successfully completed Tuesday, July
To help commemorate the 10th anniversary of LEGO®
Mindstorms®, Nevada Space Grant, the University of
Nevada-Reno, National Instruments, The Energizer Battery Company, and
the LEGO Mindstorms Team conducted the High Altitude LEGO
is an event that carried nine LEGO Mindstorms-based
payloads into the Earth’s stratosphere. At that altitude H.A.L.E. was
above 99.9% of the atmosphere. Two balloons carried payloads from the
USA, Taiwan, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Denmark to an altitude just over
99,500 feet. Brian Davis's payload set the world record for the longest
NXT freefall at 80-seconds. We are pretty sure HALE also set the record
for the most NXT's flown at once (5 on one balloon and 4 on the other)
Two balloons were launched the same morning:
First launch at 6:52:43:
carried and NXT-controlled SLR digital camera payload, FLL Team 90, LEGO
Mindstorms Team, Gypsy, communications
payload (a.k.a NXT payload) and Little Joe. Little Joe
was successfully deployed at 82,000 feet and survived an 60-second
freefall before deploying its parachute.
Second launch at
7:41:45: carried LUXPAK,
student payload (no name), communications payload (a.k.a Energizer
video camera payload (a.k.a National Instruments) and Reel-E.
The two balloons were tracked by participants in real time
findU.com and APRS.fi. The balloons launched used the KD7UCE-11 and KE7BQV-11
call signs. We transmitted once every minute. Note that
balloons had to be at least a few thousand feet off the ground in order
for our transmissions to be picked up by the repeaters & Internet
gates. The chase
teams on the ground used additional HAM radio frequencies to track the
balloons during the mission. The final
landing locations were determined by using our SPOT personal
Check out Brian Davis's live report on blogspot.
Here is a brief description of payloads being flown:
There are also 5 infrastructure payloads that were built
at UNR specifically for the HALE event:
coached by Eugene Tsai (Taiwan): payload used sticky tape to
capture particles and/or chemicals in the air
during the balloon ascent and/or descent periods. The LEGO Mindstorms
NXT was used to provide a mechanism to
capture the materials in the air and then keep the tape clean. The
sticky tape samples will be analyzed back in Taiwan for
particles and chemicals that exist at different altitudes.
- Gypsy by Brian Davis (USA): Gypsy
(a.k.a. Nadar 2.0) is an automated camera platform that takes
both video and still images. The NXT controlled all image timing as
well as pitch angle.
- REEL-E by SpaceMasters Robotics Team (Sweden). Team
is lead by
Jurgen Leitner and David Leal Martinez. The Reel-E payload measured
the change in g-forces as a function of altitude. The payload
repeatedly dropped a tethered bluetooth sensor package at different
the acceleration experienced by the package.
- Little Joe by Brian Davis (USA) performed the record
setting automated NXT free-fall The payload was detached from the main
balloon at 82,000 feet and was under free-fall for 80 seconds, when the
NXT deployed the
parachute. Check out the YouTube video on
how to pack Little Joe.
(Luxembourg): This student team is mentored by Claude Baumann, Francis
Massen, Jean Mootz, and Jean-Claude Krack. The payload measured
ozone-concentration, air-pressure, temperature (inside/outside), and
reflected light from earth during ascent. In recognition of the 10th
anniversary, LUXPAK was th only payload to an RCX instead of an NXT for
all command and control
Bratzel and Chris Rogers are coaching a group of 4th grade students
from Shady Hill School
(USA): The students wanted to investigate the impact of the flight
conditions on yellow marshmallows (a.k.a. peeps). The NXT recorded the
expansion of the peep as well as temperature and pressure during the
Team 90 payload (USA). This team
is coached by David Levy. The payload measured UV
radiation as a function of altitude. The NXT not only data logged the
UV sensor readings, but was also used to manipulate various UV filters
control the payload heater.
Mindstorms Team: this top secret classified payload was lost during the
mission. How and why it was lost is still under investigation.
#1 communications payload (a.k.a the "NXT"). Contained two fully
independent HAM radio tracking systems, SPOT tracker, GPS data logger,
DTMF board (for cutting Little Joe loose), and our LEGOnaut "JD".
#2 communications payload (a.k.a the "Energizer"). Contained one
radio, SPOT tracker, and a logging GPS.
payload (a.k.a. the "National Instruments"). Contained a video camera
that we hoped would capture the balloon rupturing and parachute
deployment, but shifted during launch and ended up recording only sky
(still good video, but not what we wanted).
camera payload. Contained a digital SLR camera that has flown on many
our missions. The camera is controlled by an NXT, which also controls
the heater (using a temperature sensor) and datalogs both temperature
and vertical acceleration.
payload (no name): this is a payload built by a local high school
student who is interested in getting in to BalloonSat. It has nothing
to do with HALE, so it was just hitching a ride.
All payloads used Energizer Lithium batteries because of their
lightweight and extreme operating range (click
for more details).
Nevada Space Grant
The University of Nevada, Reno
The LEGO Mindstorms Team
Energizer Battery Company
LEGO® and Mindstorms® are trademarks of the LEGO group of
National Instruments® is
a trademark of National Instruments.
Energizer® is a
Energizer Battery Company.
Participation is at your own risk. All applicable FAA and FCC
regulations must be followed.