Near Space through project based learning

The Secunda Radio Amateur Club invites schools from South Africa to participate in a high altitude balloon launch that will take place In October. We will fly your school’s experimental payload with a weather balloon that can take your payload to altitudes 2 to 3 times higher than what a commercial airplane can fly.

This is a Fun High Altitude Balloon project where you get the opportunity to send a school experiment 15 to 30+ Km into the near space. This project will teach students how to do a proper science project while you build a small miniaturized satellite and plan for launch day. Students will learn Basic Electronics; Digital electronics; Micro Controller Programming; Radio Communications; Study science and a lot more. The student will get hands-on practical experience and most of all the learning’s will contribute to the student’s school curriculum.

It cost a lot to put a satellite into space, while this project will cost a fraction of that, and you will get similar experience and satisfaction out of it. Some people call this “the poor man’s space program,”

We will provide you with a program to follow but you are welcome to add to it or run your own program as long as you stay within the rules of the project. The material that we provide to help you to run your project is developed so that you will be able to participate in a high altitude balloon launch, no matter where you are in South Africa. You will need a mentor with some science or electronics background. Help is only a click away through internet communication methods like Skype or WhatsApp to assist with your exciting project.

How to participate

1. Your school will have to apply to take part in the project because there is a limited amount of payloads that can go with a balloon.

2. You will need a team of between 8 to 15 dedicated students to work on the project.

3. You will need a mentor and team leader.

4. You will need to stay within the rules an target dates to stay part of the project.

Curriculum ( about 20 to 30 Hours)

1. Set a common goal (about 1 Hour)

2. Plan working sessions and set target dates (about 1 Hours)

3. Study Basic Electronics (Basic electronics module is about 2 Hours)

4. Construction of flight controller (about 2 Hours)

5. PicAXE Programming ( PicAXE Programming module is about 4 Hours)

6. PicAXE Programming / development ( about 4 Hours)

7. Adding your own experiments (about 4 Hours)

8. Construction of Space frame (about 4 Hours)

9. Testing and improvements (about 4 Hours)

10. Attend Launch (for learners that can be at the launch site)

11. Analyse end results (about 1 – 4 Hours)


1. This is not an competition between teams it is project-based learning and fun event

2. Registration of teams must not be later than 5 April 2019

3. Progress on the teams project need to be send in as specified on the program

4. No live animals or insects are allowed on your payload

5. The completed payload / Balloon Sat mass cannot exceed 500g maximum

6. The payload / Balloon Sat must fit in a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm cube

7. Isolation and protection material can be placed around the cube mention in rule 6 but

not exceed 14cm x 14cm x 14 cm

8. If you add data communication between your payload and your ground teams you will

have to get frequency clearance from the Secunda Radio Amateur Club so that it can go into

the band plan for launch day.

9. The payload / Balloon Sat can be powered by a battery, capacitor, fuel cell and / or solar

panels. It must be possible for the systems to run for four continuous hours.



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For the WBT payload you will need this programs.