All scanners are under software control and there is no need to see them so I have relocated them to a rack in the server room. Also relocated is the associated audio processing equipment: line level amplifier, compressor and USB sound card. Now I have more space in the main operating area.
These scanners monitor POR and CONUS UHF Satcom, local Military Air and Public Safety. All audio is recorded and streamed for remote use.
The Perseid Meteor Shower was a dud for me. I setup a camera on an intervalometer to take a 30 second exposure every 30 seconds for 5 hours but only recorded two meteors. This was the night before the “peak” and perhaps it was a grand show the next day but unfortunately I was not able to take any pictures so this is it.
The image below is a stacking of all images from first meteor event to last meteor event, a total duration of 34 minutes. This is not one long exposure, it just appears that way.
Two meteors over 34 minute window.
Here is individual image of the first meteor event.
First meteor after several hours of monitoring.
Here is individual image of the last meteor event.
The image of the sun below was taken with a Hydrogen Alpha telescope. The image shows a large dark area in the lower left region. This is known as a “dark filament” and is more than 300,000 kilometers in length. The dark area is filled with cooled plasma and is expected to collapse at some point and produce a Hyder Flare. The is corrected to show north as up.
Ran across something called “Earth Scope” on a recent visit to the Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. Some quick googling yielded:
GPS geodesy provide complementary measurement systems for resolving strain-rate over the time period proposed for the Plate Boundary Observatory. GPS strain rate sensitivity is better at longer periods, which allows for the detection of plate motion and long-period transients.
This location is part of a backbone network of 136 sites that provide a long-wavelength, long-period synoptic view of the entire plate boundary zone.
GPS Antenna and Receiver.
Electronics box with Solar Panel.
Cellular/Radio Antenna, presumably for internet access.
Once a year we are treated to a moon that appears much larger than normal (especially at the horizon). This occurs when the moon is at perigee and is full. June 23, 2013 is this year’s event. Click on the image below to go to my Supermoon page.
Another great day for Sonde Recovery here in sunny California. The winds are good, the weather is nice and the sun is still up at landing time giving plenty of light. This Sonde was originally predicted to land near Rancho Murieta, CA but the winds and descent rate changed that to somewhere near Galt, CA. As i drove past Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant (retired) I thought “good thing its not landing here”.
Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant.
The Sonde started out in Oakland and made steady progress until the balloon burst around 32,000 km, then it made an usual rapid descent into a country neighborhood known as Saddle Creek in a small town called Galt. It seems from the landing site that the parachute only partially deployed explaining the rapid descent. The parachute was not fully deployed because remnants of the balloon entangled the lines below the chute.
Sonde Path from Oakland to Galt.
The output of r00ts RRS decoder software is shown below. This is a combination of data received from the home station and the mobile station. While in route to landing area, r00t informed me that the home system lost the signal. So I pulled over and pointed the 8 turn helical antenna to re-acquire the signal. This gave us some additional data points for r00t to know which neighborhood the landing will occur. The sonde landed while I was still 14 miles out from area.
Final Landing Location.
As you can see from the image below, as I entered the neighborhood (i have tracker so r00t can see my location) it was pretty easy to re-acquire the signal and get the exact location of the Sonde. It landed in someones backyard and I could see it from along the fence line. I found a neighbor that contacted the properly owner and obtained permission to enter the area and retrieve the Sonde.
Sonde Landing Location.
The recovered Sonde was in pretty good shape but did have a impact area on bottom due to rapid descent speed.
Here is short video about home receiving station, mobile setup and the recovery of this particular Sonde.
Too many signals on different bands and tired of manually changing feed lines? Mini-circuits has a nice line of RF Matrix Switches that are USB controlled. I recently acquired a USB-4SPDR-A18 and have now finally gotten around to mounting and installing the new switch.
The switch is made of 4 independent relays that must be wired for proper group operation. The relays are controlled by a small embedded processor with a USB interface.
USB-4SPDT-A18 configured as SP5T (except for one missing jumper).
Since the relays have SMA connectors it is necessary to jumper to some additional SMA to N Female bulkhead adaptors for proper stress relief and cable management.
5 inputs and 1 output.
Bank od sma to N female bulkheads and grounding block.
The final placement, just before wiring. Note the station ground block, this will connect all receivers to station ground system (located near the coax entry area in another room).
Freshly installed microwave switch along with station grounding block.
Here is screenshot of the software I am using to control the relays. I plan to use an included DLL to customize a GUI for my own use.
The sample software from mini-circuits for relay control.
Spring is nearing and so is the 2013 Sonde season. Landings are still in the dark so not too good for video or pictures but that will soon change. This is Sonde #4 (SN 7037645), it was launched from Oakland California on March 7th 2013 at 3pm and retrieved the same day at 7pm while still transmitting it’s position from a field near Elk Grove California.
The Sonde was received on L-Band (1682 MHz) using a 1.2m dish and tracked using r00t’s RRS Sonde Decoding software (shown below).
Last received position data from Sonde#4 before going to retrieve.
Here is the recovered Sonde.
As you can see it had bit of a hard landing.
Sonde#4 showing an impact hit on landing.
Launch location, date and time.
Here is nice 3D position track of Sonde from point of first signal acquisition to the last received position before going mobile to retrieve. The position near Elk Grove is landing area.
3D plot of position data from Sonde#4.
The elevation profile is shown below, as you can see it was a quick and steep descent.
Elevation profile of Sonde#4 up until last signal was received.
As you can see from image below, r00t’s predicted landing spot was pretty close to the actual one. This was critical because once the Sonde lands the signal is attenuated quite a bit. I picked up the signal about 1.5 miles from actual landing position and luckily it was very close to a road in between fields.
Last, Predicted and Actual Landing Position of Sonde#4.
Another winter project! Mobile Sonde hunting is difficult enough without having to worry about the radio moving around in the back seat as one drives. In the past, my R8500′s power or IF would disconnect depending on how fast a turn was made, but not anymore. I have ruggedized the entire setup; power connection and IF connections have been replaced, all equipment is now rack mounted in a nice portable case. Just in time for the upcoming improved wind situation here in Northern California.
Ruggedized sonde setup.
ICOM IC-R8500 and SDR-IQ.
SDR-IQ is perfect SDR for mobile sonde hunting.
Although the batteries shown below are not exclusively for Sonde hunting, they will be used for that purpose.