After the Balloon World Championship

Early morning with Windsond and traditional theodolite

The Balloon World Championship is over and I’ve made my way back to Sweden. It was a great experience and I’d like to thank all the people that made it possible. The locals were also very hospitable and cheerful.

Windsond worked out well. It provided detailed wind readings to an altitude of our choice and immediately provided the pilot with a clear visualization. When other teams gazed in concentration on a pibal forming a dot in the sky, we could release a prepared balloon through the car side window and drive on.

Path of one launch, showing launch site at top and detach position, predicted landing and actual landing at bottom. This particular launch revealed vertical turbulence over the hill that a regular pibal couldn’t show.

Out of 13 launches, only 3 sonds were lost. The first landed deep in a thick corn field and we got tired of searching when we couldn’t even see a meter in front of us. After this experience, I improved the software to make such unfortunate landings improbable in the future. I’ll talk more about this in a future blog post.

The second sond had a faulty release mechanism and just sailed away. Having the first two sonds disappear was discouraging but after that we got the hang of it and could recover all of them except one which we lost radio contact with, probably from radio interference. Had I remembered to check the frequency before launch, I could have switched frequency and avoided the whole problem.

If you’re a balloonist reading this, I’d love to get in contact with you. The system works well as it is but there are many ideas for extensions and improved software. Knowing the level of interest and your needs helps me to motivate further development and drive down costs.

Reach me at or telephone +46 707 312608.

(c) 2015 Sparv Embedded AB
Sparv Embedded AB
Ågatan 39
58222 Linköping, Sweden
Phone: +46 (0)707 312608