In early May of this year we launched a flight that achieved float with a latex balloon for over eight hours at an altitude of 28km. It remained airborne for over fourteen hours. This flight utilized a tandem balloon configuration and a Doongara Balloon Cut-Down device. Background We went over to the Sisters Airport to takeRead more about Achieving Float with a Latex Balloon[…]
We were recently asked by a client if it was possible to externally trigger our Doongara Balloon Cut-Down device with a simple RC Switch. The external trigger was originally designed to allow the Doongara to be connected to an Iridium modem to allow real-time remote control. While the Iridium option is great, it is alsoRead more about RC Trigger Balloon Cut-Down[…]
Are you hoping to get photos of the solar eclipse this August? Want to “up” your photography game? Our equipment enables you to launch a camera on a latex balloon and float at a constant altitude for long enough to capture video or photos over the entire duration of the solar eclipse. Affordable Solar EclipseRead more about Solar Eclipse Balloon Photography[…]
We are frequently asked about how to convert between atmospheric pressure and altitude for high altitude balloon flights. Our Doongara balloon cut-down device has a pressure sensor that can be configured to cut a line at a specific pressure. But what if you have a specific altitude in mind? Is there a way to correlateRead more about Atmospheric Pressure to Altitude for High Altitude Ballooning[…]
In our quest towards making controlled ballooning more affordable and accessible, we have recently developed a way to allow our Doongara balloon cut-down device to be remotely triggered. During testing we have been using an Iridium satellite tracker to both track and remotely terminate high altitude balloon flights. Below is a brief overview of ourRead more about Iridium Controlled High Altitude Balloon[…]
Earlier this summer, Smith & Williamson flew a new variant of the Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System inside of two different thunderstorms in Colorado and Nebraska. Known as the “Storm Balloon,” this new research platform was launched just before and after two storms. It was steered into the weather systems by taking advantage of varyingRead more about Storm Balloon[…]
Earlier this year we developed a reusable non-pyrotechnic line cutter, Doongara, for use on traditional, latex balloon flight trains and tandem ballooning. By adding Doongara in a 2-balloon tandem flight train, we demonstrated advanced flight profiles that vastly increase a payload’s time at altitude. Depending on the amount of helium in the tandem configuration’s twoRead more about Tandem Ballooning with Doongara[…]
The Smith & Williamson Boomerang Balloon Flight Control System completed its second year of flights for the Balloon Asian Tropopause Aerosol Layer (BATAL) campaign. Lead by Jean-Paul Vernier of NASA’s Airborne Science Program, the BATAL research campaign includes researchers from India’s National Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. BATAL’s science goalRead more about Boomerang Balloon Atmospheric Research in India[…]
Smith & Williamson currently offers the only commercially available altitude control system for level flight with latex balloons and has sold units to university and NASA researchers. For more about Boomerang: The Complete Small Balloon Flight Control System, see here.
History of Level Flight with Latex Balloons
The idea of venting helium from a latex balloon is not new. The earliest published examples that we are aware of were completed in the 1950-60’s (Laby, 1956 & Mastenbrook, 1966). Controls ranged from balloon size string-operated valves to more advanced elctro-mechanical valves. Uses for this technology at the time was to expose nuclear emulsion plates to cosmic radiation and to provide both ascent and descent stratospheric water vapor measurements. Read more about Level Flight with Latex Balloons …
The Boomerang Vent & Ballast Calculator is a critical tool for operators of the 4th Generation Boomerang Balloon Flight System. Using launch site, target altitude, and flight system parameters, the calculator displays:
- The initial helium fill volume and corresponding weigh-off weight to achieve a desired ascent rate, typically about 5 m/s.
- The estimated total vent time at altitude necessary for the Boomerang Balloon Flight System to achieve neutral buoyancy.
- The new ascent rate and settling altitude after a ballast drop of specific duration, either during the ascent or after reaching float.