Australian Ham’s “PicoSpace” Balloon Circumnavigates the Globe


A foil, party-type balloon carrying a ham radio payload has circumnavigated the globe. Launched on April 6 by Australian radio amateur Andy Nguyen, VK3YT, of Kensington, Victoria, Australia, the balloon, designated PS-41, completed its round-the-world journey on April 16 and is still in the air. Along the way, it has been tracked by a network of Amateur Radio operators. Nguyen has been trying since early last year to have one of his launches go full circle.

“PS-41 crossed the starting longitude of 144.903 at 11:20 AM AEST (0120 UTC) this morning, completing the first PicoSpace around-the-world trip,” Nguyen posted on April 16. “Thanks to everyone for assistance with tracking and providing encouragement for the project; the trip would not have been possible without you.” In January, Nguyen’s PS-30 balloon went down in suspected poor weather off the east coast of Africa near Madagascar.

The solar-powered, helium-filled PS-41 balloon carried an HF payload, sending WSPR spots and JT9 telemetry on 30 and 20 meters from a 25 mW transmitter. The high-attitude PS-41 took a path over Tasmania, then south of New Zealand, the southern tip of South America, directly over the South Georgia and South Sandwich islands, well south of Africa, and back across to Australia.

Nguyen’s companion PS-42 balloon has made its way to the South Pacific between New Zealand and South America.

“PS-41 and PS-42 are still in the air and will continue to be tracked in the coming days,” Nguyen said. The balloons have been extensively tracked via JT9 by a network in Australia, New Zealand, South America, South Africa, and Ireland. WSPR spots have as received all over the world. Dial frequencies are 10.1387 MHz and 14.0956 MHz. PS-41 is at 900 Hz, and PS-42 is at 1100 Hz on the waterfall. — Thanks to Jim Linton, VK3PC




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