Theoretical Ascend and Descend Rate

Balloon and Navigation Team has successfully simulated the ascend and descend rate of the our High Altitude Balloon using MATLAB. The list of equations used in the simulations are available in Balloon and Parachute Equations. We acquired the condition of atmosphere at different altitude from The Engineering ToolBox.

There are a few values that we approximated to calculate the ascend and descend rate. The total mass of the HAB is set at 2.7kg, including balloon mass of 1.2kg. The diameter of employed parachute is approximately 2m. The diameter of inflated Helium balloon at sea level is 1.88m. The specific gas constant of Helium used is 2077J/kgK. The drag coefficient of parachute is 0.75 while the drag coefficient ascending is 0.47.

Ascend Rate

The ascend rate slowly increase as the balloon rise. As the balloon rise, ambient pressure drops. As a result, the balloon expands and displaced more air. Thus, it ascends faster. The maximum ascend rate the balloon can achieve with all the approximated parameter is around 9m/s.

Descend Rate

Once the balloon bursts and the parachute is employed, the balloon descends at around 40m/s as the air drag is very low due to low air density at stratosphere. Thus, allowing the payload to descend at such high speed even though the parachute has been employed. As the payload descend, the air density and air drag increases. It slows down the payload. The final descend rate upon reaching the ground is around 3.5m/s.

Hence, the simulation has been completed! Well done!! Now, its up to Structure Team to cope with the terminal velocity so that the payload inside will not be damaged due to impact. Way to go~


“Wide View” Camera

Computer System and Payload Team received their camera ordered from ebay. It is a full HD 1080P car DVR vehicle camera video recorder K6000. We bought the camera for RM64.33 (including postage fee). Approximately 20 days after purchasing, we finally received the parcel!

K6000 Box            K6000

There are a few critical specifications that led us to purchase this camera. This first reason is the 1080p that this camera offers with the price of less than RM65. It is quite attractive. The second reason is this camera has a camera view angle of 140º, which can give the camera a wide view. The third reason is this model can support microSD card up to 32GB. This will enable us to capture all photos and video for the whole duration of mission.

The first thing to do upon receive is of cause to put the camera into test to see if it has what it describes! Unfortunately, the result is no less than disappointing. The footage captured using the camera is full of noise. The anticipated high definition (HD) quality is not met.

K6000 image

The expected 140º camera view angle is not met as well. The camera angle is quite narrow. The camera must be placed far away from the object than only it can capture images of the full object.

It is quite disappointing to get to know that the camera does not match the expectation. Computer System and Payload Team will search for other camera model to replace the current ones. Well, challenges are expected and let’s just embrace and conquer it!!!!

Awareness Booth @ USM Engineering Campus

This is it!! We are sending HAB up and we are not just doing that!! We are spreading awareness and looking for stakeholders from public!!

The stakeholders that we are looking for are the ping pong balls owners that will be sending their ping pong balls up to ‘near space’ together with our HAB. We allocated more than half of the ping pong balls quota to staffs and students of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Engineering Campus. The other portion of ping pong balls are reserved to school students around here. This is what AUSM has to say to all stakeholders: “Welcome Aboard Fellow Stakeholders!!!”

Ping Pong Balls

We opened booth in USM Engineering Campus on November 20, 2014 (Thursday) from 12pm until 2pm and 6pm until 8pm at Staff Cafe and Lembaran Cafe respectively. We set up our posters and information on the soft board available. These are the members who helped to set up the booth!!

Awareness Soft Board 1             Awareness Soft Board 2

We explained our program and mission to the students here. We are amazed to found out that they are so interested in our HAB! We received overwhelming support and interest from students here! The quota for campus stakeholders were swiftly filled and we have to close the registration in the afternoon.

Stakeholders Decorating           Stakeholders from Main Campus

Well done, AUSM!!!! We are looking forward to Critical Design Review (CDR) next week. Ciao~

Progress Presentation

Two weeks after PDR, we presented our progress to our adviser, Dr Norilmi Amilia Ismail. The presentation started 10am and ended around 12pm. Each team take turns to present their respective progress to Dr Norilmi. Our presentation covered current progress, problems encountered and future work.

Communication Team has confirmed their main communication system will be Trackuino. They have started “shopping” for their components from online shops. For certain components, they plan to source it from local electronics hub as the price from online shop is too expensive!!

gps        gps antenna        transmitter

For Computer System and Payload Team, they too started purchasing. They tested the temperature sensor last week, but it seems that the connection for temperature (refer schematic below) below freezing temperature is a bit more complicated than the usual connection for common application. They identified the problems and will carry out the test again next week.

Temp Sensor Schematic

Structure Team has finalised the payload arrangement and CAD model. They will proceed to impact test, buoyancy test as well as ANSYS simulation for stress load.

Payload Arrangement       CAD Model             

Thermal Team has bought heat packs for testing. They also acquired the permission to use freezer from School of Chemical Engineering, USM. They are expected to carry out thermal testing and thermal analysis in near future.

For Balloon and Navigation Team, they will start their “shopping spree” soon. They will sew the parachute and put it to the test to determine the terminal velocity of payload.

Guys, its just two weeks after PDR and we are progressing well!!! We are expecting Critical Design Review (CDR) in a few weeks time or probably next week!!! We have to act faster!!! Go AUSM!!!!

Visit to Meteorology Department

After weeks of exchanging emails and calls with Meteorological Department of Penang, we finally obtained clearance from Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) to visit Meteorological Department of Penang. It sounds kind of weird to get clearance from one department just to visit another. This is because the Meteorological Department is located inside the territory of Penang Airport and Penang Airport is authorized under DCA. That’s why.


Our main purpose is to visit Upper Air Station (Stesen Udara Atas, SUA) in Meteorological Department of Penang. SUA launches weather balloon twice a day to collect information for flight data used in Penang Airport. We would like to learn as much as we could from their experience since they launch it twice a day.

Filling in Hydrogen Gas

We were welcomed by the Mr Jamil, personnel in charge of SUA. He brought us to visit the ground station for weather balloons and SUA.

Mr Jamil (right) and his colleague

His colleague explained the launch procedures to us and we witnessed the launch ourselves.

Demonstration of Launchi

Balloon and Navigation Team took some pictures of the Helium gas adapter used for filling the balloon. Mr Jamil also showed us the devices and sensors used in weather balloons. The sensors are all for one-time use only and are not retrievable.


After we visited SUA, we proceeded to the main Meteorological Department office. Mr Mazlan showed us the images of computed regional wind direction from the big screen. He explained to us the formation of clouds and how to estimate the weather. We learnt a lot from Meteorological Department!

Mr Mazlan explaining

Before we end our visit at Meteorological Department, Dr Norilmi handed token of appreciation to Mr Mazlan on behalf of School of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia. We took group photos as well~

Token of Appreciation to Mr Mazlan

Group Photo @ Meteorological Dept

On our way out, we saw this ‘baby’. It’s 9M-AFV!! A320 Queens Park Rangers Livery owned by AirAsia!!! We were so near to it.