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Radio Amateur Takes Off on Transatlantic Cluster Balloon Attempt


Radio amateur Jonathan Trappe, KJ4GQV, of Raleigh, North Carolina is trying to cross the Atlantic in a cluster balloon. He took off September 12 at 1200 UTC from Caribou, Maine. According to a reporton AMSAT-UK, Trappe is carrying Amateur Radio beacons on 14.0956 MHz and 144.390 MHz APRS.

The 14.0956 MHz beacon is just above the WSPR frequency (approximately 1880 Hz in the waterfall display), running 110 Baud ASCII RTTY (8N1) and using the call sign NGØX. The multimode transmitter will transmit at 10 minute intervals at :00, :10, :20, :30, :40 and :50 on the clock. APRS on 144.390 MHz FM will be transmitted while the cluster balloon remains near the US and Canada. It uses Trappe’s call sign, KJ4GQV.

A real-time track of NGØX on 14.0956 and an APRS track (within 150 miles or so of land) are available. You also can receive updates on Trappe’s progress from the pilot himself via satellite messenger. There’s more information on Trappe’s Cluster Balloon website, and updates are on Trappe’s Facebook page.

According to his website, Trappe inflated the balloon cluster with helium September 11 and waited for a storm to pass before launching from extreme northern Maine.

“Two years of work comes down to tonight, and then this flight,” Trappe says on his website. “Two years of work, and years more of dreams. My heart could never live a long life the way it is beating now.”




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