We launched another balloon April 21st at 8:00. Everything went well until about 14,000 feet. We then noticed something was not right with the balloon. We had acsent rates under 100 feet every 90 seconds. The balloon had sprung a leak. The balloon ended up coming down about 10 miles south of Mcgregor, MN about 1.5 miles into a heavily wooded swamp. Thanks to the PocketFinder or we would been in for a long and grueling search.
We discovered that the leak was right at the fill valve. Upon futher inspection, we found that the zip tie around the ballon connecting it to the fill valve was not as tight as we had hoped. This resulted in a slow leak. Chalk this up to a steep learning curve. This is a mistake that will never happen again.
Here is a map of the recovery zone. You can see where the balloon come down inthe swamp. We had a lot things work in our favor. The balloon leaked enough helium so the paylaod weight was greater than the free lift. This allowed the balloon to come to rest instead of floating off to Canada. The other thing that worked in our favor was the balloon held enough helium to keep the payload and electronics out of the water in the swamp. We when found the balloon, the payload was floating gentle above the saturated ground.
Here is a picture one of the cameras took right before touch down. You can see how remote it is and how wet the groud is. All the treeless areas are swamps. You can see there is very little high ground which is illustrated by the wooded areas. There is a river that flows through that area as well. The area is also heavy populated by beavers who like to create flooded areas. There was a low cloud ceiling which resulted in not so good pictures. The three troopers in the picture are Devin, Rachel and David. They walked the 1.5 miles in the rain and trudged their way through the swamp to find their payload. They will never forget that experience. We all had fun searching for the payload. We will try again. We are hoping to launch the first part of June once school is out. Check back again in a few weeks.