WX Sonde Chasing

I happen to be in the bay area and so decided to take advantage of a sonde launch from the Oakland airport. The goal was to track and retrieve the sonde. I regularly receive and track these sondes from home, but they are never really close enough to try to retrieve them.

To prepare for this adventure I built the following 8-turn RHCP helical antenna, tuned for 1680 MHz.

8-Turn RHCP Helical Antenna with internal supports.

8-Turn RHCP Helical Antenna with nice hand grip for mobile field use.

For the mobile tracking system I am using an ICOM IC-R8500, RF Space SDR-IQ and a L-band pre-amp along with some custom software (thanks r00t). The video below shows the mobile tracking system in operation.

Here is the entire track from the time I turned on the system to the actual landing, this includes receiving signal while driving along various highways/roads. The signal was very strong all the time.

This is the actual path of the sonde as received by mobile tracking station via GPS.

If you look closely you will see that the sonde landed on an Island! One that was not accessible by vehicle and unfortunately I didn’t bring a boat (this time).

Detail of landing location (yeah, it’s an Island!)

Sonde tracking is a bit addictive and so I will likely try another mobile track and retrieve operation in the future.

Category(s): Sonde
Tags: , ,

3 Responses to WX Sonde Chasing

  1. I’ve wanted to track/find a radiosonde for years. When I was a kid one of my neighbors found one. Did you use a balloon trajectory prediction program before setting out in your car?

    Thanks,

    -Charlie

    • Hi Charlie,

      Well, the sonde sends GPS coordinates, so i just use that and Google Earth to find my way. It is very precise, but of course you must have mobile l-band receiver and antenna to do this.

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