MIT Lincoln Lab employee Brian Smigielski, AB1ZO, has been awarded funding to design a course in which participants will learn how to build a prototype High Altitude Balloon Carrying Amateur Radio (HABCAR).
“The [MIT Lincoln Lab] Technology Office wanted to create another kit building course where each kit would have a price point of about $400/kit,” writes Brian. “I had suggested a Build-Your-Own High Altitude Balloon Carrying Amateur Radio course focused on a long-endurance flight using WSPR and transmitting back telemetry (as well as other sensor related data) using the “invalid” WSPR messages which begin with a 0 or Q (that are now searchable on WSPRnet.org). Luckily Jon and I had our idea make it all the way through and were awarded funding for prototype development as well as course development.”
Assisting Brian with the project are: Jon Schoenberg, AA1FH, Paul Therrien, and Ben Martin, W1BPM. “Ben was a student in the amateur radio course who expressed interest in helping out.”
“We have been working pretty diligently since early winter 2019 purchasing COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) parts, interacting with other hams who have helped accelerate our learning (Jared Smith N7SMI), and iterating our hardware/software designs. We expect our first launch will be on or about September 14.”
If all goes well, Brian thinks this will turn into a course for employees, then potentially for local area high school kids, boy and girl scout troops, or other STEM groups in the area.