Poster Presentation

Use and Implementation of the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) on high altitude payloads

  • Sam Fink (Recent College of Charleston graduate)
  • Robert Moody (College of Charleston)
  • Carson Keeter (College of Charleston)
  • Cassandra Runyon (College of Charleston)
  • Cynthia Hall (College of Charleston)


Once a weather balloon enters the uncontrollable realm of nature upon release it is subject to a high degree of freedom and flight path options. Passive tracking methods become essential to physically follow the trajectory, the balloon, and its payload. The Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) provides an ideal platform for tracking high-altitude and low earth orbit instrumentation because at zenith there is no radio horizon. Demonstrated aboard the International Space Station, this simple system provides the maximum tracking range at very low power and cost with very high accuracy, by utilizing existing federally funded infrastructure. An amateur radio license is required to utilize the APRS network, and additionally provides a reliable mean of communication with ground/team personal. Both APRS and very high frequency (VHF) radio communications were critically utilized during the August 2017 Solar Eclipse balloon launch by both the College of Charleston and Universidad Interamericana (Puerto Rico) High Altitude Balloon Teams, providing all tracking data above 110,000 feet after the primary Iridium tracking system failed. This poster is intended to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating APRS and to advocate its use for future launches.

How to Cite:

Fink, S., Moody, R., Keeter, C., Runyon, C. & Hall, C., (2017) “Use and Implementation of the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) on high altitude payloads”, Academic High Altitude Conference 2017(1). doi:



Published on
27 Oct 2017