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Bear (Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio)-4 HD Camera Flight
Near space is within the Stratosphere and Ozone layers, from 75,000 feet to the beginning of space at 62.5 miles. The earth’s curvature and thin blue layer of atmosphere hugging the earth can easily be seen from here and at 117,000 ft. the horizon is at 460 miles, rather then only 2-3 miles when standing at ground level, and the air pressure is less then 1% of that at sea level. With so little atmosphere there is no filtering of cosmic rays or ultraviolet light, blue sun light is not scattered, the sky is inky black, stars are visible and there’s no weather, so always bright and sunny, but very cold at -60 to -90 degrees Fahrenheit.
A small group of us in the Sherwood Park / Edmonton area decided to start launching high altitude balloons with experimental amateur radio payloads and nickname them BEAR (Balloon Experiments with Amateur Radio) after watching others do this and seeing no reason why they should have all the fun. We are not a club or official group, but simply individual amateurs with similar interests, common goal and hope that BEAR projects, which anyone is welcome to participate in, will help promote education, experimentation & camaraderie between all amateurs and amateur radio clubs in the area.
The balloon and camera were launched at 7:44 AM, the balloon burst at 10:51 AM at 107,145 ft. and the camera landed via parachute at 11:40 AM, 89 miles from the launch site after a 3 hr. & 56 min. flight. The camera recorded a total of 4 hrs. & 22 min. of Hi-Def Video before it stopped recording 53 secs after landing, when its 32GB of memory was full. The only thing better would have been if the camera had recorded for several minutes more to captured the sound of us approaching and video of us opening its container.
The camera captures a nice view of a local TV Tower at 2:50 (min. & secs into the video), 3:16 and several other times. The haze is from high humidity and it’s unfortunate that the sky wasn’t as clear as it usually is and was for SABLE-3. At 5:45 the camera is nearing 107,145 ft. where there’s basically no air to conduct sound so nothing is heard other then what vibrations are conducted through the supporting cords, Styrofoam box and camera body to the camera microphone, like the bursting of the balloon at 6:26. Some of the balloon remains can be seen falling past the lens at 6:27 and then the fun begins as the Styrofoam box with the camera inside is repeatedly struck by the antenna hanging below and the several pounds of latex remaining from the burst balloon as everything tumbles every which way back to earth at up to 7900 ft./min (90 mph) in the near vacuum until there’s enough air for the parachute to start functioning. The beeping first heard at 9:13 is my car door alarm as I got out to watch the camera land and at 9:36 the camera catches those tracking it as we stand on the road and watch it pass by before landing a few seconds later.
BEAR-4 was a balloon flight for Tomoya Kamiko from Japan who emailed on May 23rd after seeing the SABLE-3 photos to say that he would like “to take a photograph of the space, too!” and ask if I would help him send a Hi-Def Video Camera aloft . Tomoya didn’t know English, but was willing to learn and come to Canada to do this so how could I say no. He didn’t even have a video camera, but bought a Hi-Def one the day I agreed to help him and made travel plans to come for a balloon flight in August soon after that.