The 2011-12 school year is starting out great for the PENS project. We have received a large monitary grant from the Iowa School Board Association (funded by the Qwest Foundation) and we were able to purchase more equipment for the students to work with. This year we have added the entire Pella Community 7th grade science class which involves about 200 students. They will make near space and high altitude ballooning a part of their curriculum.

Our plans are to have two flights this year. The first one will be to test some new APRS equipment and to get more experience for the students to do some tracking. The second flight will fly all the experiments which are designed and built by students from Pella Community, Pella Christain, and PEACE Homeschool.

This is the entire Pella Amateur Radio Club during a rare eye-ball meeting. Constructing the PENS-2 calendar mandated this historic occasion.

Pella High School completed their first project , showing off their

2-meter, parrot repeater.


In order to increase thier skills in finding a lost balloon-sat, Pella High students constructed their own 2-meter "fox" using a SRBMX146LV transmitter and a Byonics Pic-Con controller which the students had to assemble and solder themselves.

Everybody gets thier opportunity to solder components to the circuit board.

PEACE homeschool students study the scientific process in preparation for their experiment.

The students learn about the frequencies of radio waves and light waves.

A 95 dB RF attenuator is constructed.
The hunt for hiddend transmitters is easily taught to all ages.

Everyone tries their hand at "Fox Hunting" or searching for hidden transmitters.
The transmitter is found, hiding in a woodpile.

The prototype worked so well that Home School helped to build 3 more attenuators.
Pella Christain builds the Op Amp board for thier experiment.

Electronic componants are attached to switches for soldering.
Home School finalizes their experiment and are ready to build.
The 7th grade science class divided into four groups and each group presents their experiment idea that they want to fly.
After all proposals were presented, a plan of attack on how to build and complete each experiment was discussed.

The "EggSat" protects an egg from an eight foot drop.
The "EggSat" then needs to be weighed.
The 7th Grade "PyramidSat" is designed and constructed.
The finished "PyramidSat" is now ready to fly!
Electronics being added to the Homeschool Sat






PENS-3 was a project involving the Pella Middle School 7th grade science classes. These classes were taught by Mrs. Jackie Kilby and Mrs. Diane Fynaardt and involved almost 200 students.


We started setting up 2 hours before launch.
Helium tanks were protected.
Our Balloonmeister instructs the balloon handlers.
Making sure LED's are turned on.
Students start to gather for the launch.
The balloon is being filled.
A large crowd gathers.
The launch!
Altitude: 100 feet.
This is the view at 75,000 feet.
Notice the size of the balloon at launch.
The balloon starting to burst at 84,000 feet.
Permission is asked from land owner to retrieve our balloon from his property. Our thanks goes to the farmer for being so gracious.
Our parachutes will always be orange for this reason.
A close-up view.

We had to hike about a half mile to retrieve the balloon.
How do we untangle it from the trees?
A tree-trimmer just might come in handy.

Tree climbers were necessary to complete the task.

This is the predicted flight path.
This is the actual path (pretty close).

This is the beacon at the highest altitude before the balloon burst.

Roger Riley from TV 13 was with us all the way.
All the BalloonSats were recovered without damaging any of the trees. Traditional recovery team photo!

Watch the launch video.
Watch the "Down Camera" video.
Watch the "Up Camera" video.
Watch us free the BalloonSats from the tree.
Watch the TV-13 news coverage.


Final Data from Home School BalloonSat