What is an AnaSonde?
The AnaSondes are digital radiosondes - simple and inexpensive probes used to gather atmospheric profiles for numerous parameters such as temperature, pressure, and humidity. When flying on a common 3-foot helium-filled balloon, AnaSondes are capable of gathering measurements in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) up to altitudes of approximately 35,000 feet!
Our introductory and educational devices are entry-level systems which can be used on their own or as introductions to the capabilities of Anasphere's more advanced systems. These devices are suitable for students in middle school through undergraduate college, and are also suitable for special-needs schools.
We use these devices as part of teacher-training workshops to familiarize teachers with the basic capabilities of the AnaSonde radiosondes. We have found that teachers often find uses for this simple hardware; as a result, we are developing associated experiments to help teachers take full advantage of the capabilities of these devices.
The AnaSonde family can be used for surface and laboratory use, as well as flown on balloons.
AnaSonde Blink-E and AnaSonde Buzz-E
The AnaSonde Blink-ETM and Buzz-ETM are variants of the basic AnaSonde-E, Anasphere's original low-cost radiosonde for making measurements in the lower atmosphere. The Blink-E and Buzz-E are optimized for use in the classroom and student laboratory. They also provide an excellent introduction to the fundamental features and capabilities of the AnaSonde radiosondes, without requiring the user to have any special skill or additional materials - the kit and a 9-volt battery are all you need to start making measurements and enter the world of AnaSondes!
The Blink-E and Buzz-E are both based on a standard AnaSonde-E radiosonde circuit board. Each type measures temperature using an on-board temperature sensor. An on-board microcontroller takes the raw measurement from the sensor and converts it to a temperature in degrees Celsius. This number is then presented to the user via an on-board LED (Blink-E and Buzz-E) and can also be presented via an on-board speaker (Buzz-E only). The number is presented as a series of blinks or tones. The numbers 1-9 are simply presented as the corresponding number of blinks or buzzes; a special tone indicates the digit zero, and another special tone indicates a negative sign for temperatures below zero.
This method of data presentation is useful in several ways. First, for those intending to move on to more advanced versions of AnaSondes, this technique provides an introduction to how the AnaSondes can transmit data over radios. It also provides an introduction to how numbers are presented by audio methods, and it is an easy step to go from listening to the data from a Buzz-E to listening to the Morse code transmissions from the more advanced AnaSondes. The Blink-E and Buzz-E are available with Morse code output was well.
The data presentation methods are also of use in special-needs classrooms for blind or deaf students. Yes, even blind students have built AnaSondes from specially modified kits!
The SpectraSonde is derived from the AnaSonde Buzz-E, which is used for surface-based measurements only. The SpectraSonde is for users who want the simplicity and low cost of the Buzz-E but need a wider variety of sensors or data output formats. The circuit board is also slightly larger than the Buzz-E, to facilitate a very clear parts layout, wide spacing of parts, and easier placement of the sensors into test chambers and the like. Both audio and visual outputs are provided.
The AnaSonde-E represents the most economical variant of the AnaSonde family. It has two analog channels (so, for example, any two of pressure, temperature, and humidity can be carried), along with one digital input frequency channel. It uses the same hardware as the Buzz-E and Blink-E except that the AnaSonde-E is a flight version. It can be configured to transmit its measurements entirely via Morse code. SondeWorks, our custom data acquisition software, works with CwGet to log and display Morse code data in real time.
What do I need to launch an AnaSonde?
The AnaSonde-E and AnaSonde-3M operate in the 70-cm amateur radio band so an amateur radio license is required to operate them. Our FAQ has important information about the legal issues surrounding transmitter operation. The typical receiver setup recommended by Anasphere is an amateur radio receiver paired with a directional antenna such as a Yagi. A complete receiver kit including a Yaesu VR-120D receiver, a Cushcraft A430-11S Yagi antenna, and the cables to connect them is available from Anasphere. The launch balloon and parachute are included in the AnaSonde kit; all you need to provide is a 9-volt battery and helium!