The day has arrived and you have everything you need! What’s next? Coordinate the monkeys!
During the development of the project we started with the following teams: Logistics, Hardware, Software and Media. However, as the launch date approached, we realized it was better to reorganize us in these new teams:
They were our eyes! Without them there would have been chaos! This team was in charge of:
We definitely did more than launching!
It was our responsibility to fill the balloon without bursting it!! Therefore, we read a lot of posts and watch many tutorials about how to inflate a weather balloon. We recommend you these two: Inflating a Weather Balloon from High Altitude Science, and How to fill a weather balloon from StratoStarTv.
The first thing we did after arriving to the launch site and settling things up, was to attach the Weather Balloon Inflator to the helium gas cylinder and to the balloon. The regulator on the inflation system screws directly into the valve at the top of the gas cylinder, and the inflation system nozzle goes inside the weather balloon’s neck. We secured this by wrapping both of them with electrical tape.
Then, we started inflating it. Remember that the balloon must be filled slowly, and it’s better if you keep one hand on the valve so you can easily control the rate at which you inflate your weather balloon.
When the balloon starts floating, means it’s time to measure its lift. We decided to fill the balloon until it got its maximum lift (for more information read Plan the whole crazy thing).
Once the balloon has the right amount of lift, you have to shut off the supply of helium.
What was the point of launching the balloon if the parachute wouldn’t open or the box would fall before the bursting? Tying off the balloon to payload is an art! We actually learned how to tie knots! We recommend you to check the following links: Tying off a weather balloon from HAS and How to prepare a weather balloon for launch from StratoStartTV.
First, we made the balloon line. With a 3-meter rope we created 3 loops of 5 cm, one in the middle and one on each side, as show in the picture. We made them using the 8 knot used for climbing.
Then, we tied up the balloon’s neck to the balloon line. In order to achieve this, we twisted the neck of the balloon and added a couple of zip-ties that passed through both loops (see image and pretend the cardboard tube is the balloon’s neck hihi). This also prevented the helium to escape from the balloon. After that, we clipped the end of the zip-ties off with the pliers and covered them with the electrical tape to protect the balloon from any sharp edges.
The next step was to fold in half the twisted balloon neck, repeat the process of adding a couple of zip-ties through the loops, clip the zip-ties, and wrap with more electrical tape.
With this setup we were really confident that there would be no helium leaks and that the balloon line would support the weight it was going to carry.
We used a 3-meter rope to make the payload line. We started by folding the rope in half and creating a loop in the middle using the 8 knot. Then, we set the middle part of the rope where we created the loop in the middle top of the box. We went all the way to the bottom, to twist and change the direction of the line and return the top. After that, we used a couple of square knots around the loop and tightly secure them. Remember to move the side cords a little, so they don’t interfere with the cameras. Finally, to secure and avoid the rope from moving, we used duct tape.
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The last step was to tie up everything using the 5-meter main line. We decided to tie the parachute 2 meters above the payload, so we added a 8-knot loop there. We chose that distance in order to have enough space for the antenna (that comes from the box). We secured the antenna to the line with another zip-tie and electrical tape, and the top of parachute with a simple knot (like the ones we use for tying our shoes).
Now that we had everything ready and tied up, we just needed to…
Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore… ♪
It’s funny how some distance, makes everything seem small.. ♪
Let it go, let it go, I am one with the wind and sky… ♪
The brave ones
The rangers had one mission, the mission, they had to rescue the box or never come back!
… They accomplished the mission!
We are very proud of them and thank them very much, because (with the help of HQ, of course) they dared to cross very small unknown towns without internet, and fields full of thorn bushes!!
If we didn’t have this incredible team, you wouldn’t be reading or watching any of these. We wouldn’t have a face, because there would be no name or logo for the project! And all of these amazing adventures would vanish in our memories!
We told you our story, our experience. We had a lot fun and now we really hope you do too!!