On 23.04. Jason, his dad and I went to Essen to watch a sonde launch live at the AutoSonde container. And we were not disappointed during the launch. After a visit to the nearby airfield and lunch we followed the sonde towards Gelsenkirchen Buir. The sonde fell very slowly and we could see the parachute during the landing approach. Unfortunately the sonde landed in a high deciduous tree above a dog school. On the way back we stopped at the landing site of the previous night sonde, whose finders happened to be in the garden. So Jason came to his first own sonde.
The Essen midday sonde landed not far from the last Bergneustadt sonde. Unfortunately I was busy in the afternoon, so that I couldn’t check it until the next day. But with the big Yagi I managed to decode exactly one frame from my balcony, according to which the sonde was hanging in the forest. The altitude was about the same as ground level, but the forest was on a slope.
But in the morning we first went to the following night sonde, which was lying on a field near Reichshof and was very easy to salvage. Unfortunately, the Bergneustadt sonde could not be located in the forest.
The Essen night sonde hit a similar direction as its predecessor. While I was still playing the Open Beta of Anno 1800 with Flynamic and other friends of mine, the landing approach was recorded in the background. The sonde landed on a meadow behind a small village, Unterboinghausen in Marienheide. This would be an impossible mission when using public transport, so the pick-up was organized with Flynamic at the next noon. The excellent final data made an arrival before the burst-killer timer was triggered unnecessary, so that we only started towards one in the afternoon.
On-site, the alternative public transport service, including the working day departure times, could also be inspected. Probe hunting is a wonderful benchmarking of public transport in terms of network density; sometimes one is surprised, sometimes public transport is just as bad as one expects. There is still much to be done in the coming years if public transport is to become an alternative to private transport in more rural regions. Rant beside, continuing with the salvage.
This was quite unspectacular, crossing the electric fence without gates was the most difficult exercise. On the way back we went through the village, which was really beautiful. And on a meadow the first easter lambs already stood with their moms and watched us suspiciously. The landing site was only about 600 m away from N2240508, the Meppen morning sonde from 07.01.
The DWD delivered my birthday present by airmail. Unfortunately, the balloon had bursted somewhat early, so that we still had to travel almost ten kilometres as the crow flies. Weak reception after landing indicated a tree landing whith a signal coming from this direction.
Flynamic picked me up on the way back from work after tea, the last position 200 m above ground made me hope that no decoding was necessary on site, but since there was no balloon to be seen while passing by, I pulled out the Macbook while Flynamic was looking for a parking spot. The tree-landing confirmed itself unfortunately, also the large balloon remainder could be localized in approx. 7 m height in a distant tree. From the tenant we were referred directly to the owner of the property in a villa a few hundred meters away, who had already noticed the balloon.
The cord at the balloon remainings could be caught with the 6 m pole, and by pulling the string, the sonde was located in approx. 20 m height in a distant maple tree. By further impulsive pulling the sonde could finally be freed and dropped to the ground, the temperature sensor was broken as expected.
Now the remainder of the balloon could be pulled down so far that the hook could be attached to more massive elements of the pole, and the parachute could be released by splintering the branch in which it had got caught.
Just in time for dinner (noodles with mushroom sauce, they are already standing upstairs and waiting ;D) we went back home and once again it is shown that the purchase of the pole took place just at the right time; two to three of the four probes, which I have caught since I have it, I could not have recovered otherwise.
After yesterday’s Essen midday sonde did not have enough endurance and had landed on the edge of the Dhünntal reservoir, the midnight sonde made an exemplary flight and landed 6.3 km from my QTH, south of Bergneustadt. From Keanu it were only 2-3 km. After I had the last coordinates, which indicated the sonde just behind a high voltage line, I discussed the operation with Keanu: I would take the bus to Bergneustadt in the morning, and then we would go to the sonde together, and on the way to work he would drop me off again at home. ( I count this sonde as a public transport sonde, because almost no distance was covered by car because of the sonde).
At the landing site, which was on a mountain (which explains the good reception, I still had some signal -not enough to decode but nevertheless- after landing), we saw the parachute lying on a field from far away. The sonde had missed the power line only by meters, I had secretly hoped for a visit from the local grid operator, Westnetz. But my first sonde in a high-voltage line will probably wait a little longer, we don’t have many lines in our area.