For Immediate Release:
Greetings Eastern NM and West Texas Clubs
I am Gordon Beevers, President of Eastern New Mexico Amateur Radio Club and Radio Comms Advisor for AFJROTC NM-021 located in Clovis, NM. I would like to bring to your attention an upcoming event, that should prove to be very exciting for hams in the region.
ENMARC has been working with our local Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) cadets at Clovis High School for the past several years with radio related projects. This year AFJROTC NM-021 is planning a mission that will involve participation with local area and regional hams. NM-021 will be conducting a
High Altitude Balloon Launch Operation (HALO), scheduled for April 11, 2020.
This High Altitude Balloon (HAB) will have a payload including APRS and a 2m beacon. The projected altitude goal for the HAB is 110,000 to hopefully 120,000 ft. As you can guess this will result in a huge radio footprint and a possible mission path exceeding 100+ miles from the launch site in Clovis. Tracking a mission of this sort needs to have several redundancies. This is where your club at its members can be part of the mission.
I would like to see about having a number of operators across West Texas and Eastern NM with rotatable 2m beams that can lock onto the 2m beacon and report their location (possibly with grid square?) and heading of the signal to the Mission Command Center (MCC). Further, these stations with beams will be able to report when the balloon has exceeded max altitude and burst the balloon. This is accomplished by noting the beacon signal strength becoming erratic due to the payload tumbling as it falls before air density becomes great enough for the parachute to stabilize This reporting will be done via an HF net that will be stood up for this mission. Stations with rotatable VHF beams, but no HF capability may be able to report via VHF/UHF to a fellow local ham with HF to relay the report.
Frequency of the beacon and HF net is not yet determined, but will likely be a 40m frequency to take advantage of NVIS propagation. I will provide information concerning as it is determined to interested clubs and hams. The HF net is also planned to handle communications between Mission Command and the recovery team. If comms between MCC and the recovery team degrade, stations on this net may also be requested to relay comms to the mobile HF vehicle. This net will be setup as a directed formal net with a NCS. I would also request that stations with APRS capability participate and report periodically via the HF net. The HAB should possibly hit an IGATE along the way, but more “eyes” on it will certainly help.
This is a developing plan and any ideas you all may have is certainly welcome. The goal of all of this ultimately is a fun operation that can bring together a large amount of Amateurs together over a large part of the region on the air to help make sure NM-021s mission is a success.
I ask that you please respond as soon as possible as to your interest and possibly a list of interested Amateurs that are willing to participate from your respective clubs. As well, I have had difficulty obtaining emails for many clubs and would appreciate this mission and information being passed as widely as possible to region hams.
Thank you for your time and 73
Gordon Beevers, KC5VOX
Radio Comms Advisor, AFJROTC NM-021