W5VSI Beacon/Cut down System

The orange box is the primary piece of hardware. It contains the beacon and a receiver and controlling hardware. The antenna is attached to the left (bottom actually) side of the beacon. The white box in the center of the picture is the cutdown switch and power supply. Control signals are sent to this box along the yellow cable. The actual cut down devices are the two foil wrapped boxes on the right of the picture above.

Above is a shot of the interior of the beacon. In the upper right corner, power, to the left of that, the controller boards including DTMF decoding systems. While it is a bit hard to make out, along the bottom of the picture (under a yellow wire) is an Alinco DJ-C1 2 meter transceiver (shown outside of payload below)


When the cut down switch and power supply box (above) gets its command it sends a surge of electricity along the grey cable to one of two cut down devices. These "devices" are nothing more than Styrofoam containers holding a piece of nichrome wire securely in place along the support string of the payload (below). When the cut down command comes, the surge of electricity heats the nichrome wire and cuts through the nylon payload string, thus cutting away the balloon or perhaps some other piece of equipment on the payload string that should be discarded.