Listening in on weather balloons with RTL SDR

sonde

Every day, twice a day, over 800 weather balloons are launched around the world at exactly the same time. The data transmitted from these radiosondes is received by government agencies and shared with climatologists and meteorologist to develop climate models and predect the weather. Near [Carl]‘s native Auckland, a weather balloon is launched twice a day, and since they transmit at 403 MHz, he decided to use a USB TV tuner to receive data directly from an atmospheric probe.

The hardware portion of this project consisted of building a high gain antenna designed for 162 MHz. Even though the radiosonde transmits at 403 MHz, [Carl] was easily able to receive on his out-of-band antenna.

For the software, [Carl] used SDRSharp and SondeMonitor, allowing him to convert the coded transmissions from a weather balloon into pressure, temperature, humidity, and GPS data.

A Pirate Box for sharing files

pirate box

This is [illwill]‘s Pirate Box, the newest addition to the network over at NESIT, the Meriden, CT hackerspace.

A pirate box is a completely anonymous wireless file server, kind of like a wireless version of a dead drop. It’s the perfect device for transferring files at a LAN party or hackerspace. The guts of [illwill]‘s portable server comes from an old Fonera router NESIT had lying around. After installing OpenWRT, connecting a few batteries, and finding a wonderful lunch box / treasure chest enclosure on ebay, [illwill] had a portable file server perfect for sharing files.

The pirate box isn’t connected to the Internet. Instead, users can connect to each other and the 16GB USB drive by simply connecting to the router’s WiFi and opening up a browser. All web page requests are redirected to the Pirate Box page, where users can chat and share files. The folks at NESIT uploaded a few public domain files to their pirate box, but they’re anxiously waiting to see what files other users will upload.XVID.AC3.HQ.Hive-CM8.

Finally, TI is producing simple, cheap WiFi modules

TI

Ever responsive to the hobbyist market, Texas Instruments is releasing a very inexpensive, very simple WiFi module specifically designed for that Internet of Things.

The TI SimpleLink TI CC3000 WiFi module is a single-chip solution to putting 802.11b/g WiFi in just about every project you can dream up. Just about everything needed to put the Internet in a microcontroller is included in this chip – there’s a TCP/IP stack included on the chip, along with all the security stuff needed to actually connect to a network.

The inexpensive micocontroller WiFi solutions we’ve seen – including the very cool Electric Imp – had difficult, or at least odd, means of putting WiFi credentials such as the SSID and password onto the device. TI is simplifying this with SmartConfig, an app running on a phone, tablet, or PC that automagically takes care of setting up a link in a wireless network.

Best of all, the CC3000 only costs $10 in quantities of 1000. Compare that to other Internet of Things WiFi solutions, and it looks like we might be seeing and easy and cheap way to connect a project to the internet this year.

Hackaday Retro Roundup: Ultraportables edition

front

A few months ago, we rolled out an updated Hackaday, a badly needed new layout replacing the HTML and CSS that had remained unchanged since 2004. Of course a few people didn’t like change and complained about slow load times. We’ve experienced a slightly slower load time as well, so we’ll just wait until the year 2020 when our computers are many times faster and our Internet is provided by Google Fiber. Until then, our pokey battlestations and vintage computers can still check out a few classic hacks on our retro site. Here’s a few retro successes – Hackaday readers who pulled out their old tech and loaded up the retro site – that have come in over the past weeks and months.

[Read more...]

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