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AnaSonde Flight and Operation. AnaSonde Information. The AnaSonde-E and the AnaSonde-3M operate in the 70-cm amateur radio band so an amateur radio license is required to operate them.

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anasonde information
AnaSonde Information
  • The AnaSonde-E and the AnaSonde-3M operate in the 70-cm amateur radio band so an amateur radio license is required to operate them.
    • See our FAQ at for 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.
    • Complete receiver kit is available from Anasphere: Yaesu VR-120D receiver, Cushcraft A430-11S Yagi antenna, and cables to connect them.
    • The launch balloon and parachute are included in the AnaSonde kit; all that you as the user has to provide is a 9-volt battery and helium.
  • The other AnaSondes (Blink-E, Buzz-E, and SpectraSonde) do not fly, but are perfect for use in the classroom or outside in your backyard!
flight preparation
Flight Preparation

*Skip the flight preparation slides for AnaSondes that do not fly.

  • Make a sun shield for the AnaSonde by rolling the 1.5x5” index card into a tube and taping it.
  • Lay the space blanket down on the mesh so that it is centered on the mesh with the gold side out. (This is called multi-layer insulation, much like that used on spacecraft.)
  • Wrap the mesh/space blanket sandwich around the tube with the mesh side in and tape it in place. (This will protect the sensors that are sensitive to sunlight.)
  • Slip the shield around the AnaSonde and tape it to hold it in place.
    • The shield should cover the temperature and humidity sensors.
flight preparation5
Flight Preparation
  • Cut a 3-ft long piece of Dacron line and tie a small loop in one end of it, of about ½”. (This will go to the cable tie that seals the balloon.)
  • Tie the other end of this line to the loop on the top of the parachute.
  • Use the remaining Dacron line (about 3-ft) to attach the AnaSonde to the loop where the parachute lines come together.
  • When attaching the AnaSonde, it is best to tie a loop around the 9-volt battery snap such that the loop around the snap passes between the battery terminals. This way, when the battery is snapped on, the loop can't come off.
  • Fill the balloon with helium.
      • The balloon should lift about half again as much mass as the mass of the AnaSonde plus its battery.
      • Typically, the AnaSonde + 9-volt alkaline battery will have about a 60 gram mass. Therefore, the lift should be about 90 grams.
filling the balloon with helium tips
Filling the Balloon with Helium Tips
  • Make up a dummy mass using small blocks of wood with holes drilled in them.
  • Secure the appropriate mass of blocks to a small binder clip with a loop of wire.
  • When you are ready to check the balloon lift, twist the neck closed and use the binder clip to hold the neck closed and to hold the weights to the balloon.
  • You have the right amount of helium when the balloon can just lift the dummy mass.

Tip Pictures

Use blocks of wood connected to a binder clip to measure

the lift of the balloon. Pinch the neck of the balloon with the

binder clip to test the lift without having to tie the balloon.

Unclip the neck and add more or release some helium in

order to achieve the right amount of lift.

flight preparation8
Flight Preparation
  • Take the end of the line that goes to the parachute (this is the end with the small loop in it that you tied in a previous step) and put it around the cable tie.
  • With the balloon neck twisted closed put the cable tie around the neck and tighten it to hold the balloon closed and to attach the payload (the AnaSonde) to the balloon.
setting up the computer for all anasondes
Setting up the ComputerFor All AnaSondes


  • In order to collect data from the AnaSondes, you must first have the software necessary to do so.
    • SondeWorks is Anasphere's custom data acquisition software that is used to display the data from the AnaSondes.
      • Download SondeWorks onto your computer from

Direct URL:

    • CwGet is the software needed to log and display Morse code data in real time.
      • Download CwGet from an off-site link on the Anasphere website located at the same URL highlighted above.
    • AnaSonde-3M Programmer is the software used to program your customizable AnaSonde-3M.
      • Download the 3M Programmer from the same Anasphere URL highlighted above.
radio setup
Radio Setup
  • 1. Be sure you have reasonably fresh batteries in the receiver.
  • 2. Attach the receiver to the antenna using the BNC to UHF cable.
  • 3. Turn on the receiver by holding down the power button.
  • 4. Tune the receiver to 433.920 MHz (the typical frequency for the AnaSonde). If the frequency is way off from where you last used it, you may have inadvertently hit the band select (BND^) button. Push it repeatedly until it shows a frequency closest to what you’re looking for.
radio setup11
Radio Setup
  • 5. Verify that you are in AM mode, as shown at the top of the display.
  • 6. Verify that the attenuator is out (not showing AT at the top of the display).
  • 7. Turn the squelch (outer knob next to antenna, labeled SQL) all the way down so that you may hear a background hiss.
  • 8. Set the volume to the middle of the range.
  • 9. Turn on the AnaSonde.
radio setup12
Radio Setup
  • 10. When the sonde is transmitting, tune for the best received signal strength. Almost all AnaSondes have their main transmission frequency in the 433.800-434.000 MHz range. If you get outside of that, you’ve probably gone too far.
  • It is best if no one is touching the sonde during the tuning process; it is fine to be holding it by the string which supports it, but don’t physically touch or come close to the sonde (especially the antenna).
radio setup13
Radio Setup
  • 11. You can fine-tune the receiver by ear. When you are receiving the best signal, it will sound comparatively smooth, with a clearer 600 Hz tone; when you are slightly off frequency, it will sound more tinny and pitchy.
  • 12. Now hook up the radio’s speaker output jack (under the rubber cover labeled SP) to the computer’s microphone input jack using the 1/8-inch mono plug to 1/8-inch mono plug audio cable. Note that some operators have experienced trouble when using a laptop computer that was plugged into the AC power line.
  • 13. Your radio receiver is now set up.
antenna set up
Antenna Set-up
  • Obtain an antenna and set it up according to the instructions that come with it.
  • Anasphere suggests using a Cushcraft A430-11S Yagi antenna.
  • The cables to connect the receiver and the antenna are available from Anasphere.
programming the 3m
Programming the 3M
  • Download Programming Software
  • Open up the programmer on your computer after download completes
  • First, select and set the value for Delay Between Transmissions or leave as the default value.
  • You may next decide between a Radio option or Serial Port option. For most users and cases, you will choose the Radio option.
    • Set the Morse Speed you would like for dot = msec.
    • Enter the Callsign of the operator. You must have a callsign to legally operate the flight AnaSondes. (See the FAQ section on the Anasphere website for more pertinent information.)
programming the 3m16
Programming the 3M
  • The AnaSonde-3M is customizable because it has the ability for user-defined settings. This includes user-selected sensors and channels for those sensors.
  • Set the Channel Configuration for the 3M next.
    • To select a channel that is being used on the AnaSonde, check the box next to the corresponding channel.
    • To change the sensor belonging to a certain channel simply click on the channel listing and another window will open up where the user may select which sensor is installed in that channel.
      • This assumes that the user will leave the Standard Equation bulleted.
  • Next, select the Com Port that the computer is using.
    • You may ask the computer to search for Coms under the ComPort tab along the top of the programmer screen.
  • Underneath the Help tab is a set of programming instructions to follow to finish the programming procedure.
  • CwGet is the software necessary for SondeWorks to receive the radioed data from the AnaSonde and interpret the data.
  • After downloading CwGet, open it up.
  • If you would like to be able to hear the code as it comes over the radio from the AnaSonde, choose the Setup tab > Sound Output > Sound Without Filtering. This will allow you to hear the transmission even when the radion is plugged into the computer.
  • Also under the Setup tab, uncheck the Logarithmic Spectrogram (Alt-Z).
  • This is for easiest viewing, though this is a user preference. These items (Logarithmic Spectrogram and Logarithmic Oscillogram) refer to the graphical displays at the top and bottom of the window, respectively.
  • The Main Filter and Burst Filter (also under Setup) are variables that the user can investigate and experiment with to find the best fit.
    • As a general starting point:
      • Set the Main Filter to 140Hz
      • Set the Burst Filter to 50 LPM
  • When receiving audio from the AnaSonde, grab the vertical red slider bar in the top window and slide it onto the highest peak you see, right around 600 Hz.
  • While receiving audio, press the GoToMax button to let the program fine-tune the location of that red bar. Do NOT use AutoGoToMax! If you do, the bar will wander during pauses in transmissions and get off frequency.
  • After you get the top red bar centered on frequency, move to the bottom display which should be showing lots of vertical spikes (or, at low speeds, these would be seen to be dots and dashes over time). Move the horizontal red bar up or down until it is cutting through the middle of these spikes or peaks. At this point, what may have been gibberish in the center text window (lots of e’s, t’s, n’s, dots and dashes in curly brackets) should become legible data with / character delimiters.

It is best if the spikes or peaks just reach to the top of the lower window or a bit beyond (become flat-topped). This is controlled by adjusting the volume on your receiver. As signals get weaker, they may not reach to the top any more – in that case, just turn the volume on the receiver all the way up.

  • Adjust the horizontal red bar in the bottom CwGet window up or down to improve signal quality. Moving it up reduces sensitivity, but can block local RF noise sources. Moving it down improves sensitivity, but at the expense of becoming more vulnerable to noise.

Set this vertical red

bar to the highest

peak in the frequency

left to right.

Legible data with /

character delimiters

will show up in this

box after the red

vertical and horizontal

bars are adjusted.

Move the horizontal

red bar up or down

until it is cutting through the middle of the spikes and peaks.

  • Open up the SondeWorks program.
  • Follow the prompts the program walks you through:
    • What would you like to do?
      • For a new flight or data acquisition, choose:
      • Operate an AnaSonde
      • To bring up past data, choose: Work with saved files
  • Click on the green arrow pointing to the right towards the bottom left of the window to move onto the next step.
  • Enter in the configuration for the AnaSonde
    • For the 3M: Manually enter in the configuration that you obtained from programming the sonde with the 3M programmer.
    • For the E: The computer can automatically read the E's configuration. Simply click on the configure button and a change from a red dot to a green one signifies success. (The sonde needs to be on and transmitting for this to be successful.)

Changes in color from red to green with a successful configuration.

Click the green arrow to move to the next step (or to back up).

  • Enter the Launch Elevation next. This can be entered in meters or feet by making sure the bullet of the chosen unit is selected.
  • Click the green next arrow again.
  • A prompt will pop up telling you to click “Run” to begin collecting data. Double check your radio to make sure it is properly tuned and that CwGet is successfully acquiring the data; and then click on “Run”.
  • A “Save” window will then pop up allowing you to save the upcoming project.
  • After you have saved, the acquisition into SondeWorks will begin.
    • The telemetry will be scrolling along the bottom of SondeWorks.
  • You may customize the graph appearance and parameters as the program is running by clicking on the various components of the graph you would like to change.
  • Each data point will appear as a dot on the graph and as a numerical value in the chart below the graph.
  • If SondeWorks is having trouble attaining data points, double check the tuning of you radio and also that the highest peak is selected in the upper window of CwGet and the red line is intersecting the peaks of the transmission in the lower window and not getting cut off.
  • Once you are done collecting data, click on “Stop”. A prompt will appear to ask you if you really want to stop collecting data. Click “Yes”.
  • Click the green next arrow once more and there will be loading, saving, and printing options to choose from.
  • Since you saved in the beginning, you may exit whenever you are finished and your project will be saved.
flight for flight anasondes
FlightFor Flight AnaSondes
  • After CwGet and SondeWorks are set up and everything is working properly, it is time to fly your AnaSonde!
  • Double-check that everything is working and that the batteries are fresh and that the attenuator is off and let it go!

Sonde notes:

1. Batteries: The AA batteries should be Energizer AA lithium cells. The 9-volt should be an Ultralife lithium battery. The sonde would probably work with an alkaline 9-volt, but would be likely to have problems with alkaline AA cells.

in flight
In Flight

These instructions are to help with maintaining a good signal for the longest possible duration.

  • 1. The first thing to do when signal gets weak is to turn off the attenuator, if you haven’t already.
  • 2. Be sure that the antenna is pointing at the sonde, or in the last known direction. Once the sonde gets far away, the beam width of the antenna is such that small pointing errors won’t matter any more. It’s okay to move it around some trying to get a better signal, but don’t get carried away.
  • 3. Turn the volume up so that in the CwGet window the peaks in the bottom window reach all the way to the top of the window...or as close as you can get them as the signal gets weaker.
in flight28
In Flight
  • 4. Adjust the horizontal red bar in the bottom CwGet window up or down to improve signal quality. Moving it up reduces sensitivity, but can block local RF noise sources. Moving it down improves sensitivity, but at the expense of becoming more vulnerable to noise.
  • 5. Periodically check the tuning of the receiver. The transmitter may drift in frequency a bit with temperature or time. For low altitude flights (as with the –2G high speed profiler sondes), this is unlikely to drift more than about 5-20 kHz (that’s 0.005 – 0.020 MHz, or just one to four clicks of the tuning knob). So, if you aren’t hearing a signal, or it’s weak, adjust the tuning a little bit. Don’t get carried away! When in doubt, return to the last frequency that was working.
  • You may find that it is easier to listen to the radio directly rather than via CwGet and the computer when checking tuning. Yes, tuning checks sacrifice a bit of data – but if you’re needing to seriously tweak tuning, chances are that data was already being lost anyway.
operation tips
Operation Tips
  • 1. After the sonde begins transmitting time data, waiting a minute or so before launching it will allow the sonde to acquire more accurate launch altitude data.
  • 2. You may want to collect several seconds of throwaway data on the ground prior to launching so that you have a chance to check the tuning of the receiver.
operation tips30
Operation Tips
  • 4. Keep the sonde at arm’s length so that the internal GPS antenna has the best view of the sky.
  • 5. Keep your hands away from the radio antenna to avoid altering its frequency.
  • If you aren’t hearing data but expect to, be sure the volume is turned up, the squelch is turned down, and the antenna is pointed in generally the right direction. Then try adjusting the tuning in small steps up and down. Don’t go too fast, and don’t get carried away! The signal should be within about 5-20 kHz or so (0.005 to 0.020 MHz) of your originally tuned frequency – so just a click or two of the tuning knob up or down should get a good signal again.
  • CwGet maintains a buffer with all characters received. Just use your mouse to select all of the characters in the CwGet window, copy them, and paste them into a text document in Notepad or another text editor program. That is your full record of raw telemetry, and we can help you retrieve the data from this file (or advise you how to do it).
  • Also – all SondeWorks programs maintain a secondary, backup data file independent of your main data file. This secondary file likely has your data as well, and we can help you identify this file if needed.
common problems
Common Problems
  • 1. The squelch isn’t turned all the way down.
  • 2. The volume isn’t turned up high enough.
  • 3. The batteries are low.
  • 4. The attenuator is in, as shown by AT on the display. Turn it off by pushing FUNC (button on the left side) and, while holding FUNC down, press the far right button (of the 4 on the front) labeled MODE (with ATT in white below it).
common problems33
Common Problems
  • 5. The automatic as opposed to manual tuning function is enabled, as shown by B on the display. Turn it off by pressing the second button from the right, labeled V/M. If the automatic tuning is operational, the incoming signals tend to be slightly clipped (more easily heard than seen), resulting in garbled data.
  • 6. The receiver is not set to AM mode. Press MODE repeatedly until the top of the display shows AM (as opposed to FM or WFM).
  • 7. The tuning step is too big (25 kHz instead of 5 kHz). Refer to the radio manual to set the tuning step to 5 kHz to more accurately tune the sonde and improve signal quality.
common problems34
Common Problems
  • 8. The battery save function is on, as shown by S on the display. Turn it off according to the user’s manual.
  • 9. Some PCs have advanced sound controls for bringing in audio signals, and these controls may attenuate your incoming signal. Refer to your sound card’s instructions for troubleshooting this issue.
  • You have now successfully acquired data from your AnaSonde!
  • If you sent your 3M or E into the atmosphere, build another to enjoy another learning and exciting experience!
  • If you have an AnaSonde that doesn't fly, try another location to see what other kinds of data you can receive!