N4KGL Beacon Rocket Launch
I recently had the privilege to attend a SEARS (SouthEast Alabama Rocket Society) rocket launch this past Saturday, October 15, 2011 with Greg, N4KGL and Sonny, KK4CVV. It was a blast (pardon the pun). A great bunch of folks just out doing what they love and enjoying every minute of it. Ok, what does the have to do with Ham Radio? Greg Lane, N4KGL mounted a 20m Beacon inside a high power rocket to launch it over 1500 feet in anticipation that other QRP’ers were listening.
Greg prepared the RMS rocket motor, put in fresh batteries, packed the chute and put it on the launching rail. The proposed time to launch was at 1700 UTC. Everything was on schedule until the operational check of the beacon. With Greg’s portable Hamstick dipole raised and listening on the beacon frequency of 14.060 Mhz just a steady tone was heard. I assisted him in posting to www.qrpspots.com to notify of the five minute delay in launch time to troubleshoot the beacon problem. Greg quickly went out to the launch pad and fixed the issue. Beacon was loud and clear.
Ready to launch. 5..4..3..2..1 … We have lift off! Great launch! Listening carefully.. No Beacon.
Uh, Houston, we have a problem. Post flight recovery revealed that the forces acting on the rocket ripped the beacon from the antenna and parachute part of the tube. The beacon transmitter free fell to earth while the other parts of the rocket came down nice and slow by parachute. Thankfully Greg found all the pieces with the help of his Grandson. Despite the failure it was a great launch and a great day. I am sure Greg will go back to the drawing board to make the beacon fly another day… Enjoy the video. 73
Visit www.N4KGL.info for more information.