High Altitude Glider


The Plan

Attach a glider to a weather balloon and go as high as it will go (hoping for at least 20 km, 30km would be fantastic, 40km would be record breaking!), then release the glider and fly back to earth FPV.

Yes, we know David and some other guys have done the same, but we want to do it our way and  ….well….we want to do it!



The Team

House4Hack have teamed up with the guys from HABEX – they have lots of experience and has reached a height of 39km….so we are excited to learn from their experience

On the House4Hack side, the team currently is

  • Arnold
  • Gert
  • Matthew
  • Nico
  • Philip
  • Richard
  • Schalk

If you are interested to join us, pop in on a Tuesday evening – we are in the “space” room.

The Kit

The plane was sponsored by our local hobby shop (High Flyer)

The plane will house the following equipment

  • ArduPlane Autopilot
  • 1.2 GHz video transmitter
  • Long range 433 MHz receiver for the control signal
  • Telemetry data link at 433 MHz connected to the ArduPlane
  • Two gopro cameras
  • On screen display
  • Variety of sensors
  • Custom designed release mechanism

For the ground station the following:

  • Long range 433 MHz transmitter for controlling the plane and release
  • Long range 1.2 GHz video receiver
  • Telemetry data link at 433 MHz receiver
  • Laptop with ground station software (APM Planner – see screenshot)
  • Screen for displaying the video and OSD returned from the plane
  • Various high gain antenna (need some help here!)

Chris from HABEX negotiated sponsorship for the hydrogen for the balloons from AFROX.

The Tests

Made a short video clip of our testing:

a. Dry ice

We used dry ice with Isopropyl Alcohol to create a sub -60 degree environment (lowest measured was -74°C!!!!  ).  We tested the batteries with chemical hand warmers and insulation and the servos.  All seems fine – probably need about 3 hand warmers for the trip.  The dry-ice was sourced from Centurion Ice-Cream and Sweets – for about R50 you get 2.5kg of dry ice!

b. Drop test
Nico devised a mechanism to release the plane and chute from the balloon and another to release the plane from the balloon.  At this point the release is not automated and will be controlled using the 433 MHz control link.

c. Maiden the plane
We maidened the plane – first flight and she performs well.  The plane we use is a Talon v-tail with push prop configuration.

Other things to test:
– range of video link, telemetry link, control link  (planned for Thursday)
– 100 m drop test of glider and parachute (planned for Saturday)

The Date

With the help of Chris (HABEX), we have applied for flexible use of air space and are awaiting approval.  Our planned date for the first High Altitude Glider flight is 14 June from Klerksdorp.


Posted in: Builds, FPV

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