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New Fez altitude record is


100054 ft. Used RLP to directly modulate the radio signal on a 350mW transmitter and was able to recover the payload. I got lots of help from the message boards here so just thought I’d say thanks!




anyone know someone at NASA so we can get one on the shuttle ? In the meantime, this is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. That pic is freaky-high.


I think the shuttle is retired so now you need to know someone at SpaceX…


There’s one more scheduled flight yet later this year, then they are done.


It is possible to get something into orbit without either of them… Check out there are multiple amateur satellites in orbit. I would eventually like to do something like that but am working my way there in baby steps.




Baby steps? That’s one big baby step! That’s a really stunning pic.

I do have a rocket scientist friend that works for ULA and has spent the last 20 years writing software to put a lot of satellites in orbit. I’m guessing he could help with the orbital math :stuck_out_tongue:

BTW - did you ever recover the equipment in Arkansas?


Well getting into orbit is much more difficult so it really is a baby step. Next step is to have a balloon that hovers, can solar recharge, survive the temps for more than 20 minutes and keep functioning for multiple days. Then would have to add a rocket stage to the balloon once at height or do the whole trip with a rocket, both of which are pretty difficult.

And somewhere in there I probably want to get a guided descent/UAV stage so it’s easier to find these payloads when they come down. I never found the one in Arkansas and did head out there one more time but it’s just too difficult in thick forest with no beacon as to where it was after 2K feet. In this last launch my backup cell phone tracker did come back alive and start beaconing again so I was able to walk right up to it. And I waited to launch until the winds were blowing towards the open fields of Texas instead of forested area. :slight_smile:


I’ve been researching high altitude balloons and slowly working on a project when i get a few spare moments (ie: rarely).

I was planning on doing a drogue chute to keep the payload oriented correctly, with a main chute getting deployed by a pyrotechnic charge at about 300m AGL, just like a high power rocket does. This would then allow a 3-4m/s landing but a 30-40m/s descent. This gives around a 15 minute descent rather than 1-1.5hrs for a safe landing speed. If you want to do similar, you might want to talk to a local TRA or ARA chapter to get some assistance working out what strength kevlar lines you’ll need, as well as parachute sizing (or i can help…) as well as pyro charge info and such.

This should increase the chances of recovery considerably. If you’re squawking on 350mhz, build yourself a yagi antenna (90 degree beamwidth would be fine) and do a little fox hunting :smiley: This way, if your backup phone doesn’t boot up, you’ll be able to just home in on the beacon.


Interesting idea, but the payload I’m working on now is an RC plane instead of a box so as long as I can successfully guide it to where I want it I’m not too concerned with how long it takes to get down… and the fewer moving (or exploding!) pieces the better. :slight_smile: I do need to practice the fox hunting though so I’m glad you reminded me of that, thanks.


You could use something like an RC glider hanging from it’s tail on a quick release. All you’d need to do to make it land in a specific spot would be to program it to loiter over a specific set of coordinates in a slightly nose down attitude until it gets close(er) to the ground.


The biggest problem with gliders is they dont tend to be built strong enough for free fall “re-entry”. Unfortunately, you pick up a huge amount of speed before there is enough air to support you/slow you down, so you need to ensure your aircraft can handle that, or use a large chute to grab some of the meager air up there (make sure it’s on swivels!)

I’d suggest a strong EPO/EPP foam model, with wings that get screwed in . EPP is an excellent insulator too, which is good. You may get some foam expansion up there, even considerable foam expansion due to the low pressure, however this shouldn’t be enough to affect the aircraft. If you’re worried about this, an open cell foam such as Depron is a good alternative, however it’s not as crash proof or as flexible (flexible is good for high speeds!).

A flying wing of some sort (Zagi or Stryker/ParkJet style) would be my aircraft of choice. They are capable if extreme speeds and also a very very efficient design, however are much harder to put an autopilot on due to their unstable nature.

If you’re doing long range R/C i’d suggest getting a DragonLink ( These should allow you to maintain 130,000ft of range (40km) line of sight, which should leave you in control of the aircraft the whole way.

Keep in mind however, that a R/C plane as a balloon payload is illegal as it breaks the 400ft model aircraft regulations by some distance haha. If you do this, I would not recommend sharing the details of your plane flight.


I’m not going to be controlling it directly until it is within range of a normal controller so I’d like to think I’m under the balloon payload rules (< 4lb) and not the model aircraft rules.

Chris, I don’t think what you suggest would work since there are pretty severe winds at play from 20K to 80K feet, up to 100 mph. So I think it is more about getting it to go in a certain direction that is more optimal (fields instead of trees) and less about staying in an exact spot.