San Jose man preparing to launch another weather balloon


By Lisa Fernandez

Publication: San Jose Mercury News (California)

Date: Saturday, March 27 2010


San Jose’s “Balloon Man” is once again looking to the skies and checking the weather forecast as he prepares another launch.

Weather permitting, Ron Meadows, a 54-year-old amateur helium balloon launcher (when he’s not running his pool service business), will send a high-altitude weather balloon into the stratosphere Saturday morning in Central California.

This will be Meadows’ second launch.

Last year, his flight was profiled in the Mercury News, and people from around the globe turned to his Web site,, to watch the flight from Los Banos to Merced in real time.

People will once again be able to track the progress of his balloon.

“I received a lot of e-mails while the flight was in progress last time,” Meadows said. “People were just amazed.”

Meadows filled the balloon with 150 cubic feet of helium and connected it to a parachute carrying a tracker, a temperature-logging system, a ham radio cross band repeater and a camera that will snap photos every 15 seconds at the horizon.

Meadows said he expects the balloon to soar more than 100,000 feet above the Earth into the stratosphere, where temperatures are colder than -60 degrees.

At that point, the balloon should expand from 6 feet to 31 feet in diameter and burst, falling back down to earth.

Meadows initial investment into the project was about $2,500, and then he spent a “couple hundred” more on a new balloon. He cites many reasons for spending so much time and energy on this hobby.

“I love the idea of sending up something so high, getting as close to space as you can get,” Meadows said. “And it’s also using the radio equipment, the science, the tracking, the photography, the recovery and all aspects of the flight. It’s all my favorite interests in one.”


Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.


Go to and type in the balloon”s call sign, K6RPT-12.

Go to

The ham radio user will transmit on 446.000, 100 hz pl and receive on 146.460.

If you have a scanner, you can listen to the cross ban repeater on 146.460.