Tethersonde: SmartTether

Pitot equipped module in flight Pitot equipped module under kite

Full-Featured Tethersonde System

SmartTetherTM is a tethersonde system developed for boundary-layer profiling and near-surface meteorological measurements. One or more flight modules are deployed on the tether of a blimp, kite, or similar platform. A free PC-based program (Windows XP or newer) operates the system, saves data in a file, and can display data in real time. A single ground station is connected to a PC to communicate with the modules. Any number of modules may be operated through a single ground station. Data may be collected at up to a 1 Hz rate for up to eight modules; using higher numbers of modules will lead to gradual reductions in maximum data rate.

SmartTether has been specifically designed to be a flexible, multipurpose atmospheric profiling system suitable for a wide range of applications. Therefore, it uses a comparatively higher-powered telemetry system which enables ranges of up to six kilometers. This extended range comes at the expense of shorter battery lifetimes (12-24 hours depending on battery type) as compared to some of our smaller tethersondes.

Users requiring longer battery lifetime, or seeking a simpler tethersonde solution, will find a solution in our LiteTetherTM line of tethersondes. The tradeoffs are that LiteTether only accommodates the collection of data from one module at a time and has a shorter telemetry range. LiteTether does not require a ground station, and uses an Android-based device such as a tablet computer to operate the system and collect data.

SmartTether has been designed to offer the flexibility of incorporating additional sensors with minimal effort. An XDATA interface is available for suitably equipped sensors, including Anasphere's own supercooled liquid water content (SLWC) sensor. Analog-to-digital converters, serial ports, and counters can be added to SmartTether by the inclusion of a suitably configured daughterboard. These are not standard options, but are available upon request.


  • SmartTether has the ability to capture data simultaneously at multiple points (no practical limit) along the tether
  • SmartTether is fast: up to 1Hz data rate
  • SmartTether is inexpensive


  • Boundary layer wind profiling
  • Fire weather
  • Pollution monitoring
  • Emergency response
  • Flux measurements

SmartTether Basics

The heart of the SmartTether tethersonde is a series of wireless data modules which are attached to the tether. The data rate has been tested at 1 Hz for 6 modules. The data modules send data to a PC-based receiver on the ground. The PC can send commands to an individual data module or an entire network.

The individual modules on the tethersonde are capable of measuring multiple parameters including pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and wind direction. The modules have extra analog and digital interfaces for additional sensors allowing the user to customize their system.

The tethersonde can be used to gather flux measurements by making several vertically separated measurements of the species of interest (e.g., carbon dioxide).1

Documentation and software are available on our tethersonde resources page.

1A paper by Kuck et. al. (Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 105, no. D17, pp. 22,137-22,146,2000) describes this method in more detail.