I posted the below on a ham radio forum but got zero responses, so I figured I would post here:
I did my first high altitude balloon flight with an APRS tracker this past weekend. I used a commercially available device called a "Stratotrack" which is specifically made for tracking high altitude balloon flights. The manufacturer programs the call sign, SSID, and transmit frequency prior to shipping. I chose once per minute, which seems to be what most people go with. It is a completely plug-and-play device; all I had to do was put one AA battery in it and attach it to the flight line.
The device worked flawlessly in terms of tracking the balloon, giving us altitude, speed, direction and temperature for the entire flight.
However, at one point during the flight, I noticed that one of the pages on the APRS.FI site had a message highlighted in red that said "SERIOUSLY BAD PATH" or something to that effect, along with a message that said the transmission was coming from a high altitude and should not be using APRS in that fashion.
The manufacturer of the device provides the following info in the manual:
Altitude Path Description:
< 2500 m Wide1-1, WIDE2-2 Packet repeated up to three times
2500 to 4000 m Wide2-2 Packet repeated up to two times
4000 m Wide2-1 Packet repeated up to one time.
They explain this configuration is used to keep the device from overloading the APRS network when at higher altitudes.
But from what I was seeing on the APRS site the day of the flight, it appears to have been causing problems anyway. I am really concerned about that, but unclear how to resolve it, as the device has no user-adjustable settings, so I'm not sure what I could have done differently.
Any input greatly appreciated.