First Mission for my new Pole

#13 Essen – Morsbach
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P2830277 / 27.02.2019 1200Z
🔗 in storage
🔗 individual transport

On 27.02. the weather looked favourable for the lunchtime sonde from Essen, everything hinted at a landing in a narrower radius around Gummersbach. So I made an appointment with Keanu around 13:15 o’clock to make a new attempt to observe the landing of a probe. But from the beginning I had to fight with problems. was partly down, the RS41 tracker didn’t like decoding on the MacBook at first and the USB extension for the SDR had a loose contact, so that the huge stick, which was now plugged directly into the USB socket, made no reliable contact.

Somehow I got everything going, and one bright spot was that the 6 m pole, which I had ordered from wimo, was already in the delivery van. So I quickly rebuilt the prototype for the hot wire cutter, which is supposed to be attached to the quadrocopter, for operation on a power bank with 5 m supply cable, and was all the more pleased that the package arrived just before one o’clock. To be on the safe side I threw a coat hanger hook and Gaffa into the backpack.

Unfortunately the rig had an extraordinarily good parachute, so that the sonde sailed as far as Morsbach, where we barely missed the landing in a forest. We fought our way up a steep hill about 150 m, only to find out that the parachute was in unreachable height and the probe was about 3,50 m high. We went back to the car to get the pole. When I unpacked the disappointmentfollowed soon: A soldering point on the hot wire cutter had come loose because I had just thrown it into my backpack. So the coat hanger hook had its chance, even with him the rescue succeeded. The sonde went into the transport box and on went the journey.


Somehow I woke up early on Saturday morning and was half lying on my iPad, where I must have fallen asleep. Before I put it away, I did what every Millenial does instinctively in half sleep: I looked at my notifications. The sonde alarm had gone off, the night sonde from Essen had landed in Meckenheim. Somehow I dozed off again, and after my unsuccessful hunts yesterday I dreamed that this probe had been taken by an unknown sonde hunter.

When I woke up I was astonished that there was no report yet, because I couldn’t quite tell the difference between dream and reality at this point. When I had caught myself, I checked the situation again and the village, in front of whose windmill the sonde was to lie in the grass, was quite easily accessible. On the way back, one could perhaps collect the Essen midday probe, which was supposed to come down between Brühl and Euskirchen.

Said, done. The local RB25 brought me to Cologne, after a short stop at McDonalds (the breakfast had only consisted of a chocolate bar due to lack of time) I continued with the RB26 to Bonn Bad-Godesberg. Normally I am full of praise for the guidance system of the German railway, which rarely disappointed me with short changeover times in unknown stations. But here someone came up with the grandiose idea to write “BUS” without any further specification, e.g. after lines, in the direction of both exits of the underpass. Fortunately I guessed correctly and caught the bus to Villip.

NO4 Essen – Villip
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P2610246 / 23.02.2019 0000Z
🔗 lost despite thorough search
🔗 public transport

There I went up the way to the mill, but saw nothing on the meadow, which was next to my footpath in the landing corridor. At the top there was a paddock for horses. In the whole landing area there were no clues, only something white distributed in the grass, which looked like bird feathers on closer inspection. The inhabitants of the mill did not open even after ringing the bell several times. I wanted to drop a note, but had to find out that I didn’t have a notepad with me. Soon a ready-made flyer will be prepared for those instances, for such things you always need the right impulse. I still had time, so I looked again from the other side of the adjacent row of houses, and rang the doorbell one last time at the mill, before I decided in accordance to the flight of the noon sonde, which was about to burst, not to go to Euskirchen, but back to Bonn. Still in the bus the balloon burst and a landing between Hürth and the south of Cologne seemed possible. The Rhine side was still unclear. After the RB26 had been cancelled for no reason and without an announcement, I drove back on the left bank of the Rhine with the RB48 and was in good company with Cologne fans who wanted to attend the FCs home match and premature carnivalists.

NO5 Essen – Köln-Poll
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P2840564 / 23.02.2019 1200Z
🔗 lost despite thorough search
🔗 public transport

From Cologne West I went via Neumarkt to Poll by tram. The sonde had landed in Salmstraße, either on the street itself or, more likely, in the gardens behind it. When I arrived about an hour after landing, there was no signal. There was nothing to see on the road itself. A resident of the apartment buildings to which the gardens belonged allowed me to enter and another neighbour led me through the gardens. No trace of a sonde landing. A landing behind the houses on the other side of the street seemed very unlikely to me and I had to hurry to get the next train home. So I went frustrated on the way home, didn’t reaching the train either, because the tram back was late. If only I had listened to my premonition and hadn’t started at all.

EDIT: As it turned out, Nils from Bonn apparently found both probes after me, both of which flew more than twice as far as in my prediction. The midday probe also had a frequency drift up to 411 MHz, which I find very surprising.

This is something you only experience once…

NP2 Meppen – Köln-Holweide
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P0720091 / 22.02.2019 0500Z
🔗 given away
🔗 public transport

Originally all Meppen sondes should have landed today between Cologne and Duisburg, tendency south to north. The first sonde had a reasonable parachute and landed on the teacher parking lot of the Holweide Secondary School in the west of Cologne. I took the opportunity and made my way. Arrived there with regional train and tram immediately the first joyful surprise: The probe still transmitted. So off I went to the school. Already from a distance I saw that there was a construction site, and also the parachute and balloon remains, which hung in a tree over a vehicle. I entered the parking lot and was immediately instructed by an employee of the tree nursery, who was supposed to trim the trees, and who was on site with a lifting platform. A short search revealed that the sonde was hanging two rows further in the tree. I went back to the team from the nursery who offered to get the probe out of the tree for me. Unfortunately they couldn’t get the parachute, because there was a car parked under it.

Afterwards I tried to hunt the next two sondes, but had to turn around after half the drive and break off. The morning sonde landed behind Bad Münstereifel in the forest with a great parachute, no way to reach it with public transport. And the noon probe landed, due to lack of wind, in Essen on a motorway exit, probably pretty much the only place where one does not get as a pedestrian at all.

But at least one of three, but that shows how difficult the Meppen hattrick is here, even with balloons and parachutes that don’t fall out of expectation and a landing corridor that is completely within the Rhine area, which is quite accessible by public transport.

Another field landing in Essen

#12 Essen – Nümbrecht
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P2740382 / 15.02.2019 0000Z
🔗 in storage
🔗 public transport

The Essen sondes have a preference for trees, of four finds I could only recover two completely. With P2740382, the night probe from 15.02., which had landed very close to me between Wiehl and Drabenderhöhe, it could have been both according to prediction.

On Saturday it went on cold search, after I had been at the hairdresser. The landing place was quite remote, I took a bus, a scheduled taxi, which turned out to be a black sprinter with a pensioner steering, and the last two kilometers by foot, which was no problem in bright sunshine and temperatures of about twenty degrees. The landing site was visible from the road, the big balloon remainings on the meadow with the parachute still folded, the sonde hung a few decimetres high over a deciduous tree.

After the set was recovered, I went back, and decided to walk the 3.5 km to Bielstein, where there is service every half hour. During the waiting time I went to the bakery to get some eclairs for the whole family, so that nothing stood in the way of Saturday afternoon coffee after my return.

First Hunt with Kevin

#11 Beauvechain – Pulheim
Graw DFM-09 / 18060046 / 10.02.2019 0000Z
🔗 in storage
🔗 individual transport

After the initial euphoria of finally having found another sonde hunter near me, who was also on the same wavelength as me, we naturally wanted to go hunting together. I had to wait for the suitable opportunity, if he had time I had none and vice versa, or the sonde weather was not favorable. On 10.02. we finally had the suitable opportunity, we both had time, and the sonde forecast from Beauvechain was favorable, between Gummersbach and Cologne. I took the train at 21:23 to Rösrath, where Kevin and Christian picked me up in the Volvo, which is decisive for his nick, and already has several hundred thousand kilometres on the clock.

Since there was still time until the launch, we paid a visit to P3440172, the Essen midday sonde from 21.01., which was hanging high in a tree nearby. Unfortunately she still did, and we used the time until the sonde was near us to chat in the car. When it was foreseeable that the landing area would probably be somewhere in the Bergisch Gladbach area, we set off in this direction. Hardly arrived, the balloon burst in barely 18000 m and would remain on the other side of the Rhine river; landing somewhere northwest of Cologne. Over the run-down Leverkusen bridge we went to the sonde, which was meanwhile approaching Pulheim, and landed there at the access road to a main road in the field. Less than ten minutes later we were there. We fought our way through a blackberry-covered embankment to the landing site, which was covered with high grass. At some point we where stopped by the sonde string. The rest was routine. Small balloon residue, parachutes are not used by Beauvechain.

Because we weren’t tired yet, it was decided to visit the De Bilt sonde from 14.01., P4030485 in a tree south of Düren, which was received by ON-1 until the battery failed, to see if it had fallen down in the meantime. Unfortunately it was still hanging in the tree, and Christian couldn’t hit it with the sticks he was trying to throw at it. Unfortunately we all didn’t have any sticks at that time.