Friday, 13 May 2016

The ZL1SIX Ocean Floater

For those of you that are fans of the low-powered "party balloon" floaters, such as the recent S-9 flight by VE3KCL, now comes a different kind of floater and one that really does float ... on the Pacific Ocean!

The "Ocean Floater" is the work of Bob, ZL1RS, who has been very active in tracking the other floaters from his excellent receiving site down-under. Like the balloons, Bob's beacon also utilizes the QRP Labs U3S hardware to transmit data in both WSPR and JT9 modes. The little beacon runs ~100mw on the 30m WSPR band and tracking this one will likely be a bit more challenging than following the high-flying balloons.

Bob's 'Ocean Floater courtesy:

Here is Bob's description as he posted to Yahoo Groups QRP Labs:

A small project inspired by Hans' Voyager ideas at ... the Floater is a 100mW
transmitter on the 30m band with a short base-loaded whip antenna
mounted on a buoy that will drift in the Pacific Ocean. It is sending a
standard WSPR transmission once and hour, followed by two JT9
transmissions giving its position, the temperature, and the battery voltage.

The project was deliberately kept very simple. A QRP-Labs U3S
transmitter and firmware made the electronics side easy. The U3S was
rebuilt on a board with a more open layout to allow experimentation and
the addition of a PICAXE controller to switch things on/off as required
to reduce overall battery consumption. Most of the "hard work" was in
the buoy body and antenna. More information about how this went
together can be found at

Today the Floater left on the yacht Windflower to be released into the
south-west Pacific Ocean in a few days time. This will ensure the
Floater is well clear of the coastal currents around ZL that would
otherwise have 'beached' it along the coast if it been launched from the
shore. Unlike balloon flights, things will happen very very slowly, so
updates to the webpage and tracking map will probably only be made on a
daily basis. WSPRnet spots will show the 4 character Maidenhead
locator position, and the JT9 decodes have a 6 character Maidenhead
resolution. Any JT9 decodes you receive will be appreciated via e-mail

73, Bob ZL1RS

The beacon will use the call "ZL1SIX" and will be launched shortly, near Minerva Reef. Watch Bob's website for tracking and updates and ... good luck Bob!

No comments: