Radiosonde

© Brooke Clarke 2017

Background
Theory
Description
Photos
    Space Data Corp.
    Air Inc Airsonde AS-1A-PTH
    Viz
   
    Viz Mark II
        ML659(V)  p/n: 1461-053
        Viz MD-210B/AMT-4B Modulator
        Viz T-435A/AMT-4B Transmitter
    Vaisala RS80-67
    Vaisala  RD93 GPS Dropsonde
    Batteries
Rawinsonde
Manuals
Patents
Radar Reflectors - Roswell Connection
Related
References
Links

Background 

This is part of my interest in weather, Cloud Sensors and Electronics/Radio.

Typical frequencies are 403 and 1680 MHz.  These are typically lofted using a free balloon, but sometimes are dropped from aircraft using a parachute (Dropsonde).  They can be tracked using a Pilot Balloon Theodolite or by means of an automatically following receiving antenna.  For the Project Mogul balloon flights they also used the Direction Finder (Wiki) radio in a chase airplane that would fly below the balloon.  This required a special balloon transmitter in the frequency range of the DF radio.    The most modern radiosondes make use of GPS.

Theory

Very early balloon lifted weather instruments were essentially the same a ground based instruments such as drum recorders or smoked glass recorders.  But starting with the availability of vacuum tubes (Wiki) in the early 1900s radio telemetry (Wiki) was used. There were numerous schemes of how to encode the weather data, typically barometric pressure, temperature and humidity, onto the radio frequency signal.

Chronometric encoding

The idea here is to have meter faces all in the same plane and a contact driven by a clockwork, say once per minute.  Then the clock dial can be divided up, for example: 0 to 15 seconds the temperature, 16 to 30 seconds the humidity and 31 to 59 seconds the barometric pressure.  With a reference signal at the top of the minute.  This is an unambiguous readout, but the clockwork motors are mechanical and so not as reliable as more modern electronic methods.

Coding (Lange)

These sent Morse code (Wiki) messages. a big advantage is that a radio or telegraph operator can write down the data, but at a huge expense in the mechanism.
2287786 Automatic weather station, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S Hinman, 1942-06-30 - does not require a specialized receiver.

 

Radio Frequency Modulation

This had problems in that many things cause the frequency of an oscillator to change in addition to the parameter that was being measured.

NBS - Diamond & Hinman -  Navy: Pressure Drive

For example see AMT-4B Modulator Fig 2 below and Figures 52 & 53 in the reference and patents 2283919 & 2689342 below.  This system worked fine for a free weather balloon that is always rising.  But. . . has a problem with what is supposed to be a constant altitude balloon where it goes up and down in cycles.  That makes interpreting the data almost impossible.  This caused problems for the project MOGUL balloon flights (Wiki).

References:

The Invention and Development of the Radiosonde, with a Catalog of Upper-Atmospheric Telemetering Probes in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 2002 -
Harry Diamond (Wiki) - Hary Diamond Labs (Wiki) - a key part of the development of the proximity fuze.  holds a number of patents including aircraft DF

Description (Wiki)

The first generation were balloon carried radio transmitter sending barometric pressure (altitude), temperature and humidity back to a ground station.  A Pilot Balloon (Pibal) theodolite would track the balloon by recording azimuth and elevation vs. time, which can be converted to a map of the balloon location and altitude.  A fist step in making a weather map or forecast.

Later special radar sets (Rawinsonde) replaced the pibal theodolites.  The first generation used the SCR-582 anti-aircraft RADAR (Wiki) sets and ML-307 reflectors (TM 750-5-3 pg 133).  The latest units contain built-in GPS receivers.

Photos

Space Data Corp.

This radiosonde was made by Space Data Corp.
6660-NC-830-3482
Cage: 27555
Mfg p/n: 691-4005-02
Contract: F04606-89-C-1041  (year 1989)

Fig 1 SDC

SDC
                        Radiosonde

Fig 2

SDC
                        Radiosonde

Fig 3 Paper Tape and Humidity
sensor on lid.

SDC
                        Radiosonde

Fig 4

SDC
                        Radiosonde




A.I.R. Inc Airsonde Model: AS-1A-PTH radiosonde

250 to 1050 MB
Base station coefficients:
Tc.A2(2).A1(2).A0(2);
0 90 -60 -95 5 70
Carrier Freq. Mhz    403.500

Atmospheric Instrumentation Research

Patent 4112753
4112753
                      Meteorological measuring apparatus
Fig 1 New in sealed bag
A.I.R. Inc Airsonde Model: AS-1A-PTH
                      radiosonde
Fig 2
A.I.R. Inc Airsonde Model: AS-1A-PTH
                      radiosonde




4907449 Meteorological data encoder for measuring atmospheric conditions, A.I.R., Inc., Mar 13, 1990, 73/170.28, 73/724, 374/170 -

4112753 Meteorological measuring apparatus, David B. Call, Sep 12, 1978, 73/170.28, 340/870.1 -
"
A radiosonde is conformable for use either as a disposable sonde in which the device will ascend vertically to a predetermined altitude and when the balloon from which it is suspended bursts at a maximum altitude the sonde will automatically flip over and autogyrate at a reduced rate of descent back to earth; or may be used as a tethered radiosonde in which it is suspended from a tethered balloon in such a way as to be freely rotatable about a substantially horizontal axis. In either version, the sonde is characterized by a generally helicoidal propeller construction having thermistor-receiving end tips and whereby the propellers will impart sufficient spin or rotation to the sonde as to cause the desired degree of aspiration to provide accurate wet bulb psychometric measurements; and further the propeller construction is such as to permit freefall at a reduced controlled rate of speed without the assistance of a parachute."

4543836 Modular cup-type anemometer, David B. Call, Atmospheric Instrumentation Research, Inc., Oct 1, 1985, 73/861.85, 416/197.00A, 416/212.00A -

Viz


Viz Mark II radiosonde

p/n:1540-510  1540-611
NSN 6660-01-348-7451,  ML-674(V)3/TMQ
 Viz
                      Mark II radiosonde



1680 MHz



Viz Mark II
                      radiosonde

ML659(V)  p/n: 1461-053



Viz MD-210B/AMT-4B Modulator Fig 1

Rawinsonde
See FM 6-16 Ch 6.6 Radiosondes for detailed description.
FM signal modulated by audio frequency switched by barometric pressure.

Viz MD-210B/AMT-4B Modulator

Fig 2
Viz MD-210B/AMT-4B Modulator
Fig 3
Viz MD-210B/AMT-4B Modulator

Viz T-435A/AMT-4B Transmitter Fig 1

Rawinsonde

Viz T-435A/AMT-4B Transmitter
Fig 2 1680 MHz +20/- 10 MHz adj.
Viz T-435A/AMT-4B Transmitter

Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde

Fig 1
Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde
Fig 2
Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde
Fig 3
Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde
Fig 4
Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde
Fig 5
Vaisala RS80-67 radiosonde


Vaisala  RD93 GPS Dropsonde (data sheet.pdf)

PS the photo on the data sheet shows both red tapes in place and the chute deployed, i.e. a fake photo.

Airborne Vertical Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS)

UCAR/Intellectual Property and NCAR/SSSF have licensed Vaisala Inc. of Woburn, Massachusetts to build the NCAR GPS Dropsonde, as Vaisala model RD93.

This is a dropsonde (dropped from an aircraft) rather than a radiosonde that's lifted by a pilot balloon.  In includes a built-in GPS receiver so no tracking is needed.  A special receiver is used to capture both the weather data and GPS position.

Ships with six CR-2 lithium cells in series (>15 VDC) with a current draw of 235/1200 mA giving a 2 to 3 hour operating time.

In Fig 2 below note the two red tapes that are to be removed prior to launch.  One allows removing the bottom cap and the other uncovers the square cone parachite.  There is also a plug just next to the 4P4C RJ-11 socket that activated the battery when it's removed.

Fig 1 came in hermetic sealed bag. Marked:
0041 255 081
Vaisala
                        RD93 GPS Dropsonde
Fig 2 Label:
RD93 GPS Dropsonde
Serial Number: 004 255 081 (stick on label just line the label on bag)
Revision: B.2
Manf. Date: February 2001
Made in USA, VAaisala, Woburn, MA
Vaisala
                        RD93 GPS Dropsonde
Fig 2 Top cap removed showing pyramid (Square cone) shaped retarding chute
5149019 Balloon parachute, University Corp for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), 1991-09-30, -
Vaisala RD93 GPS Dropsonde
Vaisala RD93 GPS Dropsonde square
                                cone parachute

Fig 4:       3" Launch Tube devices top to bottom:
T-347/SRT Buoy, Radio Transmitting - launched from submarine
Vaisala  RD93 GPS Dropsonde - launched from airplane
SUS: Signal Underwater Sound - launched from airplane
Sippican Ocean Systems SSXBT Model ST-1 Bathythermograph -launched from submarine

Vaisala
                        RD93 GPS Dropsonde,
9753183 Aircraft expendable instrument launch detector system, University Corp for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), 2015-03-03 - interesting citations & references
7358862 Radiosonde system, radiosonde system receiver and signal processing method in a radiosonde receiver, Vaisala Oy, 2008-04-15 -400 MHz data down-link & separate position DL channel.  A multi-channel receiver, uses DSP techniques so can receiver data from multiple soundes at the same time.

Rawinsonde(RAdar WInd SONDE)

See FM 6-15, Chapt 6 Observation equipment, Section V, Rawinsonde System.
Designed for taking atmospheric soundings and thereby obtaining upper air meteorological data.  This is accomplished by measuring the wind speed, wind direction, pressure, temperature, and humidity through out the vertical extent of the sounding.

consists of:
Radiosonce AN/AMT-4
Rawin set AN/GMD-1
Radiosonde recorder AN/TMQ-5
and associated equipment: TS-65 Freq Std, Baseline check set AN/GMM-1, Test Set TS-538, 10-kW power unit PE-75, Met Station Manual AN/TMQ-4

Batteries

Many of the batteries used for Radiosondes are the type called a Reserve Battery (Wiki) since this type of battery has an extremely long shelf life. Other applications for reserve batteries are artillery shells and sonobuoys.


The BA-259 and BA-380 showed up on eBay in October 2017 from seller delawarelisterI expected the tin cans (Wiki) to be smaller than they turned out (5" dia x 6-1/4" tall) they are about the size of a coffee can.

Fig 1
BA-259 &
                      BA-380 Reserve Batteries
Fig 2
BA-259 &
                      BA-380 Reserve Batteries

BA-259/AM

Used with the AMT-4 radiosonde.

Top
Caution
------------
Do Not Open
Until Battery is to be
Activated

Label
Battery, Water Activated
BA-259/AM
1 Each
DAAB 07-81-D-6553-{0001]
Eagle-Picher Industries
Colorado Springe, Colo.
[A0782]

BA-380/AMQ-9

The AMQ-9 is listed as: Transponder Radiosonde; manufactured by VIZ Manufacturing Co.
MIL-R-55065A(3) NOT 1 Radiosonde Set AN/AMQ-9() (No SS Document)(Cust:ER)(Review:99)
Very similar to the VIZ MD-210 above.

Top
Caution
------------
Do Not Open
Until Battery is to be
Activated

Label
1 Each
DAAB05-68-C-2394
Ray-O0Vac Division, Mfg/Contr
ESB Incorporated
Wonewoc, Wisconsin
A-9/68

Manuals

TM 750-5-3 Meteorological Equipment Data Sheets

Lists equipment with the following designations:
AMQ-23
AMT-4, -12
GMD-1
GMM-1, -7
GMQ-11
GVH-1
PMQ-1, -3, -4, -6
TMA-1
TMQ-3, -5, -19, -22
TPS-41
UMQ-4, -7
AS-262/GMD-1
CP-164, -223
ML-4, -5, -7, 17, -24, -48, -51, -54, -64, -74, -77, -79, -102, -122, -132, -145, -155, -156, -157, -158, -159, 160, -161, -162, -180, -187, -188, -193, -214, -224, -247, -303, -305, -307, -312, -332, -333, -433, -462, -474, -475, -512, -513, -514, -536, -537, -541, -556, -566, -573, -577, -594, -605, -607, -1309
RO-2/GMQ
S-101
TA-65, -1348
TM1-6625-407-14 Operator's Organizational, Direct Support, and General Support Maintenance manual, Frequency Standard TS-65C/FMQ-1 and TS-65D/FMQ-1, NSN 6625-00-649-4279, October 1973. - Tuning Fork audio generator with output frequencies of: 10, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180 and 190 Hz as negative going pulse to calibrate the AN/TMQ-5(*) recorder.

Patents

Olland radio meteorograph, NBS RP-1169, VOl 22, 1939 - is mentioned in some of the patents.
Diamond-Hinman UHF Tx "Research Paper RP 1329" NBS Vol 25, Sep 1940) "An Improved Radiosonde and It's Performance".

Wallace and Tiernan mainly did water Chlorination, but also patented may Aneriod pressure gauges (Wiki).  Some of these were calibrated as altimeters.
Kollsman mainly made aircraft instruments, many of which made use of
Aneriod pressure capsules.


2027367 System of determining meteorological conditions by radio, William R Blair, Jan 14, 1936, 342/450, 340/870.28, 73/170.28, 340/870.1, 455/61, 342/460 - AM & FM modulation
2230779 Pyrometer potentiometer, Manfred J Johnson, Lewis Eng Co, Feb 4, 1941, 374/166, 374/E07.16, 340/870.1, 374/181, 340/870.17, 236/69, 324/98 - thermocouple w/cold junction comp, lab inst
2277692 Measuring cloud height and thickness, Dunmore Francis W, Mar 31, 1942, 73/170.28, 356/28, 250/208.3, 250/214.00R, 367/130, 250/564, 250/222.1, 340/870.1, 346/33.00B - phototube modulates UHF Tx, hung from pilot balloon
 

2283919 Art of radiometeorography, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S Hinman, 1942-05-26 -
2283919 Art of
                      radiometeorography, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S
                      Hinman, 1942-05-26 - 2283919 Art of
                      radiometeorography, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S
                      Hinman, 1942-05-26 - 2283919 Art of
                      radiometeorography, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S
                      Hinman, 1942-05-26 -

2322229
                      Pressure switching, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S
                      Hinman, 1943-06-22
2322229 Pressure switching, Diamond Harry, Jr Wilbur S Hinman, 1943-06-22 - 



Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, March 1937, pages 'Z3-100 (see also Bureau of Standards Research Paper R. P. 1082, Journal of Research N. B. S.. vol. 20, March 1938, pages 369-391) -  ...the radiometeorograph transmits a continuous carrier wave, particularly suitable for direction finding...Thus the angle of elevation may be measured simply by varying the height of the receiving antenna until a null is obtained in the receiving set output.



2323317 Altitude measuring, Francis W Dunmore, Evan G Lapham, Sec of Commerce, Jul 6, 1943, 324/461, 455/95, 342/462, 340/870.1, 73/384, 367/118, 310/301 - pressure -> resistence (ionozed air gap)-> audio modulation frequency ( 40 to 200 Hz.)
2347160 Radiometeorograph transmitting apparatus, Wallace Charles F, Wallace & Tiernan Inc, Apr 18, 1944, 340/870.1, 340/870.28, 73/170.28, 340/870.13, 200/56.00R, 340/870.12, 200/19.21 - Temperature, pressure, relative humidity
2347345 Radiometeorograph transmitting apparatus, Wallace Charles F, Wallace & Tiernan Inc, Apr 25, 1944, 340/870.1, 340/870.12, 340/870.16, 188/185, 200/56.00R, 340/870.13, 73/170.28 - Temperature, pressure, relative humidity
2355739 Meteorological apparatus, Mccabe Ira E, Aug 15, 1944, 340/815.73, 126/263.1, 340/870.1, 362/92, 362/458, 429/158, 126/263.5 - Dry battery heater for very cold operation
2381009 Chronometric radiosconde system, Slderman Joseph A, Aug 7, 1945, 340/870.1, 307/651, 455/91, 340/870.12, 340/870.16, 340/870.13, 307/650, 455/98 - resistive sensors coupled with clockwork
2396955 Radiosonde, Lange Karl O, Mar 19, 1946, 340/870.1, 455/98, 340/870.28, 340/870.13, 340/870.12 - clockwork driving a helical switch
2409155 Radio transmission apparatus, Gibbs Norman E, Schellens Eugene L, R W Cramer Company Inc, Oct 8, 1946, 340/870.1, 340/870.18, 455/98, 340/870.12, 340/870.13 - clockwork driven as unit descends from balloon
2418836 Remote recording system, Hawes Bradford K, Gen Electric, Apr 15, 1947, 346/34, 346/62, 340/870.1, 340/870.38, 340/870.18 - can produce a roll chard with 4 seperate traces.
2425537 Calibration of radiosondes, John Hornbostel, Edison Inc Thomas A, Aug 12, 1947, 73/1.6, 340/870.1 - plots millibars vs. % time cycle by serial number of barometer
2454320 Hygrometer and switch for radiosondes, John Hornbostel, Edison Inc Thomas A, Nov 23, 1948, 200/61.6, 73/335.13, 340/870.1 - chronometric type, temp compensated hydrogemeter
2476400 Automatic transmission of data from aircraft, Peter R Murray, Apr 19, 1949, 340/870.18, 340/870.26, 340/870.27, 340/539.1, 340/870.1, 340/539.17, 340/670, 340/13.24 - audio subcarrier telemetry
2468703 Chronometric electronic radiosonde system, Hammel Clifford M, Serdex Inc, Apr 26, 1949, 340/870.1, 374/142, 370/213, 374/143, 340/870.28, 327/551, 340/870.15 - complex pulse modulation (many tubes)
2500186 Meteorological telemetering system, Morris Kline, Us Sec War, Mar 14, 1950, 342/425, 340/870.11, 340/870.1 - Pulse repetition rate modulation, scanning tracking antenna (Diamond-Hinman UHF Tx "Research Paper RP 1329" NBS Vol 25, Sep 1940)

AN/AMT-3

2509215
                    Radiosonde, Craig Leo S, Leon Hillman, Us Socretary
                    Of War, May 30, 1950


2509215 Radiosonde, Craig Leo S, Leon Hillman, Us Socretary Of War, May 30, 1950, 340/870.1, 340/870.12, 340/870.13, 369/22, 73/170.28, 374/142 - phono record w/4 arms Tx fixed autio tones, can receiver with headphones.
2547009
                            Telemetering system, William D Huston, James
                            M Brady, Apr 3, 1951
2547009
                            Telemetering system, William D Huston, James
                            M Brady, Apr 3, 1951



2547009 Telemetering system, William D Huston, James M Brady, Us Socretary Of War, Apr 3, 1951, 340/870.1, 369/22, 200/DIG.340, 340/870.18, 340/870.28, 340/870.13 - phono record w/multiple arms



2591600 Radiosonde calibration method, Pear Jr Charles B, Washington Inst Of Technology, Apr 1, 1952, 374/1, 331/48, 340/870.1, 331/167, 331/64, 331/143, 331/65, 340/870.18, 331/54, 73/170.28, 331/177.00R, 340/870.4 - for use with British patent 235254 June 11, 1925.  Resistance to audio frequency.
2613347 Modulator, for radiosonde apparatus, William Todd, Sec of War, Oct 7, 1952, 332/131, 340/870.1, 455/95 - FM modulation, uses a  tube blocking oscillator to convert resistance changes into pulses.

2689342 Pressure
                    operated switching device, Goudy Paul R, Kollsman
                    Instr Corp, Sep 14, 1954


2689342 Pressure operated switching device, Goudy Paul R, Kollsman Instr Corp, Sep 14, 1954, 340/870.1, 200/83.00R, 200/81.5, 439/31, 340/870.13, 340/870.16 - uses two barometric elements with different pressure ranges to improve accuracy.

This is a 2 capsule version of the pressure drive system.  I've colored the contacts on the
Aneriod to make the switching more clear.  In this application there's a relay and segment "D" to handle 2 capsules, but in the single capsule version there is neither segment D nor relay.

This is the design that has a problem when used with a constant level balloon.

2701354 Airborne radiosonde recorder, Bennett Aubert E, Feb 1, 1955, 340/870.1, 346/101, 340/870.26, 340/870.18, 340/870.28, 346/33.00B - airborne receiver/recorder w/o ink  
3090917 Transmitter for radio-sonde battery potential indications, Bullock Byrell W, Kuck John H, Secretary of the Navy, Filed: Mar 26, 1946, Pub: May 21, 1963, 340/870.1, 455/95, 331/144, 340/870.18, 331/177.00R - battery condition causes audio frequency change  
8825232 Systems and applications of lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms, Space Data Corporation, Sep 2, 2014, 701/4, 244/128 - While about balloon control it seems to be a way to provide internet.

Radar Reflectors(Roswell Connection)

The Pilot Balloon theodolite main function is to track a weather balloon in order to determine the wind direction and speed at the various elevations as the balloon rises.  There are some problems such as when you can not see the balloon because of clouds or darkness (a small flashlight lamp + battery was tried as a solution, but I don't know how well it worked).

A solution to the problem was to use the SCR-584 RADAR (Wiki) that was already fielded in many war zones for pointing anti-aircraft guns.  But RADAR can not track a balloon, it needs some type of reflector.  The ML-307 was designed to reflect the 10 cm wavelength RADAR signals allowing it to automatically track a balloon as it rises.  These Weather RADar WINd Targets were called RAWINs.

The ML-307  RAWIN is made of balsa wood and gets destroyed when it comes back to the ground, so there was not a "return for reward" marking on it.  This is the source of the hieroglyphics markings discovered at the Roswell UFO crash sight.  The garment company that made the reflectors used a tape that they had on hand to reinforce the construction and it happened to have poorly printed flower designs.  The is covered in a chapter of the book: UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth edited by Benson Saler

Related

weather
Electronics
Radio
Pibal Theodolites
Tuning Forks -US Army Signal Corps Frequency Meter TS-65D/FMQ-1 - used to calibrate the TMQ-5 receiver.
Sonobuoys - Roswell connection
CRT-1B Sonobuoy -Roswell Connection

References


FM 6-15 Field Artillery Meteorology 1970 (online) - 320 pages, Ch 6.5 Rawinsonde, 6.6 Radiosondes,

MIL-R-49315 Radiosonde ML-659(V), Family of

Radiosonde Museum of North America - The Collection -

The Invention and Development of the Radiosonde, 2002,  - patent list from appendix shown above.

Recent Applications of Radio to the Remote Indication of Meteorological Elements (pdf), Harry Diamond, April 1941 - Explains:
* the Olland method from 1872 and it's problems,
* Carrier-Frequency Variation method from Norway,
* Modulation-Frequency Variation method does not require a clockwork and elimination of mechanical contacts
* a full ground weather station that uses radio to send temperature, humidity, wind direction, wind speed, and rain data to a remote location is described.

YouTube: Radiosondes & Weather Balloons: "Weather Friend or Foe" ~ 1957 US Army; The Big Picture TV-363 (0:27:08) -
YouTube:
Vaisala RS92-SGP Radiosonde teardown -

AN/AMT-3 by Al Klase - Including video of operation showing to phonograph record. Here is a photo of the record (by Michael Bittner)

Links

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Page Created 17 March 2017