Tracking Weather Balloons

There's a common theme with some of my projects on here, radio. Since gaining my licence a couple of years ago, amateur radio has opened up so many interesting areas of the hobby to explore. Recently I have been learning about weather balloons, in particular radiosondes that are the recording and transmitting units carried by the balloons. Every day balloons around the country are released and transmit data during their flight. When high enough, the balloon burst and the payload parachutes back down to Earth safely where radiosonde trackers can find and keep them.

It's my aim for next year to track on of these weather balloons and collect the radiosonde unit. There is a couple of really helpful websites out there that allow you to track them, my favourite being SondeHub. This site displays the location, predicted landing site of the payload as well as the information it is broadcasting. The frequency of these individual radiosondes are also listed and I can tune my Baofeng UV-5R to listen in.

But as luck would have it, we noticed that a balloon released from Truro in Cornwall earlier in the morning was descending on a location about 10 miles away, my son and I jumped into the car we phone and radio in hand. We were able to listen to the signal that was getting noticeably stronger as we drove closer. It eventually landed on some private land that ran along side a nature reserve. We got as close as we could be failed to find it unfortunately. Take a look at the video below to see how close we got.

We were extremely lucky that the weather conditions pushed a balloon our way but disappointed that we came so close to locating it.

** UPDATE **

We revisited the landing site and took the dog with us in the hope that he could sniff out the payload. It was the eagle-eyed wife that eventually spotted it, though it was too high and tangled to retrieve.


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