hab.education: Promoting STEAM to Youth with High Altitude Ballooning

Finally, something to get my mind of this crazy election.

I met this guy at Dayton one year, and totally forgot about it.

Dustin (@BalloonEDU) is a clone of mine, or perhaps I’m a clone of his..basically our mindsets align strangely closely regarding ham radio, education, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design, math…which used to be STEM now Art/design gets a mention) promotion and high altitude ballooning. I met him at Venture Cafe in St Louis, which is a place where young professionals (aka yuppies) meet to find people to collaborate, kickstart, and invest in their ideas.

In my case, I went the first time for free beer. Little did I know I would find a ham.

Dustin, KE0BVB, is a leader of hab.education – a volunteer-based educational program that promotes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Math) by having school kids build and launch high altitude balloons.

It was just last month when I started up my Echoloon project.

He and I met after some of my college friends started texting me.


I bolted to the car, sped my way there, and signed in, skipping the line for free beer. I got to the conference room they were in a bit late, just after his talk, meanwhile a man from Stofiel Aerospace was giving a talk on his balloon-launched orbital rocket company…that’s pretty cool! Turns out Mr. Stofiel was turning towards Dustin for his expertise on high altitude balloon tracking.

This was all too awesome. With my Echoloon idea, and my work with FaradayRF, now hab.education…this was all coming to a head.

We talked for only a few minutes and unearthed the single most detrimental issue in ham radio high altitude ballooning – fragmentation. Like I mentioned in my Echoloon post, hardware and software development in high altitude ballooning and ham radio in general is all over the place! It’s fragmented. There’s the California Near Space Project, K6RPT, there’s Bill Brown WB8ELK, there’s ARHAB, and UKHAS…and dozens more! Those are just the biggest names. They even have made their own freakin’ Balloon Open Hardware License!

They’re all over the place, and I don’t think there’s been a lot of cross-talk between them, and some are choosing to develop their trackers and payloads in closed-source secrecy, and man, that’s a bummer. We could really rule the skies and help STEAM education a lot with a standard platform specification. That’s my side-goal for Project Echoloon.

I really want to bring everyone together. I wonder if anyone’s started a High Altitude Balloon consortium or annual conference……


lol. Just missed it. 🙁

So yeah. I got so excited about this encounter that I called Neil Rapp in excitement to get it off my chest during his HamTalkLive! call-in show. I come in around 24:20. Haha.