While out at my new favourite spot for HF radio the other weekend, I happened to notice an odd callsign pop up on APRS:-
Holding a UK callsign, it doesn’t take much to recognise another one when you see it. This wasn’t any normal APRS station, though – it was a high altitude balloon on its way around the world!
Leo Bodnar M0XER has been making and releasing high-altitude balloons for some time, and a few have made it all the way around the world. At the time, this one (using the SSID M0XER-6) was just over 100km south of me, over the Olympic National Park in Washington state. It eventually came within 95km of me, before heading eastwards and eventually crossing the border into Canada.
Leo’s balloons are a great example of what APRS can be used for, and more information (including a map of the flight path) about this particular balloon (also known as B-66) can be found here.
I’ve recently started operating portable from the Coburg Peninsula, which is a narrow strip of land by the historic Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse. Situated in the south of Colwood, BC, it looks out onto the Strait of Juan De Fuca and therefore has great takeoff on HF, especially to the south towards Washington and the rest of the continental US.
So far I’ve managed to work all over the US and in Europe, including W1AW/P and stations in Hungary and Slovenia. I’m using a Kenwood TS480SAT for SSB and a Yaesu FT897D for digimodes, with an Acer netbook running FLdigi for the digimodes and logging.
I’m hoping to get my second callsign of VA7HTJ on the air over the coming weeks, and some testing for the upcoming CQWW SSB contest.