WEther Balloon (WEB) Project – Trackuino

For about a year now I have been researching the hobby of high altitude ballooning (HAB). It all started with some photos I stumbled upon by a Brit named Robert Harrison (The Icarus Project). After researching many different tracking methods I discovered the most common was the Automatic Position Reporting Systems (APRS). This tracking method requires an amateur radio license in the United States as well as many other countries.  So I went out and earned my Technician Class license which permits me to utilize the 2 meter VHF band where the standard APRS frequency lies, 144.39MHz in the U.S. Right after this time I began looking for a suitable APRS transmitter for a HAB. After becoming frustrated with the proprietary closed source offerings available the market I turned to looking for an open source alternative.

This is when I found the Trackuino project. It was started by Javier Martin (blog). It is an open source APRS tracking module based on the popular Arduino platform complete with onboard transmitter, GPS module, cut-down control and two LM60 thermometers. He had the schematic and source code to run the module completed and ready to run but was looking for someone to help with designing the circuit board. I had done a few boards before so I offered up my services.

We used Sparkfun’s batchPCB circuit board prototyping service to supply the boards and Javier was very kind to supply me with a few boards for testing and my own HAB project. The Trackuino works like a charm. It is fairly simple to re-flash with new software and the source code is easily edited because of liberal comments describing the design and use of each function.

I will continue to update this post as the project progresses.

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