New Heights - Part 3

High Altitude Weather Balloon

Nolan Sobel-Read

Issue 71, June 2023

Another update from high school student, Nolan, about getting his STEM project into space.

In our January Issue 66, we introduced you to a young secondary school student, Nolan, who needed funding to build and launch a high-altitude weather balloon and take measurements high up in the stratosphere (That’s over 30km in altitude or roughly 100,000 feet!).

Nolan outlined the goals for the project and what electronics he needed. We were only too happy to help out, and started sourcing the parts Nolan needed.

As a trade, we’ve asked Nolan to document his journey so that we can share it with our readers who may want to do something similar or be inspired by the work that he’s doing.

The following is another update on Nolan’s project progress. We will publish more throughout the next few issues as Nolan’s project progresses.

Hi Everyone!

It’s Nolan here again, with a short update on my balloon project.

As you may remember, I am a year-11 student at the Hunter School of the Performing Arts in Newcastle. For the past year and a half, I have been constructing a weather balloon with the goal to launch it to 100,000 feet (30km), or a third of the way to space. DIYODE has been tremendously kind and has contributed funds for parts so I thought it would be fun to provide an update.

I am currently working with my mentor, Cameron Owen from Saphi Engineering, to finish off the code for the project, as we now have all of the technical components wired up.

The next stage is to start sending more and more data across satellite relay, through my Artemis Global Tracker, mentioned in my previous article (See . In flight, this will give redundancy for information gathering as well as regular updates on the location of the balloon during flight.

We will then run a series of tests for the different components, in addition to physical tests. We will see how long the battery can run all of the sensors, as well as test the physical durability of the payload and components in various environments. These tests include putting the whole payload into a freezer to confirm that the electronics can withstand cold temperatures as they will have to during flight. In another test we will put the payload out on concrete in the sun, to make sure it can withstand the heat in case it takes us a while to retrieve it upon landing – we want to be certain it won’t overheat and catch on fire! It shouldn’t, but best to be sure!

We are also working on figuring out a place to do the actual launch and are currently looking at a small town in rural NSW, but there are still some details yet to be worked out so I’ll leave that big announcement for a different article in the near future. We have some exciting plans in the works though!

I mentioned Cameron Owen at Saphi Engineering above – I would like to take the chance to give him a huge shout-out and a big thank you. Cameron has been a massive help throughout this process with all the code (and so many other things too!).

As I mentioned in my first article (Issue 66), my coding skills aren’t amazing so my teacher Mr Ben Moore got in contact with Cameron for assistance.

Cameron has been incredibly generous to meet with me every Tuesday afternoon to help me with the coding side of things. I could not have done all this without his help. I have learned so much from him and it has been an amazing experience to work with him.

That’s all from me for now, I’m looking forward to giving more updates in the coming issues, things should really start taking off soon! (Pun intended).

Thanks again for your support,


Shout out to Saphi Engineering

New Heights - Part 1
New Heights - Part 2
New Heights - Part 3

Nolan Sobel-Read

Year 11 Student - Hunter School of the Performing Arts, Newcastle Australia