Caz High School Students to go to space...Again!

Caz High School Students to go to space...Again!

A crew of ten Engineering design & development (EDD) students in Cazenovia High School’s Tech Club have decided to go to the air again. In 2015 they went into space the first time when sent a High Altitude Balloon into space.  They brought back HD video and science data that included temperature, pressure, altitude, and GPS headings as they flew to over 120,000 feet and recovered the balloon. See the article and video here. This year students have decided to try to circumnavigate the globe with another high altitude balloon and track it on the internet with a circuit that they have built.

Mike and Jules Hojnowski from Cornell trekked to Caz to help the students build the trackers. The Hojnowski’s are avid Ham radio operators and enjoy travelling around to help students build their own trackers following Mike H’s design. Everyone started at 7:30 am and spent the first three hours placing more than 240 surface mount devices; some so small you could fit 50 of them on your pinky nail. The circuit board tracker contains a tiny radio device that transmits GPS data back to Earth, as it flies 40,000 feet above the clouds. The tracker is charged by two solar panels, as batteries will not work in extreme temperatures.  These solar panels charge a super-capacitor that powers the whole device. A lightweight tracker is crucial to the success of their mission and the whole device will weigh less than 15 grams.

The afternoon was spent troubleshooting the devices, reflow soldering components, and extensive testing. After the parts were all placed correctly and powered up, they were programmed with Mr. Hurd’s ham radio call sign: KD2GJE. When it flies, you will be able to track it here on WSPR, and possibly here on Stay tuned to see how they move forward with the project, as they plan to launch two of them in the Spring. More info will be available as we get closer to a flight date.


Girls’ team working on their trackers. The girl’s team consists of Shao, Suzu, McKenzie, Emma, & Claire.
Mike H. checks components for polarity.
Shao places parts on the circuit board while Claire watches.
Shao checks the trackers for component placement.
Chris compares components to the schematic.
This is really a capacitor?!? SMT components can be very small.
Is it my turn yet? The day started at 7:30 am.
Emma places components in the solder paste.
Jake making one of the 27 foot antennas.
Eric places components on the circuit boards.
Eric solders the ends of the 27 foot long antennas.
Documentation is everything!
A captive audience learns how to place SMT components on a circuit board before reflow soldering.
Special Thanks to Mike Hojnowski and his wife Jules for their expertise with building our trackers.
The boards in the reflow oven that was just a toaster oven controlled with an arduino.
When it doesn’t work the first time, reflow solder it again…and again…
The boys team working on their trackers. The boy’s team consists of Daniel, Eric, Isaac, and Jake.
Chris places parts in the past on the tracker.
Three tracker boards with solder paste on them.
Mike H. shows students how to determine polarity of a SMT component.
Suzu does some touch up soldering while troubleshooting.
Daniel and Isaac work on the trackers while looking at the schematic diagram.
Finished tracker ready to fly this Spring. Looks like a satellite, doesn’t it!
Mike H helps Suzu solder very small components.
Daniel places components on the circuit boards with tweezers.

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