Space Camera 2

“Project HoHoHo III”
This is the second meteorological balloon i have launched. It included some sensors, two flightcomputers and four (!) camera’s. The project failed due to the radio breaking during launch, so i lost all contact, and the payload was recovered 2 months later by a German lady. Also, only one camera worked, and that actualy videotaped for 3.5 hours on just 2 AA batteries. So all is left is the video, which turned out great.

Flight Statistics

Cost €150
Launch 19-12-2010 (13:32 GMT+1)
Recovery 26-02-2011 (DHL package)
Distance (ground) >275km
Time-to-burst 2:40h
Time-to-ground ~3:40h
Max. Altitude ~31km
Weight ~1000g
Contents Sensors, Flightcomputer (x2), Camera (x4)

Video: Compilation

Several Pictures

Where did it go wrong?

I turned the payload on, everything worked. Then i turned the radio off, and let the payload go. Then i turned the radio back on, and everything was distorted. At least the flightcomputer worked 3 minutes, since it made the EOS350D take a few pictures, and it sent me a textmessage that it worked (via the T68i). Then, something went wrong with the powersupply, making the entire flightcomputer and the EOS350D it controlled fail. The cellphone worked too, because it had received a “Welcome to Germany!” textmessage when it landed there. But, the flightcomputer was broken, so it did not parse through a textmessage with GPS info to the phone.

Trajectory of the balloon


Eventually the payload landed after a long time in the air in an orchard in Osterholz-Schambeck, above Bremen, at the hight of Denmark. After two months i got a phonecall from a very nice lady named Claudia (danke!), and after paying the findersfee and the postage, it took two days after receiving the box. Besides the experience, i now have all the equipment back here, for possibly a new project.

Payload Contents

Red=Did not work  Green=Worked

Canon EOS350D Took 10 pictures the first 3 minutes.
Canon A560 Took 1 picture the first minute.
Canon A720IS Videotaped 3:30hr (!)
Spycam Keychain HD Videotaped 1:00hr but iPhoto corrupted the microSD
Parachute Worked but ripped on touchdown
Radio 434.650MHz RTTY 50b, 5n1(baudot), 350Hz shift
Release mechanism Release when >22km or when falled 600m or past 5.695deg longitude Failed due to power failure
GPS Tyco Vinotech Sirf III (libelium)
Flightcomputer Sensors, chips, SD log: all failed due to power failure

Video: Unpacking the Payload[3D!]


Many thanks to the radio and uk-high-altitude-society community (@freenode #highaltitude on IRC) for helping me track and the support. Too many names to mention! Most of all terry baum(code), daniel richman(code/general), james coxon(website/general), ‘fsphil’(general), ‘random’(general/electronics), eric de jong (tracking), Lunar_Lander(?) (support) And special thanks to the team: Daniela (support), Onno (driving)

20 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    Hi Tim,

    do you know if you need an allowance from the air traffic control to start a stratosphere helium ballon in the netherlands ? over here in germany you need it – since I’m located relatively near the border netherlands/germany would make sense to do a “hop” and avoid official allowances


  2. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    Congrats on the HoHo-3 flight results. Your design concept to have redundant powersources by leaving the individual batteries in the camera’s proved to be a good choice allowing us to see the flight movie. (Too bad we did not see an aircraft passing by……amazing that the optics did not get fogged)
    Your preliminary report indicates…first 3 minutes A-OK, then a powersupply failure developed disabling the FlCC and as a result loss of GPS Downlink.
    Question: Your PS is a set of serial connected AA-cells?, did they still show capacity at recovery? loss of power due to poor (wired) connection or intercell discontinuity?
    Again, I enjoy your experiments and applaud the results……

  3. Eric says:

    The sneak preview is great. Looking forward the some moving footage.

  4. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    Your colorfull recovery parachute probably was what caught the eye of Claudia. Well Tim you are fortunate your next flight has to be called CLAUDIA rather than a weird name of a German farmer…….
    I am very anxious to read about your findings on the flight evaluation, hopefully it will reveal why you lost commo links with the balloon.
    Let’s hope TNT, DHL, UPS etc donot screw up and get you the package safely back home.
    This recovery shall help you to keep up the good work in hi-altitude missions using a minimum budget…….well done

  5. Eric says:

    Looking at the outside it looks ok to me.


  6. Eric says:

    Geweldig nieuws. Ben benieuwd naar het waar, wie en waarom nu pas en of de apparatuur nog enige bruikbare data oplevert !


    • Tim Zaman says:

      Het “waarom nu pas” is eenvoudig. De kinderen vonden het in december in de tuin, maar ze had er geen tijd voor in verband met vakantie en werk :), ach, sommige mensen worden gewoon niet warm van piepschuim dozen.

  7. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    Dat was dus een lange vlucht, nu de data uitlezen en publiceren?
    GEWELDIG dat ie na 3 maanden weer ‘boven water’ is

    Gefeliciteerd, (of houd iemand je voor de gek?)

  8. Jan says:

    Is jullie pay-load nog steeds niet terug?
    Stel mij en 10 andere radiosonde zoekers in Nederland op de hoogte van jullie volgende experimenten, waarschijnlijk kunnen we behulpzaam zijn met het terugvinden. Ook kan ik je een oude radiosonde aanbieden, zend uit op een vaste freq in de meteoband 400-406 Mhz. het weder gebruik van een meteo sonde lijkt mij niet strafbaar.


  9. Eric says:

    Hi Tim,

    Sorry to hear the project ‘ended’ this way. I hope that the sonde will be returned. I know that the majoruty of the ozon-sondes lauchend by the KNMI weekly are returned once found by someone. My experience with hunting radiosondes also tells me that there are a lot of trees in the Netherlands and Germany and things falling from the sky under a parachute have a kind of attraction for falling into woods and trees…
    I presume you have your adress details included in the box so any finder of the box can contact you. Once they have opened it and after they have discovered the tracking devices like the GPS tag they think the box can be tracked so the camera’s and other equipement will not be stolen. At least I wouldn’t.

    When I find the box with it’s content I will contact you and you can keep your 125 euro’s for further experiments.


    Eric (Heerenveen)

  10. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    The team set at least the record of driving 430 km in a little over 5 hours on sunday 19 december while roadconditions were icy and speedlimits of 50 km/hr on hi-ways were enforced….Driver Onno…a job well done.

    …and Tim, there maybe an option #0 that your balloon is still up as it failed to rupture :-).
    Lessons learned: perform temperature soak and shock test to electronics and run telemetrics on tethered balloon just prior to launch.

    To expedite recovery & return procedure you need some media attention, a 5 minutes airtime at e.g. De Wereld Draait Door or a call via Radio Fryslan might help.

    Looking forward to follow your next experiment

  11. Tim Zaman says:

    No 1000Mhz would be insane indeed, it was actually 1000Hz it started with, drifting until ardoun 5000Hz before totally failing.

  12. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    What goes up, must come down…..
    Tim, did it splash down, or crash on solid grounds?
    A 1000 MHz shift? yes it is cool outside but an x-tal cannot drift that much…
    Back to the drawing board and enjoy your holidays

  13. Bram Stolk Sr says:

    I noticed you did not manage to have todays 19 dec noon liftoff…..
    When will be your next launch window?

  14. Hannah says:

    Hello, what website/program did you use to predict the flight path of the balloon?

  15. Ron Groenestein says:

    Hi Tim,

    Wat een geweldig project. Wie zegt er nog dat er geen ondernemerschap is in Nederland?
    Om jouw payload op te halen is het wellicht mogelijk de KNRM (reddingsmaatschappij) te interesseren om als een oefening jouw payload op te laten halen als hij in het IJsselmeer terechtkomt. Dat moet lukken want je wilt zelf de ballon los kunnen laten. Je kunt ze met jouw vorige project overtuigen dat het geen grap is.

    Heel veel succes,

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