The June 1, 2012 launch yeilded the greatest max balloon height of all previous launches, according to Frank. The max height is limitied by when the balloon bursts. There are many factors that cause this burst, obviously, and some of them are out of our control. However, one good way to help ensure the balloon gets a good deal of altitude is to prepare it properly. Since the 2012 launch gave the best altitude results, the following description of how the balloon was prepped the day prior to the launch is intended to assist future launches in achieving similar success.
Our class used the same parachute and pod system from a previous launch; we just attatched our balloon and a couple pods of our own to make it ready for our specific purposes. The procedure our balloon prep group used for handling the 800g balloon took about 10 minutes or so and was as follows:
- First we put on rubber/latex gloves. THIS IS HUGELY IMPORTANT because the oils in a person's skin will weaken the ballon if they get on it, and these weaknesses will cause the balloon to burst way too early as it ascends. So if you are going to handle the balloon to any degree at all, you must put on latex gloves first (we recommend stealing them from the chemistry lab).
- Take a small section of pvc pipe and insert it into the neck of the balloon (our pipe was a leftover from a previous launch; hopefully this same piece has been preserved for future launches). This will keep the neck open somewhat so the balloon can be filled with the helium on launch day while it is attatched to the parachute and pods
- Now get 4 zipties. Find the ends of the pvc pipe that's in the neck of the balloon and ziptie the balloon and underlying pipe firmly together close to each end (now the pipe won't slide around inside the neck). Lay a third ziptie "the long way" across the other two (parallel to the length of the pvc pipe segment). Now firmly ziptie the pipe + balloon together right at the midpoint of the pipe with the fourth ziptie. At this pioint, the pipe and balloon will be fastened together by three zipties and the middle (fourth) ziptie will also be holding the untied, "long way" ziptie down tightly against the balloon/pipe. Don't mess with this unfastened "long way" ziptie. It will be used later.
- Cut the tails off of the three zipties that are holding everything together. Now tape around these zipties to cover up any sharp edges that cutting the tails created. For ths part we used hockey tape, I think, and went around each ziptie about three times.
- Now take a look at the remaining length of balloon neck, if there is any. Fold it upwards (towards/against the pvc pipe) and get a fifth ziptie and tie it off so the remaining balloon neck is secured.
- Lastly, retrieve the parachute and bring it to your work station (gloves still on!). Coming out of the top of the parachute will be a length of string(s). You now want lay this string across the "long ways" ziptie from before (the string will be in the same orientation as the other zipties that were wrapped around the pvc pipe). Tighten the ziptie as far as it will go. Cut the tail and tape over it like you did the others. You should now have your balloon and parachute securely connected and ready to be launched, and the balloon should be prepared to take in the helium when the time comes.
- Place the balloon back in its bag with all the attatchments on it. This is just an extra precaution for safe keeping until it needs to be brought out for the actual launch.
- YOU'RE DONE! Hopefully the balloon is ready to acheive results similar to the June 1, 2012 launch.[[Media:Media:Example.ogg]]