One found, one lost

NO7 Essen – Bergneustadt
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3520493 / 16.04.2019 1200Z
πŸ”— lost despite thorough search
πŸ”— public transport

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.

#19 Essen – Schemmerhausen
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3440868 / 17.04.2019 0000Z
πŸ”— public transport

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.

Insufficient Public Transport

#18 Essen – Unterboinghausen
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3510178 / 13.04.2019 0000Z
πŸ”— individual transport

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.

Birthday Present from Essen

#17 Essen – Drieberhausen
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3530036 / 12.04.2019 1200Z
πŸ”— individual transport

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.

Just missed the Power Line

#16 Essen – Bergneustadt
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P3520761 / 22.03.2019 0000Z
πŸ”— public transport

After yesterday’s Essen midday sonde did not have enough endurance and had landed on the edge of the DhΓΌnntal 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).

(Keanu besides 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.

Good Equipment is the Priority

On 19 March all Meppen sondes looked promising. The predictions were all near Dortmund, but this does not account for the Meppen manoeuvre parachutes, and drifted from east to west over the course of the day.

The 0500Z probe landed at Krombach, almost exactly where the A4 ends. No area for a public transportation journey, and Keanu stayed ill at home. The 0800Z probe had a superb balloon, which bursted at over 25000 m and let the rig drift into the strong west wind at these altitudes, so that the glide path for the landing shifted significantly to the east. The fully opened parachute did the rest, so the sonde landed somewhere in the area of Freudenberg. The noon probe finally took direct course on Gummersbach, flew in approx. 4500 m height 100 m (ground projection) at my house past and landed about 12 km further in Denklingen. Since ON-1 is still down, I had to record the landing myself. At the moment I’m still experimenting with antennas, but I haven’t found anything better than a folded dipole for my very suboptimal reception place. So I had the last position about 400 m above ground level.

#15 Meppen – Denklingen
Vaisala RS41-SGP / P0720509 / 19.03.2019 1100Z
πŸ”— public transport

I went into the bus, and just about an hour later I heard the RS41 blearing from the hand-held scanner at the bus stop. Quickly the signal was decoded with the notebook, I went through a forest passing the war memorial into a branch of a residential street, where a few houses stood alongside a gravel path. The sonde should be exactly on this track. But in before the sonde I saw the parachute, which hung a little further behind a farmhouse in a high spruce. The sonde was easy to pull out of the tree with the 6 m pole, and the parachute was shaking when pulling the cord

After some back and forth, and after I had repositioned the line on a stronger branch as a turning point, so that I could pull impulsively, I managed to release the parachute. Of course, I couldn’t catch the string fast enough, so the parachute sailed into the garden of the farmhouse, where of course nobody was home.

Fortunately the neighbours of the residents were there and gave me the okay to briefly go into the garden to recover the remains of the rig. With sonde and chute in my backpack I reached for the next bus to return home.

It looks like Meppen used up its last ABS sondes. So it seems that there the DFS Langen and the ozone sondes from De Bilt are now the only ones in the region to start ABS sondes. It’s a fortunate thing that I still managed to get three of them…