JHAB2 – A Successful Failure

Sunrise over California from JHAB2

The plan was a 2 hour flight, launched pre-dawn, in an attempt to capture the sunrise, then land in Murrieta valley (30 miles from launch) – Things don’t always go according to plan…

We launched the balloon from Shapell Park 33.8790 -117.7772 at 06:18, and the predicted impact area was to be in Murrieta valley, 53km (33miles) from launch.

JHAB2 Flight Predictions

This time trying to track the balloon, we used the same as the last flight, a SPOT GPS and my phone with InstaMapper on it. Again the InstaMapper didn’t work, it may have been from my phones alarm going off, but we’ll just pretend it didn’t happen. So the same thing happened last time with the SPOT, lost signal at 60k ft, and gained signal at 90k ft. However, due to a slight error with our scale, we didn’t have the desired lift we wanted so as we were tracking it and the balloon decided to give us a good scare. The balloon stared to drift closer and closer to the ocean, and we thought that we were going to lose the balloon somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, which I don’t have to tell anyone that that would be bad.

JHAB – Launch

After waking up at still dark o’clock, (05:15), we headed to the park to get the balloon ready and in the air so it could capture the sunrise, which was coming fast. We launched the balloon just in time for it to get up and start taking pictures before it hit a tree, at which point all of us thought we were doomed. Turns out wind is ever so helpful when it comes to sturdy boxes and weak branches, our capsule was able to break free of the branches after a minute or two and off the balloon went. Little did we know that in the process of hitting the tree, it knocked out the camera we set into the bottom (which worked, but took 1700 picture of the inside of the capsule) and tweaked the GoPro so that it is now taking angled videos.

JHAB was setup and ready to launch by 0610; – the planned lift was to be 5.5 lbs. with an estimated ascent rate of 1100 ft /min, burst after 93 minutes of flight with a 2 hour total flight time.

Our digital scale was giving us a hard time again and we based upon the post flight data we launched the balloon with about 2 lbs. less lift than planned.  With only 3 lbs of lift, and a 3.6 lbs payload, this caused JHAB to ascend at roughly 820 ft /min!  While sitting at Starbucks after liftoff, we watched in horror as the SPOT readings came in, and JHAB headed out towards the Pacific Ocean!

JHAB2 - Going out to sea

At almost the 2 hour mark, SPOT sent the same anomalous readings as the last flight – three of the exact same longitude and latitude for 30 minutes. This also happened on JHAB1, which caused us to wonder the desert for an hour. This time, we decided to begin to drive to the last known point and wait for another reading from SPOT – somewhere between Oceanside and Encinitas; more than 70 miles away from the launch site!

JHAB – Recovery

So after we launched the capsule at 06:18, we made our way over to our balloon headquarters, Starbucks. Once there we started to track the progress of the balloon using both SPOT and Instamapper vis the iPhone.

From the points that we were receiving it was telling us that the balloon was heading out into the ocean. So instead of driving out to the marina and renting a boat, we decided to wait a bit longer and see if the balloon was making its way back to land.

So at the hour 40 mark, we started getting some solid points from the SPOT so we left Starbucks and went on the hunt.  At first we thought it had landed because following the points, we got three points all in the same location, but we saw this strange anomaly last time too. But we had had enough coffee, so we drove out to the “landing site”; the last three points said it was, somewhere near Encinitas.

Once there we realized that the GPS had brought us to a ravine. So against our better judgment, we trusted the GPS and went looking for the capsule. This feeling seems awfully familiar, but after about twenty minutes of figuring out how to cross the ravine, with such ideas as a branch pal vault and just jumping over at full speed, we got another hit from the SPOT and that relieved some of us. Off we went further south to El Cajon, which was another 25 miles away from where we were. Upon reaching the city limits of El Cajon, we were able to use Google Maps to find the exact spot where the capsule landed, again in someone’s yard! We were really lucky – the 8 Freeway was less than 100 yards from the impact zone!

Once we arrived at the house, the owner saw us and came outside and asked if we were looking for the balloon, – “yep, that would be us.” We were relieved and excited to have found our wayward JHAB – 106 miles by road and more than 85 miles by air from the launch site.

Josh and Tyler - JHAB2 Recovered

Josh and Tyler - JHAB2 Recovered

We are calling JHAB2 a successful failure. Due to the fill and lift error, the planned 2 hour flight turned into a 3 hour 41 minute total flight, but we did manage to capture some incredible images!

We caught the sunrise!

And one of the canon’s caught the balloon burst! Even though we added a 2nd battery pack to the GoPro, it cut out after 3 hours, and didn’t capture the decent, but the canon caught the burst, and we time lapsed the descent. It was very rapid this time; as it appears the parachute didn’t fully open. The GoPro images were amazing, even though they’re at an angle, the images of the California coast are spectacular.

Our USB Datalogger worked this time as well. It captured temperature readings every 10 seconds for the duration of the flight. The lowest temperature recorded was -40 c !

The video of JHAB2’s flight turned out great!, We found a composer from Germany, Jan Jendrkowiak, who did a score for another HAB project, and we asked if we could use it again.

That’s our report, see you next time!

Here are some of the best images:

Sunrise over California

Sunrises over California

Sunrise over California from High Altitude Balloon - JHAB2

Sunrise over California from High Altitude Balloon - JHAB2

JHAB 2 - Sunburst at Altitude

JHAB2 Ascent at 20K ft

JHAB - Ascent at 25K ft

JHAB2 - Around 95K feet ASL

JHAB2 - around 85K feet above California Coast

JHAB 2 - at 107,000 feet, great view of San Diego

JHAB2 Balloon Burst!

Flight Data

JHAB Test Flight #2



Launch Date


Launch Time

14:18 Zulu (06:08 PDT)

Launch Point

Lat: 33.87967, Lon: -117.77644

Landing Time

09:59 PDT

Landing Point

Lat: 34.49163, Lon: -117.24806

Flight Time

3 hours 41 minutes

Payload Mass

1660 (g) 3.6 lbs


1200 g Kaymont Weather Balloon

Balloon Lift

Planned: 5.5 lbs , Actual 3.2lbs

Helium Volume

~3 m3



Flight Trajectory


JHAB2 Flight Predictions


JHAB2 - Actual Flight Path vs Planned

Highest Altitude



Temperature, Dew Point

Camera 1

Canon PowerShot A480

Camera 2

Canon PowerShot A495

Camera Shots

C1: 1881 (15 seconds using CHDK) 1302 Flight Pictures

C2: 1749 (12 seconds using CHDK) Zero flight due to dislodging and all pictures were of the inside of the capsule

Camera 2

GoPro HD

Camer 2 time

19 gb of video, total elapsed time of 2:50


iPhone 3G, Instamapper



Altitude vs Time Chart 

JHAB2 Altitude vs Time

External Temperature Reading

JHAB2 External Temperature Reading

Lowest temperature reading was -40c. Our assumption for the secondary dip is due to the rapid rate of descent.

Canon A480Temperature and Battery Readings

JHAB2 Canon A480 Temp Readings

JHAB2 Canon A480 Battery Readings

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One thought on “JHAB2 – A Successful Failure

  1. darjusz says:

    Reblogged this on ⊙,Słońce,Sol,Sun,Солнсе,Sonne,Soleil,Ήλιου and commented:
    Oto wpis z jhabproject.wordpress.com
    Wspaniały i coraz bardziej dostępny do wykonania projekt spojrzenia z góry. Naprawdę z góry! Polecam obejrzenie załączonego tam filmu.

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