Eclipse Ballooning Bench Test #2

Since the first bench test last week (June 13, 2017), I had to do additional updates to get the Arduino on the base station tracking system. After getting all of the Arduino libraries installed in the correct place, I was able to upload the new software and tested the tracker out yesterday (June 18, 2017). I kept getting the system to point away from the payloads again, but finally determined that my special tracking number for the Iridium modem was resetting to the default and it looked very similar to our number. So, the antenna was trying to look at the Minnesota’s team last position which happened to be to the north when our payloads were to the south of our base station.

We were able to get the tracking working this morning in time for our part in the nationwide bench test in preparation for the Eclipse Ballooning Dry Run in Grand Island tomorrow (June 20, 2017).

Once we were up and running, the streaming service using ffmpeg worked like a charm. I can set that part up within one minute if the tracking is working properly.

Since NASA was going to be monitoring our streams during this test, we thought it would be nice to send them a little message.

It looks like about 18 teams were actively streaming at one time.

We lost the video stream three times during the two hours we were set up. One time, the PC went to sleep. I’ll have to check the settings and make sure that it is set to never go to sleep. The other two times, we lost connection with the Iridium server. We had really stable internet connection so I wonder if there was a hiccup with the traffic on the server. The technical support at MSU says that they only had one other team report difficulty accessing the server. It just took a couple minutes to reset things after that happened, so it is good to know that we could do that while it is in flight.

We need to pack for the practice flight in Grand Island tomorrow. The prediction has the balloon traveling southeast and landing near Bruning, NE. The Eclipse Ballooning team working with NASA and the FAA has already filed our NOTAM (Notice to Airmen). Our landing zone is in the middle of a Lincoln MOA (Military Operations Area). We contacted the Minneapolis Air Route Control Center to see if we needed make any further contacts regarding landing in this zone. We were told by the Watch Desk that as long as we filed our NOTAM, all should be good.

I am looking forward to seeing how well and how far the video streaming works while the balloon is in the air. Wish us luck!