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PicoBalloon Challenge 2022 begins!

Will the fourth run of the competition be as interesting as the previous ones? Or even more? It will not be easy to beat the multiple rounds around the globe or the beacon mounted with a camera… But we believe that you will do your best to try! And so we are officially opening the applications for this year’s picoBalloon Challenge, which will be held on June 25 at the premises of the Brno Observatory and Planetarium in cooperation with the Slovak Organisation for Space Activities.

What is a picoBalloon?

A picoBalloon, or a High Altitude Balloon is a small beacon tied to a relatively normal balloon filled with helium. The beacon is very light and can contain various sensors measuring basic atmospheric variables – there are no limits to your creativity. The data is obtained by radio transmission using unlicensed or licensed bands. In ideal conditions, the balloon can rise up to 10 kilometers, where it floats and drifts with the air streams. A picoBalloon presents a very interesting challenge for makers – be it working with the limited weight, limited power options or radio communication.

How to apply?

  • Register your team by sending a mail to piko@hvezdarna.cz
  • For registration purposes please state
    • the names of all the members and the team name or the call sign
    • the name of your school or university if you are attending as a student
    • the email address and ideally the phone number of the team leader.
  • The registration deadline is Tuesday, May 31st, 2022 at midnight.

What are we competing for?

  • The authors of the longest flying picoBalloon (or the last flying and transmitting) win a cash prize of 1000 € (paid in CZK).
  • The authors of the 4 following balloons win a cash prize of 200 € per team (paid in CZK).

Rules

  1. All balloons will be launched one by one from the Brno Observatory and Planetarium on Saturday, June 25. In case of bad weather, the competition will be moved to a later date.
  2. Competition is for teams as well as individuals. Each contestant (team or individual) can launch one picoBalloon.
  3. All costs connected to participation (probe building, travel, accommodation) are covered by the contestants.
  4. The organiser supplies helium for filling and microfoil balloons Qualatex 36″, which are mandatory. Launching own balloon filled with own gas is not allowed.
  5. Each beacon is given 1 balloon with a sticker. The sticker contains the email address of the organiser and the team name.
  6. The order of the winners is determined by total flight duration.
  7. The total flight duration is calculated as time between the launch and the last received message. If the communication dies for 240 hours (10 day) the picoBalloon is labeled as lost.
  8. The communication bands and protocols are not given. The beacon has to use such communication method so that is can be tracked from any place on Earth and furthermore, it needs to comply with the telecommunication laws of different countries.
  9. The beacon needs to fall under 20 grams of weight with all accessories. All beacons will be weighted before the launch and all above the limit will be disqualified.
  10. A mandatory information provided by the beacon is its approximate altitude. The means of acquisition is not given.
  11. Data obtained from the picoBalloon has to be continuously forwarded to the organiser.
  12. The organiser is not liable for incorrect information used in connection with the competition. (Either caused by human factor or by a technical error)
  13. Beware that any attempt to discredit or disturb the legitimate run of the competition can be labeled as a violation of the rules and can lead to disqualification. A fine for damage compensation can be filed.
  14. The participation in the competition is voluntary. The winners will be contacted after the competition ends. The prize payout is dependent on a signed agreement with the organizer.
  15. In case of any discrepancies, the director of the Brno Observatory and Planetarium has the final say. No appeals are possible.