Mission Accomplished! – PocketFinder in Space Part 2


Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by Admin

Balloon Project Launch

Wow what a journey! PocketFinder® successfully reached over 106,685 feet inside the payload designed and launched by the High Altitude Balloon Club at Forrest View Middle School in North Central Minnesota! This was the first time we sponsored a project that would send a PocketFinder into the upper stratosphere. Not surprisingly, this is the highest our devices have ever been so we were excited to see how the devices would perform after being that high. We were very happy when we saw the rugged GPS device come back into wireless range and successfully provide a location.

Not only did the device work under these extreme conditions, but the PocketFinder saved the project from becoming lost when it returned to earth!

Extreme Reliability Saves the Day

GPS Location of Payload
Jim Reed, the club’s sponsor and middle school teacher, said “If it wasn’t for PocketFinder, I don’t know if we would have been able to find our payload.” The other GPS device on board did not give a location. It could only give a five mile radius. Thankfully the team included a PocketFinder GPS locator with the payload. Students, teachers and parents logged into the PocketFinder GPS app and saw exactly where it landed.

Payload in the Trees

The team quickly found the payload in a rural area in Danbury, Wisconsin. The balloon and payload landed in a scrub tree sixty feet above the ground. The anticipation built as they grew closer and closer to locating the payload that the class spent months researching and designing. It was a major relief to find their project so quickly and the class rejoiced when they were able to recover all the contents inside.

Getting the Details from the Team

Skyping with the Team
PocketFinder wanted to celebrate with the class and congratulate them on their success! We set up a Skype date to meet them and to hear all the details of the flight! It was exciting to meet with a few of the students and with Mr. Reed and Mr. Olson, the lead instructors. They gathered around a computer screen during their lunch break and shared details about their first attempt in launching the payload into the upper stratosphere.

Milestones and Modifications

They shared some of the key milestones and modifications that came about after the first flight attempt. The largest modification moving forward will be with the camera. They are implementing the adjustments into their next payload design. On this most recent flight, the camera failed at 27,000 feet. They were not able to secure the amount of pictures they hoped for. Their goal is to secure over 800 pictures on the next flight and they believe this is possible with the new modifications. As for milestones, this team became the first middle school class to design, launch and recover a high altitude balloon in the United States!

A Group of Talented Students

The Team
It’s clear to all of us that these students are very talented and they will excel in any field they pursue. The students showed great vision with this project and also demonstrated that vision in our conversation. We were impressed with their maturity and their questions and comments about college and their futures. We cannot wait to hear from the class as they continue to reach for and achieve their goals. They are an inspiration for pushing the limits of technology and we were honored to participate in this historic achievement.

Previous Posts About the Project

Did you miss our blog introducing the project? Click the link to read the Balloon Project Post.