representatives of the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience demonstrated some of their educational kits.


We toured our Fab Lab and saw some of the new things they have produced.


We also got to make some custom dog tags with our addresses on them using the CO2 laser cutter.


Camera stabilization platform

During our last flight, we lost one of our Go Pro cameras that was mounted to the size of a pod because it likely got ripped off when falling through the trees after it separated from the rest of the balloon and fell from 70,000 ft. I was visiting the Fab Lab at MCC to check on another project and Tom Pensabene, the Dean of IT and e-Learning, asked if I had any projects with the ballooning that might require an engineering solution. He had forged a relationship with a new engineering company and was interested in collaborating on an interesting project. We met with Dane Foster of KuL 3D and a couple of their engineers. They do 3D printing projects and rapid prototyping.

In our discussion, I mentioned how we would like to get better video from the balloon. Usually, we mount a Go Pro camera to a pod and it is subject to the whim of the winds which includes a lot of twisting and tilting. If I watch the footage at regular speed, it is almost enough to give me motion sickness. There are some simple solutions to get more stable video footage, including making a large PVC frame to minimize the twisting or attaching the camera directly to the balloon rather than a pod. The solution we chose to pursue involved purchasing 3 new Go Pro 3+ cameras because of their light weight and a frame that would allow them to take video simultaneously and stitch it together into a panorama in a  video editing program.

With their permission, I am able to share photos of the prototype. We plan to do a test launch on March 14, 2015. I think it is a clever and elegant solution and I can’t wait to see test video from it.