What You Need
Can I make my own inflation hose or use a cheap one without a regulator?
The High Altitude Science Inflation System is one of the few on the market that includes a gas regulator. This is essential to keeping you and your team safe during the inflation process. The regulator’s job is not just to regulate flow rate! Just slightly cracking open the valve on the gas cylinder is no substitute to using a regulator!
The purpose of the regulator is to regulate the pressure of the helium coming out of the gas cylinder below the bursting pressure of the gas hose that connects to the inflation nozzel. If you were to inflate your balloon without a gas regulator and were to accidentally step on the hose or twisted a kink into it, the unregulated pressure would cause the hose to explode. The high-pressure gas explosion could cause the inflation hose to lash back with enough force to cause serious injury. NEVER EVER work with high-pressure gas without a regulator.
Make sure the helium cylinder is lying on its side so it cannot fall over. Screw the gas regulator into the gas cylinder valve until hand tight. The High Altitude Science Inflation System regulator has a rubber seal so you don’t need any tools. Do not use a tool to tighten it down or you will damage the seal.
Take your launch scale and measure A) weight of your payload and B) weight of your inflation nozzle. Record these weights for step 6. If you haven’t already, you'll need to tie a short piece of line to the bottom of your inflation nozzle and secure with electrical tape. Tie a loop in the other end for your launch scale hook.
After putting on your gloves, carefully remove the weather balloon from its package and loosely hold it in your hands. Depending on the size of the balloon, you may need extra helpers.
Some people prefer to lay the balloon on a clean tarp as opposed to having a few people loosely hold it in their hands. This works too, but it's one more thing to have to worry about. If it’s windy, tarps can be difficult to manage and keep clean. Objects used to hold the tarp down in wind can also damage or puncture the balloon.
Carefully insert the inflation nozzle into the balloon nozzle and secure with the included bungee cord. You should wrap the bungee cord around the nozzle three times to properly secure the balloon neck to the inflation nozzle.
Open the gas cylinder valve and begin inflating. As the balloon fills with helium it will lift out of your helpers' hands. Always keep your eyes on the neck of the balloon to make sure it does not twist above the inflation nozzle. If it does, your balloon neck will blow out and your balloon will be destroyed. It’s also best to keep one hand on the gas cylinder valve so you can quickly close it if you see the balloon start to twist.
Continue to inflate your balloon until it is generating enough lift. To tell how much lift you have, use your launch scale to pull down on the inflation nozzle until there is slack in the inflation hose. Add the weight of the launch nozzle from Step 2 to the reading on your scale to calculate your Actual Lift. You’ll want to keep inflating your balloon until you have about 500g more lift than the weight of your payload. This is your Required Lift.
Actual Lift = Reading On Scale + Weight of Inflation Nozzle
Required Lift = Weight of Payload + 500g
Congratulations! You can be confident you haven’t under- or over-inflated your balloon. You are now ready to tie off your balloon.