Good Friday Sonde Hunt

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.

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.

Sonde Path from Oakland to Galt.

Elevation Profile.

Elevation Profile.

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.

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.

Sonde Landing Location.

The recovered Sonde was in pretty good shape but did have a impact area on bottom due to rapid descent speed.

Recovered Sonde.

Recovered Sonde.

Hard Landing.

Hard Landing.

Here is short video about home receiving station, mobile setup and the recovery of this particular Sonde.

Category(s): Sonde
Tags: ,

9 Responses to Good Friday Sonde Hunt

    Doug Niessen says:

    Good catch, and quite a home system. What is the small dish ant for?

  1. Hi Doug,

    That is a C-Band system. You can read about it here: https://usa-satcom.com/c-band-downconverter/

    Doug Niessen says:

    Have you ever compared any of the online high altitude balloon prediction pgms to the actual flights you have tracked and recovered. If so were they close?

    • Doug, Yes, I use http://habhub.org/predict/ to decide which ones are worth tracking and potentially recovering. They tell you general flight path and area of landing, sometimes it is way off and sometimes it’s within 25 miles or so just depends.

    Doug Niessen says:

    Hi Joe,

    Any new catches over the summer?
    We have had Folsom type weather this last week, 80’s at night and mid to upper 90’s during the day with 102 a few days ago and no ground level wind. Upper level winds have been keeping the sondes out of reach.

    • Hi Doug,

      Nothing, i have been quite busy with other things unfortunately. But I am worried i may get shut out as the daylight grows shorter each say, so I may renew my interest in next few weeks to see if i can pick up another one. We have lots of smoke over here due to fires.

  2. Hi Joe,
    The local (KBIS) NWS has started using the new LMS-6 sonde.
    Have you found any lately?

    • Doug, I have not. I also have not seen a signal from one yet. I will check and see if they are launching them yet over here. I heard the signals are stronger but slightly different frame structure.

  3. I tracked one a few nights ago, same modulation and same freq. I don’t know if the met data is in the same format but the gps is the same as the MKIIa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *