Radio Sonde Hunting

A quick little last minute outing for Ivan VK5HS and Danny VK5DW.

The weather albeit terrible for most things, blowing a gale and dust a plenty, it provided an opportunity not always available to those of us in the Riverland. The winds were predicted to carry a Bureau Of Meteorology Radio Sonde Weather Balloon over Loxton/Berri areas.

After a bit of very late planning on Friday night we were to set out, the first time for the both of us, on Saturday morning to see if we could get ourselves one of these Radio Sonde thingies.

We don’t have anything specific set up for balloon chasing so we pulled together a couple bits and pieces with the hope we would get a bit lucky. We took with us a laptop PC, an Android tablet, a UHF SSB receiver, a 70cm hand held and a 70cm yagi. We were anticipating failure but hoping for success.

We met up and got underway only to have the predictions change, which was going to take us into a no phone coverage area… what will we do without internet??? Oh well we’re moving now, lets see what happens!

We managed, somehow, to hold onto internet coverage for a good part of our outing but when lost we worked as best we could from the point last known, thanks to the last info we had from HabHub (Rob VK5TRM, RRC member, was the last data we saw), albeit still several hundred meters high… the thing could be anywhere!

20180414_104828Luckily the things hadn’t died when it hit the ground and we managed to pick up a signal. After a bit of radio detection finding we moved into position along Gordon Rd. We worked to a point near a farm house and had some certainty by this time it was in their paddock.

We called into the farmhouse and met up with Bill the property owner, luckily also known to Danny VK5DW. We explained what we were doing and that we believed a weather balloon had come down in his paddock. Bill was more than happy for us to go and have a go at finding the thing.20180414_104842

After about a 2km drive into Bill’s paddock the signal seems to be adjacent to us… on the other side of the fence. So out we get and a couple more sweeps with the SSB RXer and yagi we agreed it was out there. After about 150m walk… eureka there it was, and so was the cattle. Not really time to hang around and attract too much attention to ourselves.

20180414_105857Just a little pleased with ourselves we headed back to the car, being sand blasted as we went, and back home.

This is the first time either of us had been in a balloon chase and had a blast. The Radio Sonde is likely to be reprogrammed so we can use it for Chase training by the RRC.

Cheers and 73’s,

Danny VK5DW

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