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 (Wiki) 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. For a time they used Omega (Wiki) or LORAN (Wiki) for tracking but these systems have been decommissioned. The most modern radiosondes make use of GPS.
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.
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.
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).
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) - Harry Diamond Labs (Wiki) - a key part of the development of the proximity fuze. holds a number of patents including aircraft DF
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.
This radiosonde was made by Space Data Corp.
Mfg p/n: 691-4005-02
Contract: F04606-89-C-1041 (year 1989)
Fig 1 SDC
Fig 3 Paper Tape and Humidity
sensor on lid.
250 to 1050 MB
Base station coefficients:
0 90 -60 -95 5 70
Carrier Freq. Mhz 403.500
Atmospheric Instrumentation Research
Fig 1 New in sealed bag
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."
NSN 6660-01-348-7451, ML-674(V)3/TMQ
ML659 (V) 2
403 Mhz VLF/OMEGA
See FM 6-16 Ch 6.6 Radiosondes for detailed description.
FM signal modulated by audio frequency switched by barometric pressure.
Fig 2 1680 MHz +20/- 10 MHz adj.
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.
9753183 Aircraft expendable instrument launch detector system, University Corp for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), 2015-03-03 - interesting citations & references
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
Fig 2 Label:
RD93 GPS Dropsonde
Serial Number: 004 255 081 (stick on label just line the label on bag)
Manf. Date: February 2001
Made in USA, VAaisala, Woburn, MA
Fig 2 Top cap removed showing pyramid (Square cone) shaped retarding chute
5149019 Balloon parachute, University Corp for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), 1991-09-30, -
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
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.
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.
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
The common carbon-zinc and lead acid batteries stop working at slightly below the temperature where water freezes because the electrolyte in a aqueous solution. So, for use in radiosondes where light weight and operation at very cold temperatures is important a new battery was needed.
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 sonobuoys and proximity fuzes.
The BA-259 and BA-380 showed up on eBay in October 2017 from seller delawarelister. I 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.
Used with the AMT-4 radiosonde.
Do Not Open
Until Battery is to be
Battery, Water Activated
Colorado Springe, Colo.
BA-380/AMQ-9The 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.
Do Not Open
Until Battery is to be
Ray-O0Vac Division, Mfg/Contr
2404144 Acid-releasing means for deferred action type batteries, Riggs Harold Coleman, Smith William Wharton, Electric Storage Battery Co, Filed: 1943-10-29, (W.W.II), Pub: 1946-07-16, - multiple squibs are fired to release electrolyte. Application???
2424807 Piercing device for filling batteries, George E Eckman, Primerica Inc/American Can Co, Filed: 1944-09-13 W.W.II, Pub: 1947-07-29, - looks like sardine can - "My invention relates to a method and means of filling very small wet cell batteries as used in radiosonde equipment and more particularly to a can piercing device for vacuum-pack containers,"
2491640 Deferred action battery, Ivan C Blake, Lawrence H Harriss, John B Mullen, Burgess, Filed: 1945-06-20 (W.W.II) Pub: 1949-12-20, -
Fresh or salt water activated, 2+ V per cell,
"A battery of the character specifically described and illustrated comprising 12 cells connected in parallel and having a length of approximately 6 inches and a diameter of approximately 5 inches, upon im mersion in ordinary tap water, is capable of delivering approximately 3 amperes continuously for more than 40 hours at a voltage above an end point of 1.2 volts."
Run time too long for radiosonde, maybe for Sonobuoy?
2492206 Lead perchloric acid primary cell, Joseph C White, John H Baldwin, Edward J Peebles, Wilson H Power, Filed: 1943-01-19, (W>W.II) Pub: 1949-12-27, -
2500169 Battery filler device having a puncturing element for piercing an evacuated battery enclosing can, Grenville B Ellis, Sec of War, Filed: 1944-09-06 (W.W.II) Pub: 1950-03-14, -
2594879 Deferred-action battery, James N Davis, GTE Sylvania, 1952-04-29, - fresh or salt water. Quick activation. maybe sonobuoy type. preventing shorting between cells.
2441896 T.G. Moir, May 18, 1948
2636061 Deferred action type battery, John H Baldwin, 1953-04-21, - acid electrolyte
2637757 Deferred action battery, Milton E Wilke, Burgess, 1953-05-05, -
2640863 Deferred action type battery, Grenville B Ellis, Army, 1953-06-02, - zinc-sulfuric acid -lead peroxide.
2653179 Primary battery and method of making the same, John H Baldwin, 1953-09-22, - cadmium-acid lead peroxide
2655551 Magnesium-cuprous chloride reserve battery, Grenville B Ellis, Army, 1953-10-13, - "Deferred action batteries of the magnesium water-cuprous chloride type have attained considerable importance as "meterological' or 'one shot' batteries due to their high capacity per unit of weight and volume, their excellent Operatting characteristics even at low temperatures and their ease of activation with water."
2699461 Deferred action battery, Milton E Wilke, Burgess, 1955-01-11, - "...the positive terminal 14 is composed of copper, the depolarizing cathode 16 is of cuprous chloride, the electrolyte-receptive element 18 is of absorbent paper such as blotting paper, the anode 20 is of magnesium, and the negative shield and terminal 22 is of copper."
"Instead of the magnesium, cuprous chloride cell System described the magnesium, silver chloride cell system may be used in which the elements are of the following composition: 14 silver, 16 silver chloride, 18 absorbent paper, 20 magnesium, 22 silver or copper"
2829187 Deferred-action battery, Harrison M Mcdonald, Burgess, 1958-04-01, -
3183122 Fuel cell, Joseph C White, Schuldiner Sigmund, Navy, 1965-05-11, - porous anode of Nickel-Palladium alloy, Porous cathode, Hydrogen & Oxygen inputs, aqueous electrolyte.
3432350 Sea water battery, Burton J Wilson, Navy, 1969-03-11, - "A Sea water battery having a succession of cells which with the exception of the first are closed to influx of ambient sea water on immersion of the battery and in operation of the battery are opened in a delayed cell sequence." multiple squibs, "sea-based devices such as sonar buoys and light beacons"
Meteorological Equipment Data Sheets
Lists equipment with the following designations: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.
PMQ-1, -3, -4, -6
TMQ-3, -5, -19, -22, -34
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
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.
Pressure switching, Diamond
Harry, Jr Wilbur
S Hinman, 1943-06-22 -
Determining upper air wind conditions by radio
direction finding, Diamond
W Dunmore, Jr
Wilbur S Hinman, Filed: 1938-12-22, Pub:
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, 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
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.
James A. Van Allen (Wiki) Proximity Fuze & Cosmic Ray Patents
The first two patents below relate to Cosmic Rays (Wiki) but the second two relate to the Proximity Fuze (see: China Lake Patents) but the main one is titled Radiosonde as a cover story. It does look a little like the T-435A/AMT-4B Transmitter (see above).
2744697 Cosmic ray (Wiki) altimeter, James A Van Allen, 1956-05-08, - shielded and unshielded GM tubes on rocket
Van Allen radiation belt (Wiki)
2931897 Radiosonde, Merle A Tuve (Wiki), James A Van Allen, App: 1943-08-10, (TOP SECRET for 17 years) Pub: 1960-04-05, - This is really a proximity fuze.
See China Lake Patents
2934287 Sonde, John W Ault, Filed: 1946-03-26 W.W.II, Pub: 1960-04-26, -
"The present invention relates to sondes and specifically to an arrangement including a wave-signaling circuit used in conjunction with light-responsive and amplifying circuits for providing modulated wave signals, these circuits being installed in a test projectile and the signals being employed in the study of the behavior of proximity fuzes.
A representative proximity fuze is disclosed in the copending patent application of Joseph E. Henderson et al., Serial No. 568,020, filed in the U.S. Patent Office on December 13, 1944, entitled "Fuze” and assigned to the same assignee as the instant application."
3064578 Light-sensitive proximity fuze, Joseph E Henderson, Lawrence R Hafstad, Richard B Roberts, Filed: 1944-12-13 W.W.II Top Secret 18 years, Pub: 1962-11-20, -
2996008 Projectile nose structure, James A Van Allen, Robert G Ferris, Sec Navy, App: 1944-09-21. (Top Secret 17 years) Pub: 1961-08-15, -
3113235 Rugged vacuum tube, Henry H Porter, Karrer Sebastian, Raymond D Mindlin, James A Van Allen, App: 1944-01-24, (TOP SECRET 19 years), Pub: 1963-12-03, -"Mousetrap Spring"
Additional Proximity Fuze Patents
2959128 Control device, John R Boykin, Sec of Navy, App: 1945-06-04(TOP SECRET 15 years) Pub:1960-11-08, -
To withstand the high wind speeds and be stable. See 3001476 for related fuze circuits.
Fig 1 & Fig 2 show loop antennas whose impedance changes when near a conductor.
Fig 3 see 3001476 below.
3001476 Magnetic fuze, John R Boykin, App: 1945-06-04 (TOP SECRET 26 years), Pub: 1961-09-26, -
Fig 1 Winding (2) creates constant magnetic field bowered by battery (3). The winding (2) is also AC coupled to the grid (9) of tube (6).
Fig 2 permanent magnet (21) in nose. Loop picks up Eddy currents induced in loop (22).
3063345 Method and apparatus for exploding bombs, Ralph N Harmon, John R Boykin, Westinghouse, App: 1943-05-25 (TOP SECRET 19 years) Pub: 1962-11-13, -
Instead of having a transmitter in the bomb, it's located in the plane.
1. saves destroying a transmitter in every bomb,
2. allows adjusting the trigger altitude from the plane by adjusting the width of the transmitter pulse.
3166015 Radio frequency proximity fuze, Merle A Tuve, Richard B Roberts, App: 1943-01-06, TOP SECRET 22 years, Pub: 1965-01-19
GB289195A Improvements relating to the assembly of units in radio receivers and other electrical apparatus
1927-02-11 1928-04-26 British Thomson Houston Co Ltd 1769203 Helicopter John P Buckley 1929-04-30 1930-07-01 John P Buckley 2022517 Radio echo altimeter Franklin G Patterson 1928-11-17 1935-11-26 Gen Electric GB453567A Improvements in mechanical fuzes for projectiles
1935-03-31 1936-09-14 Mefina Sa 2060198 Echo torpedo detonator
sends Pings and listens for return
Jr John Hays Hammond 1932-11-28 1936-11-10 Jr John Hays Hammond AT149723B
Air defense missile.
1936-04-15 1937-05-25 Hugo Ing Gutmann 2137598 Artillery projectile
Optical proximity fuze
1935-04-02 1938-11-22 Ericsson Telefon Ab L M 2176469A
Steering device responsive to radio signals
similar to the A-N
Low-frequency radio range (Wiki)
1936-01-23 1939-10-17 Csf 2255245 Firing device
optical range finder-fuze
Clyde B Ferrel 1938-04-26 1941-09-09 Ferrel Ordnance Inc 2341351 Aerial mine
sound activated bomb hung from balloon
Barkley Joseph Amos 1941-05-15 1944-02-08 Barkley Joseph Amos 2403567 Electrically energized fuse
Jr Nathaniel B Wales 1942-01-13 1946-07-09 Jr Nathaniel B Wales
3269314 Radio proximity fuze, Russell H Varian, Sperry, App: 1941-07-08, TOP SECRET 25 years, Pub: 1966-08-30, -
Two methods of Proximity triggering plus guidance. In principle can be used for AA, bombs or rockets.
Varian was a pioneer in UHF and higher frequency high power tubes. This patent made use of a Hi power UHF tube.
This patent is mentioned in RWR Ref 3 -
Mentioned in body of patent, not prior art, but part of system
2162698 Bomb sight, Earl W Chafee, Murtagh Hugh, Sperry Gyroscope, 1939-06-20, -
2242275 Electrical translating system and method, Russell H Varian, Stanford, 1941-05-20, - see RWR Early Radar Patents
2414103 Apparatus for controlling missiles in flight, Paul B Hunter, Sperry Gyroscope, App: 1941-07-08, (SECRET) Pub: 1947-01-14, -
Figures very similar to 3269314. It's the guidance part of 3269314 without the fuzing.
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. This is covered in a chapter of the book: UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth edited by
Fig 1 The reflector is made of woven metal mesh.
Instructions1. Secure loose end of ten foot securing line to boat.
MX-138/A RADAR Corner Reflector
2. Remove chafing covers from each end; insert hub
in only one section of oar handle and twist until
snap buttons engage. Stand oar handle upright
3. Carefully unwrap wire mesh from around metal
arms. Shake and pull gently to loosen arms
from each other.
4. Unfold arm to which this tag is attached and
hold as far downward as possible.
5. Pull down the two arms with red dots and hold
them at right angles to the oar handle.
6. Holding these three arms as directed above, care-
fully unfold the arm to which the tie-cord is
attached. This last arm will spring past a cen-
tral position to extend downward at an angle
of 45* from the oar handle. Be careful. DO
7. Connect tie-cord between two lower arms. Re-
move oar handle section from hub and replace
through loop in tie-cord.
8. Carefully pull and form mesh fabric to shape into
smooth flat surfaces at right angles to each other.
9. Add second section of oar handle to give a
height of about 4 feet. Step mast through grom-
met into sleeve on bottom of boat.
10. Slip rubber collar, furnished with oar, over oar
handle. Push up tight against underside of grom-
met to prevent mast from working out of sleeve.
11. Proper height of reflectgor for air-search is about
four feet, but when surface vessel is sighted add
all available extra sections of oar handle and
hold reflector as high as possible. DO NOT
12. Use of this device will greatly Increase probabil-
ity of pickup by patrol craft. Its effectiveness
depends on the accuracy of the rightangled
corners. Do not tear, wrap, or distort them.
13. Use all available visual aids - smoke, mirror,
and sea marker - when friendly craft are in sight
Fig 4 Tube that couples to oar section with 2 push down pins.
Tube OD: 1.169"
Pins OD: 0.175"
Would fit an oar section with ID: 1-3/16"
That had 3/16" holes for the two spring loaded pins.
online) - 320 pages, Ch 6.5 Rawinsonde, 6.6 Radiosondes,
Weather - Wind Speed -
Radio Direction Finding
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
MIL-R-49315 Radiosonde ML-659(V), Family of
PRC68, Alphanumeric Index of Web pages, Contact, Products for Sale
Page Created 17 March 2017